Sunday, January 13, 2013 at 10:49AM
Canadian artist and art and social practice educator, Justin Langlois offers a list of critique questions for artists developing socially engaged work. This post is included as part of a series of practical tools for artists making socially engaged work:
METHODOLOGIES OF FAILURE: EVALUATION PRACTICES FOR SOCIALLY ENGAGED ART
- Did your artwork involve other people?
- Are you uncomfortable with calling your artwork an artwork?
- Would you rather discuss this as a project?
- Did you refer to the other people involved as a community?
- Have you tried to explain at length the ways in which you are defining the terms 'involved' and 'other people' and 'community'?
- Are you painfully aware that there are unavoidable power imbalances at play in this project?
- Did you document the results or process of this project using a digital SLR, a camera phone, or Instagram?
- Are there obvious formal possibilities for exhibiting this documentation?
- Did you wonder if it would it be inappropriate to sell this documentation?
- Are there power struggles immediately evident when viewing the documentation?
- Have you considered trying to present this work as a book, documentary, or play?
- How much pressure did you feel to defend the work as tackling political change?
- Did you assume that your project needed to continue indefinitely towards achieving some political end in order for it to be successful?
- Were you asked about success, measurable outcomes, attendance levels, or evidence of change?
- Did you expect there to be answers to those questions?
- Did your research for this project lead you to briefly attend a series of parallel community meetings at which you felt the need to excuse a comment or thought as coming from the perspective of an artist?
- Did your project dissolve after a public presentation / workshop / town hall meeting / charette / or screening?
- Did you feel an unresolved guilt around its dissolution?
- Can you work be critiqued by a painter?
- Did you feel belittled when approached by a visual artist, theoretician, or architect?
- Have there been discussions of 'radical' theory offered from a great distance to the work?
- If your project was a math equation, did the sum always end up as a critique of capitalism?
- Is your project illegible enough to likely never be printed in Art Forum or your local newspaper?
- Can you imagine yourself being awarded a large-scale prize some years after the launch of your project that you didn't necessarily locate as an art project in the first place?
- Could your work easily be mistaken for a project found in surveys of Fluxus, Conceptual Art, or Dada?
- Did this project align itself to a set of political goals that have already been articulated?
- Is there form evident in the project that would allow it to most easily fit into an identified granting opportunity?
- Could your project be mistaken for a restaurant, social service, after-school program, or a guerrilla marketing campaign?
- Could your role in the project being defined as that of a facilitator, organizer, or teacher?
- Were you asked to explain the reason you think your project is art?