Today, we take you to a place where art meets the world. We delve into art that connects with communities and environments, introducing curators and artists whose passion is social engagement. Their experiments in relational aesthetics—participatory performances, interactive installations, community events, and inside/outside exhibitions—invite viewers to become co-creators, to take ownership in the creative process.
Curators Jochen Volz (São Paulo Biennial, Live Uncertainty, 2016), Susan Cross (Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art, Material World, 2010-2011, The Workers, 2011-2012), James Voorhies (Bureau of Open Culture, MASS MoCA, The Workers) and Stephanie Smith (SMART Museum of Art, FEAST, 2012, and Institute for Contemporary Art, Richmond, Declaration, 2018) share their perspectives, as do artists William Pope.L (Baile, 2016), Theaster Gates (Soul Food Pavilion, 2012) and Marinella Senatore (Estman Radio, ongoing).
When we meet curator Jochen Volz in 2016, he talks about his approach to organizing the São Paulo Biennial titled Live Uncertainty. The international art exhibition stands apart from most: Free and open to the public, the biennial takes place in a legendary pavilion at the heart of they city’s most popular park.
Speaking to us from the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art, aka MASS MoCA, curator Susan Cross explains how the history of the building informs her practice. The Workers: Precarity/
Stephanie Smith, currently curator at Virginia Commonwealth University’s Institute for Contemporary Art, joins us to talk about a project she organized at the University of Chicago’s SMART Museum of Art. FEAST: Radical Hospitality in Contemporary Art, not only displayed the history of this idea, but also initiated participatory events and offered meals in collaboration with local artists and communities.
These projects invite you to consider how artists and curators pose enduring questions about the meaning of art. In work that translates the diverse activities of labor unions, communal dinners, beer gardens and political protests, they offer potent reminders of our collective capacity for change.
Our conversation is featured in Issue 7 of the Emily Hall Tremaine Foundation’s new online periodical Exhibitions on the Cusp. We’re honored to be among the publication’s contributors.
Sound Editor: Anamnesis Audio | Photography credits noted in gallery
William Pope.L, Baile, São Paulo Biennial
There Is Only Light (We Do Not Know What To Do With Other Worlds) performance-reading, July 2011, MASS MoCA. Produced by Bureau for Open Culture
Theaster Gates, FEAST, SMART Museum of Art, University of Chicago
Marinella Senatore and Estman Radio recording, courtesy Marinella Senatore and Virginia Commonwealth University Institute for Contemporary Art
Live Uncertainty, Material World, The Workers: Precarity/