New Critical Framework for Socially Engaged Art

Shannon Jackson
Theater, Dance, & Performance Studies
UC Berkeley

Grant Kester
Visual Arts
UC San Diego

The purpose of this working group was to initiate a series of scholarly and creative dialogues focused on the development of new theoretical and methodological approaches in the analysis of socially engaged art (SEA). Over the past fifteen years interest in socially engaged art has expanded dramatically, with a specific focus on projects organized around collaborative or collective forms of production. Despite the widespread interest in this work it has received relatively little informed criticism or scholarly analysis, aside from a handful of recent books and blogs. This is due in part to the fact SEA practices tend to challenge many of the normative conventions of existing art criticism, and require a new, trans-disciplinary approach. Numerous faculty and graduate students from UCSD and UC Berkeley were brought together to address the development of new theories and methods for the analysis of SEA.