Read : Education for Socially Engaged Art

Drawing across disciplinary boundaries, Helguera is informed from a range of pedagogical approaches when addressing art interjecting into the social realms of influence. Looking at roles of spectator, community and faciliatation into a participatory process, the critique of dynamics and collaborators tools that are ever prevalent in disruptive, reflective or community focused art are addressed.  Drawing upon the hegemonist tools of art culture in co-morbidity with the complex fields of social work and practice, a discussion is relayed in terms of the forms of voluntary emancipation and the hierarchal structure that has to be explored in order to begin an open-ended piece of work or project. This book was particularly prevalent when exploring fields in conjuction with The Art of Invitation and Restless Art in terms of the reflexive definitions from relational aesthetics to participatory engagement. Highlighting the authority and role of the artist, in line with the multitude of implementation and personal narratives that are addressed, a specific focus is laid upon the creativity performativity in education, as well as a collective construction of an art and knowledge as an innate tool for human understanding and development.


Helguera, Pablo. 2011. Education for Socially Engaged Art: A Materials and Techniques Handbook. Jorge Pinto Books.


Pg x : Socially engaged art : performances in the expanded field of combinatory disciplines breaking away from self-referentiality

Pg xi : parallels between the process of art and education - engagement with audiences, inquiry-based methods, collaborative dialogues, hands-on activities, process based & collaborative conceptual practices

Pg xii : Reggio Emilia - individual with rights with spontaneous, creative & collaborative in nature

pedagosisiti : "to participate is not to create homogeneity, to participate is to generate vitality"

Visual and performative process of co-construction and knowledge

The experience, role of location, instigator of the action and documentation process are highlighted with collaborative dynamics with a understanding of the individual's cognitive abilities and potential for learning through experience

(pg 56 : multi-sensorial stimulating learning environment where small gestures encourage conviviality)

Pg xiii: Art programs are subject to extreme regulation and standardisation to meet certain educational outcomes

Pg xiv : Complexities of the field - engage and construct meaningful exchanges and experiences

A tool for critical frameworks in challenging assumptions in society, defending freedom of expression and natural dynamics of art

Pg xv : Socially engaged art : influence the public sphere in it's language & processes by awareness of why we are acting and to learn how to act in an effective way - moderate a conversation, negotiate among interests, support and assess the complexities of a given social situation

Pg 1 : All art is a social communication or experience - Can social interaction proclaim as art?

Pg 2 : Conceptual process of engagement - a working construct

Pg 3 : "relational aesthetics" : community, collaborative, participatory, dialogic & public

Tool to draw lines between generations and unload historical baggage" - democratises the construct

Critical detachment from primarily personality-centred art as dependant on the involvement of others

Pg 4 : sitting uncomfortably between & across disciplines - collaborative projects with democratic ideals away from the capitalist market infrastructure of the art world

Pg 5 : Challenge art market - redefine notion of authorship

Artist as social practitioner : amateur anthropologist, sociologists - attaching itself to subjects that belong to other disciplines : a space of ambiguity

Pg 6 : Symbolic or act-based practice : does only radical practice open itself to public beyond sphere of the converted?

The representation of ideas or social & political issues : allegorical, metaphorical or symbol level which does not control a social situation

Pg 7 : social action is communicative in understanding between individuals which effect of spheres of politics and culture as a true emancipatory force - collective work that affects public sphere in a deep and meaningful way - is art a symbolic practice where you can directly measure societal impact

Pg 8 : symbolic act : "meaningful conceptual gesture" relying on literary and public relations mechanisms

How can the hybrid & multidisciplinary activity of socially engaged art bring people together, engage & critique a group of people?

Pg 9 : Community : construction of temporary social group through collective experience & multi-layered participatory structures

Pg 10 : "individual communities define their own voice" - strengthening a community's sense of self promoting positive social values and a powerful conceptual gesture to build bonds

Pg 11 : All art invites social interaction : socially engaged art's process and fabrication of the work is social not only participation of the viewer but creator and social relationship

Pg 12 : Overt agenda of a platform or network for the participation of others with effects may outlast its ephemeral presentation

Key aim : Critically self-reflexive dialogue with an engaged community

Historically engaged art occurs within confines of an art environment with predisposed set of values and interests that connect them to art - risk taking by moving into open social space of direct engagement with the public realm

Pg 13 : "Emancipated" - Jacques Ranciere's "a community of narrators and translators"

Willing engagement in dialogue to extract critical and experiential wealth to feel enriched

Conceptual art : participant is nominal & instrument

"Nominal or symbolic interaction cannot be equated with an in-depth, long-term exchange of ideas, experiences, and collaborations, as their goals are different"

Pg 14 - 15 : Multi-layered participatory structures : Nominal - viewer contemplates work in reflective manner in passive detachment ; Directed - task to contribute (single encounters) ; Creative - visit provides content for a component within a structure ; Collaborative - shares responsibility for structure and content in collaboration & direct dialogue (long term commitment)

Pg 16 : voluntary, non-voluntary & involuntary predisposition

Pg 17 : ownership comes from "visitors gradually develop sets of relationships that allow them to contribute meaningfully in the constructions of new situation becoming ... collaborators in a joint enterprise"

Virtual sociality : fluidity of communication & connectivity (democratic space?)

Pg 18 - 19 : Art projects can offer time and space for congregation and developing relationships to find commonalities through activities and achieve a goal without "pressure for product" and "gratification from the art market"

Pg 20 : Developed through time & in depth understanding of artists engaging in a social environment "Strive to activate the 'space between' groups and individuals as a zone of potentiality, in which the relationship between contemporary art and life may be renegotiated"

Pg 22 : Audience - "we build because we seek to reach out to others" ... "they recognise themselves in what we have built"

"Spaces enter a process of self-identification, ownership, and evolution based on group interests and ideas ... ever-evolving, growing, or decaying communities that build themselves, develop and eventually dismantle"

Tribal human mindsets - preexisting social codes that include or exclude sectors of people within structure of social interactions and repertory of cultural codes

Audience of socially engaged art : immediate circle of participations, critical art world & society at large

Pg 23 : artist prescribes set parameters for audiences and spaces

"Audiences are never "others" - they are always very concrete selves"

Allan Bell 1984 : "audience design" - multiple social and linguistic environments through register and social dialect variations

Pg 24 : Artists conventionally can "only create of themselves" however "how is one's notion of one's self created" : "construct of a vast collectivity of people who have influenced one's thoughts and one's values"

Pg 25 : speak to oneself is more of a "solipistic exercise" silent way to speak to a summarised civilisation in our minds - fictional groupings based on biased assumptions

Productive to work without audience presuppositions and focus needs to be on understanding and defining groups - conscious steps to reach out to them in constructive, methodical way & articulating the audiences and context

Pg 27 : shifting expectations and perceptions from a given community "why create a revolution, for whom, and for what purpose?"

Pg 30 : artists insert themselves in social environments & unfamiliar social dynamics with awareness of how interpersonal scenarios emerge to develop understanding of needs and interests of the parties involved

Social exchange theory : individual relations based on social economy

Complex underpinnings of social intercourse and outcome interdependence conforming to identifiable patterns

Corresponding vs conflicting interests ; exchange problems & articulation ; and information conditions (differing ideas and motivations)

Miscommunication of new interpersonal situations without constrained environments

Pg 34 : multiple variables of social environments (social space) and scenarios breaking disciplinary boundaries and intruding upon and affecting environments

Pg 35 : social work is humanity & ideal value based work as in artist but whilst invoking reflection - self-reflexivity and criticality in which art can be deliberately instrumental

Pg 36 : service-orientated piece or symbolic statement in the context of our cultural history or entering larger artistic debate

Blurred boundaries of art - noncommittal or referencing possibly dichotomy between art, non-art and profits

Pg 37 : Art is confronted by the history of individual or community with art & social issues

Using tools to upset expectations either positively or negatively

Trust of a community : mutual respect, inclusivity and collaborative involvement

Pg 39 : Marc Sautet : cafes philosophiques - gatherings of social and philosophical discussion as a Socratic method of dialogue

Pg 40 : process of conversation as their medium for collective conclusion around a particular issue - dialogical art

Conversation is centre of sociality, of collective understanding and organisation : "allow people to engage with others, create community, learn together or simply share experiences"

Pg 42 : power structures limiting and logo-centrism

Friere : "the act of discussion is a process of emancipation"

Conversation placed between pedagogy and art as a form of individual enrichment : expertise, imagination, creativity, wit and knowledge "colloquial commerce of thought"

Pg 43 : exchange rather than conversation that lead to expositional formats

Convivial environments climate formality and protocols : Is a space an installation?

Pg 44 : a space in which any conversation can happen ; semblance of meaningful conversation or illustrations of interaction - question passivity

Pg 45 : Open format of exchange with a directive or objective

Familiar discursive models : conversational or debate vs monologue

Pg 46 : Arrive at a particular core consensus at demand of conversation leader & dialogic structure

Discussion-based teaching practices determine the depth of engagement

Bloom's taxonomy : knowledge, comprehension, application, analysis, synthesis & evaluation

Value is depth of intellectual effect : significant impact on thinking and vice versa

Pg 48 : open conversation structure and acceptance of participant input mean group shapes the exchange & members contribute to the exchange and utilitarian capacity

Individuals can ultimately uninteresting in immersing themselves in the universe of the community

As an artist : genuine interest in involving dialogue or collaboration from interlocutors, demonstrate respect, learn from experience, construct relationships and true curiosities

When acting solely as an agent - gives up responsibility of creating a critical dialogue, dependant situation in solving a problem and paternalistic

Pg 51 : tone of collaboration is set by artist with expectation of conceptual director of the project due to accountability and expertise - pattern of dependency

Pg 52 : modes of communication that recognise the limitations and potentials of a collective relationship in a productive collaborative capacity

Pg 53 : Accountability : false assumption of artist as a neutral entity & invisible catalyst of experience, denying individual initiative as a 'elimination of authorship'

Pg 54 : Artist : provider of frameworks which experiences can form and channelled to generate new insights

Incentives of participants : unrealistic who demand a lot from collaborators not in decision-making process but not without seeing artist as a service agent so must create a meaningful framework for reflection and critical exchange that are not predetermined in structure

Pg 59 : advancing dialogue on antagonism : controversial, confrontational or non-confrontational by taking a critical position in raising questions, not providing answers and hostile alienation (instead provoking reflection)

Pg 61 : voluntary (participants ulterior purpose & agreement) ; non-voluntary (provoking & no negotiation) ; involuntary

Pg 65 : assimilation or rejection are time and place dependant and symbolic reflection of action

Pg 67 - 68 : performance allows for a cultural inversion in which social hierarchies are temporarily broken through satire, celebration, and chaos

Spectacle or entertainment when engaging in unexpected experiences? Does goals of encouraging playfulness reach the consciousness of individuals or communities?

Pg 69 : Edutainment : spectacle can be means not end of activity in role with art education

Pg 70 : "When play upsets the existing social values ... room is created for reflection, escaping hedonistic experience of the spectacle"

Awareness that an outcome visible [product] to an outside observer may not materialise

Blurred boundaries between artwork and experience - constructive pedagogy

Pg 71 : [constructing models of interactions when positioned between tentative locations made into concrete experiences in which interstices become locations of meaning]

Pg 73 : Authorship relies on tangible product : documentation of action is copyright of artist

Pg 74 : interpreter not primary reporter of accounts of active engagement

Blurring between objective experience, claim of autonomy and realities' critical response

Pg 75 : Documentation : objective and verifiable and not exclusive extension of the author - must be an intersubjective critique, public, inextricable component of an action, quotidian and evolving component in coproduction of viewers, interpreters and narrators

Pg 77 : Transpedagogy : blend of educational processes and art making from conventional methods and process at core of artwork

Pg 78 : autonomous environment, mostly outside of academic and institutional framework

Education-as-art : aim to democratise viewers but reluctant to standard evaluative structures

Pg 79 : Critiquing conventional bureaucratic notions of pedagogy whilst articulating critique aims

Mainstream : restrictive, controlling and homogenising through recitation, biographical meaning evidence and hegemonic force

"Disavowal of the civic responsibility to provide learning structures to those who need them the most and a reinforcement of elitism"

"To turn education into a self-selective process in contemporary art only reinforces the elitist tendencies of the art world"

Pg 80 : Creativity performativity of the act of education ; collective construction of an art milieu is a collective construction of knowledge ; knowledge of art ... tool for understanding the world."

Pg 81 : art practice, education, research, utilising art formats and processes as pedagogical vehicles to focus on social process of exchange

"Powerful and positive re-envisioning of education that can only happen in art, as it depends on arts unique patterns of performativity, experience, and exploration of ambiguity"

Pg 83 : paralysing possibilities in dismantling craft & skills, subdivision of departments, hierarchy of academic theory with vast social realm

Pg 84 : Artificial environment of an art school against reality ; disconnect between art programs and art practice

Pg 85 : multi-disciplinary projects needed to replace chaotic process of "de-schooling"

Pg 86 : value of non-art speciality, technical abilities

Components of art curriculum : methodological approaches of socially centred disciplines ; possibility of reconstructing and reconfiguring itself according to the needs and interests of students ; experiential approach to art in world as stimulating challenge ; re-function curriculum of art history and practice

Pg 87 : removal of monolithic schedule of subjects but needs based organic exchange

Lottie Matthews © 2020
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