Socially engaged art practices have recently taken Texas by storm. Social practice, sometimes described as social sculpture or relational aesthetics, is much less concerned with art objects and much more with the space of human relationship, challenging conventional notions of artmaking and display.
There is Rick Lowe’s Trans.lation: Vickery Meadow project, part of the Nasher Sculpture Center’s citywide exhibition Nasher XChange in Dallas—on view through Feb. 16—which builds on his much-lauded and debated Project Row Houses, which is celebrating its twentieth anniversary in Houston. MAP (Make Art with Purpose), founded and directed by Janeil Engelstadt, organized dozens of projects in Dallas as a fall festival of socially conscious artmaking. And the traveling exhibition Feast: Radical Hospitality in Contemporary Art brought together a number of artists and events around the history of the artist-organized meal during its recent stop at the Blaffer Art Museum at the University of Houston. (Organized by Stephanie Smith, deputy director and chief curator of the University of Chicago’s Smart Museum of Art, Feast is on view at SITE Santa Fe, New Mexico Feb. 1-May 17.)
As a part of Feast, Blaffer director and chief curator Claudia Schmuckli moderated a public conversation between Smith and catalogue contributor Charles Esche, director of the Van Abbemuseum in Eindhoven, Netherlands. The panel’s topic, radical hospitality in institutions, opened up a number of questions. For instance, what lessons can art institutions learn from socially engaged artists? And are there differences between European institutional experiments with conceptually based, politically oriented art practices and their U.S. counterparts?
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Via Chuck Sherwood, Senior Associate, TeleDimensions, Inc