This presentation discusses collaborative methodologies using art as a form of activism. Combining art practice and the creation of the artifact with sociological and cultural analyses of the interaction of the artist and the immediate milieu of the subject, artist Joan Kelly has pursued an investigation into the communicative dynamics of painting. The purpose of the art practice is not simply to create art, but to generate an encounter. The enterprise is more ethnographic than mimetic; thus, in this conceptualization, portraiture becomes a form of conceptual art. Through engagement with marginal communities—sex-workers and immigrant workers—the point of the art is to reclaim this group from social oblivion, to give each of them a “face.” The normative social gaze leaves these people out of its purview; the general public is not aware of what is going on inside these social groups. Thus, the art’s purpose is to break the barriers that separate “us” from “them” by bringing the artist and the subject together and putting the results into a participative public domain. Through these means, art is able to bring about social integration and moral cohesion. Art becomes a vehicle for activism. The artist aims to create a space through the use of art that will induce the subject to narrate their personal narratives, their anxieties, their attitudes towards economic and social class, and towards family and the state. The artist wishes to find out about the stigmas that they have suffered, their attitude towards sexuality, gender, race, and other social characteristics. This concept of art as a vehicle for activism was carried out in the red-light districts of Singapore and the brothels of Kolkata.
|Keywords:||Art, Encounter, Social Activism, Interface, Portrait|
Assistant Professor of Foundation Studies, Art Department, Nanyang Technological University School of Art Design and Media, Singapore, Singapore
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