Caroline Woolard on how we share, organize, and create together

image courtesy of OurGoods.org/resources/ethics

This is part of an ongoing set of one-question emails sent to people we know, or would like to get to know, about things that interest us and inform our collective practice. They’ll be featured on the site weekly, usually on Fridays. These questions are more about unfolding ideas than about the people we’re asking, but we do ask those kinds of questions too.

We’re pleased to continue this project with a question for Caroline Woolard, one of the founders of two incredibly great initiatives, OurGoods.org and Trade School.


How can we not only define, but also enact, a new set of ethics and values that could transform the way we share, organize, and create?

Most people already have curiosity, enthusiasm, and strong desires to speak truth, hone a craft, produce beauty, and connect with others. So I will rephrase the question: How can we practice sharing, organizing, and creating in ways that transform ourselves, our communities, and the world? Here are some ways I do this:

 

Create online tools for collaboration and exchange!

We are only twenty years into the internet-era. We are in a beautifully experimental stage of the information revolution. Since the internet reached a critical mass in 1990, many people have been asking online platforms to foster deep connections in real time and space. At OurGoods.org, we support the production of new work through barter, because resource sharing is the paradigm of the 21st century. OurGoods is specifically dedicated to the barter of creative skills, spaces, and objects, because we want to build tools for the communities we are part of.

 

Learn from elders in sharing communities

We are in a contemporary fumbling for sharing rituals at intimate-distance. I’ve been looking to 30-year-old intentional communities and collectively-run spaces and institutions for advice. I’ve been visiting the intentional community Ganas, in NYC, to learn about the relationships they’ve built to share money, cars, houses, and work for over 30 years. At Ganas, for three decades, a voluntary daily meeting is set aside for members to talk through their personal struggles with cooperation. Members of Ganas recognize that no change will happen unless we struggle to “become the change we want to see in the world.” We are conditioned to compete, talk over, and gossip. We need more spaces to practice cooperating, listening, and working through conflict. Jen Abrams, a co-founder of OurGoods, has worked in the oldest collectively-run women and trans theater space for 13 years. She reminds me that, “you have to take time to check in with one another…emotions are not efficient… either you address your feelings together before the meeting, or you end up working through them while trying to have a meeting.”

 

Vocalize your Values

At Trade School, we asked a facilitator to help us come up with our principles. We talked about why we were each involved in Trade School New York (there are now Trade Schools in over 6 countries) and brainstormed about the things that are at the core of our work (the things that probably won’t ever be changed). After 2 hours, we made this rough set of working principles:

 

WHAT?

1. Trade School is a learning experiment where teachers barter with students.

2. Trade School is not free– we believe in the power of non-monetary value.

3. We place equal value on big ideas, practical skills, and experiential knowledge.

WHY?

1. Everyone has something to offer.

2. We are actively working to create safe spaces for people and ideas.

3. We want more spaces made by and for the people who use them.

HOW?

1. Trade School runs on mutual respect.

2. We avoid hoarding leadership by sharing responsibilities and information.

3. We are motivated by integrity, not coercion.

4. Our organization is always learning and evolving.

 

Practice forever

We recognize that bartering is a way to experiment with value. Because value is subjective, some people may not value the work that you make as much as you do. After bartering for years on OurGoods.org, we’ve come up with these basic guidelines:

 

1. Be clear: Define the exchange. Articulate what constitutes a job well-done.

2. Do your homework: Read your partner’s profile and feedback. Meet before you agree.

3. Be accountable: Do what you said you were going to do, when you said you’d do it.

4. Communicate: Stay in touch. Talk about what’s going right (or wrong) as it happens.

5. Leave feedback: This is what makes our community work.


Caroline Woolard is a Brooklyn based, post-media artist exploring civic engagement and communitarianism. Her work is collaborative and often takes the form of sculptures, websites, and workshops. Woolard is a co-founder of OurGoods.org and Trade School, two barter economies for cultural producers, and a coordinating member of SolidarityNYC, an organization that promotes grassroots economic justice.

Simon Rabyniuk on the division of practice and real life

movement (time spent) Maps : part III - 1 by Cara Spooner

This is part of an ongoing set of one-question emails sent to people we know, or would like to get to know, about things that interest us and inform our collective practice. They’ll be featured on the site weekly, usually on Fridays. These questions are more about unfolding ideas than about the people we’re asking, but we do ask those kinds of questions too.

We’re pleased to continue this project with a question for SRSI and Homework alumnus and one half of the Department of Unusual Certainties, a Toronto-based research and design collective, Simon Rabyniuk.


Where does practice end and real life begin?

There is no division between practice and life. My first reading of this question situates it as something about the experience of the individual, and because of the context I’m receiving it in, something about the experience of the individual artist. Although I think it becomes a more interesting question dealt with in broader terms.

What is practice? For an individual a practice is a personal commitment to an action (i.e. the practice of active listening). I would propose that a fundamental quality of a practice is a conscious intent expressed through the process of trial, reflection, and learning; while routine may be part of one’s practice, intent keeps it from becoming route behaviour. For an artist I would propose that commitment be understood as a lifestyle of exploration in the production of material or embodied relationships. I would also propose that there is a distinction between the singular and plural use of the term. An individual can have many personal practices, while they have a professional practice.



movement (time spent) Maps : part III 5 – by Cara Spooner

 

What is real life? Life is form changing through time. Enacted on a sensing being, this change in form becomes a sequence of experiences. Organized as memories these sequences form a narrative and a sense of identity. This definition fails to articulate the social character of a human’ life. Somehow ‘real life’ is different then that. Real life is nested in the colloquial, the work/leisure/boredom cycle, desire, and responsibilities. A day in one’s real life is bisected into what you sell, and what you keep for yourself.

Real life somehow refers to artists having jobs beyond their practice as an artist. The question “Where does practice end and real life begin?” perhaps asks if when an artist’s time is not going towards making things do their practice and real life become separate things within them? Again, I would propose they do not. There are many prominent examples of artists who use their art practice to reflect on and respond to the experience of their present situation. Two examples that may represent a spectrum of approaches are Michelle Allard and Adrian Piper. Allard explores the formal constructive properties of the office supplies she uses in her day job. Piper explores the reaction raced/classed bodies produce in social spaces. One’s experience, including their real life, becomes a source to parse through in ones practice as an artist.


Simon Rabyniuk is a Toronto-based visual artist and member of Department of Unusual Certainties. His work often draws upon performance, video, drawing, and sculpture to explore cities and their systems.

He has presented work across Canada including as part of Hammering Away, Workers Arts and Heritage Centre (Hamilton), Meet us on the Commons, Art Gallery of Mississauga, 7a*11d International Festival of Performance Art (Toronto), the Harbourfront Centre’s Hatch Emerging Performance Series, at Ryerson University’s Modernity Unbound Symposium, and as part of Broken City Labs’ Storefront Residency for Social Innovation(Windsor). In 2011 he recieved support from the Ontario Arts Council through their Emerging Artist Grant .

Cara Spooner has been involved in performance related projects as a dancer, choreographer, designer and curator. She has presented work at Toronto’s Nuit Blanche, XPACE Cultural Centre, The Harbourfront Centre’s HATCH Emerging Performance Project, Pleasure Dome, The Mississauga Art Gallery, The Festival of New Dance, Badass Dance Fun and Stromereien 11. caraspooner.com

Rodrigo Martí on field work and alterity

Barricade Sculpture workshop courtesy of rodrigomarti.com

This is part of an ongoing set of one-question emails sent to people we know, or would like to get to know, about things that interest us and inform our collective practice. They’ll be featured on the site weekly, usually on Fridays. These questions are more about unfolding ideas than about the people we’re asking, but we do ask those kinds of questions too.

We’re pleased to continue this project with a question for a dear friend and exceptionally generous artist, Rodrigo Martí.


What service or disservice can artistic practices do to our ideas and understandings of economies, politics, and everyday life?

Google Docs mushroom by RM

freaking out on field work
rumminations of battles won, lost and those yet resolved.

We were still green behind the ears having just begun a demanding graduate program a week prior. Directed by an invited artist and a curator, we were set to start our first group project. The four month endeavor would consider the responsibility of cultural institutions to their surrounding communities.

The steps were simple enough. Step one; mapping out community-based organizations that aligned with our political motivations, we were then to make contact and initiate a working relationship. There lay the snag in our step. A few of us began to squirm in our seats over the rush to start working in the field. It just so happened that the loudest dissenters were those of us (myself included) who had formal arts school backgrounds. We the squirmers, argued for the necessity of proper preparation which for us meant having more time, doing more reading, and engaging in more in-depth debate around the nature of field work before ACTUALLY getting ‘out there’. The response by the teachers was unequivocal: they insisted we cool our nerves and act on our dedication to the goals of our intended partnerships. Our commitment was an indication of our readiness to begin doing the inevitably dirty and unpredictable work in the field, period.

It occurred to me several months later and after the completion of the project that there was a significant pedagogical, even epistemological position being advocated by our teachers’ insistence on getting dirty rather than rooting ourselves in scholastic insight. Obviously – being in a graduate program – reading would definitely happen at some point. What’s clear to me now is that our hesitation marked a pedagogical and cultural bias we had picked up involving the nature and process of research and ‘good’ cultural production. This caused those of us generally more comfortable in the academic setting to fall back on academia as a preparatory safety bubble to postpone the insecurities felt in getting ‘out there’, potentially making things worse, or making fools of ourselves.


– ALL THE ALL CAP FREAK OUTS -

An echo resonated in my mind from the first gander at Broke City Lab’s question, I’d heard it before somewhere. Preoccupation with the value of our work as cultural practitioners working in the field has come from cynics arguing against its relevance and ethics, by practitioners recognition of the issue as a hurdle to surpass or an ongoing anxiety; it is most definitely in the rumblings of my own thoughts. While the complexity ingrained in the questions of service or ‘doing good’ offers an enormous area to consider, my focus here is on the initial anxiety and its ensuing self-doubts. There is an inherent self-doubt in the questioning of doing good vs. doing bad. Doubt has proven to be constructive to our modern modes of production and in our resultant identities, and though it is fruitful in many instances, it can be detrimental. This doubt’s genesis lies in existential self-questioning rather than a skeptical look at the structural, disciplinary or historical questions. It is my hope to warn against the creeping in of self-doubt as an excuse to work within one’s comfort zones while meandering some of its causes.

I’m in the midst of reading Grant Kester’s second book, The One and the Many, in which he considers the nature of collaborative art in today’s global contemporary art scene. There are two comments he makes that are particularly relevant and succinct. While framing the pressing ethical implications of artists opening up to alterity, Kester points out that there is “no art practice that avoids all forms of co-option, compromise, or complicity.”(1) While this statement can easily be considered a truism, it is also too easy to project insurmountable expectations and build pristine glass palaces around our intentions, especially when embarking towards new territory in our practices. While this projection can be the ‘spirit’ or ideal of your work, lacking a distinction between the image and the necessarily blemished path it must travel to become realized has easily resulted in frustrated efforts and unnecessary hesitation in my experience. This same disparity can lead to prematurely asking: ’is working in the field really worth it?’ without ever dedicating oneself to completing the necessary work. While I have had the fortune to work with, learn from and aspire to the work of several artists who have realized massive, successful projects extending to years of dedicated ground work, fundraising, stranddling of disciplinary and class lines etc.. It is John Cage’s suggestion to help restart an artist’s blocked practice: start anywhere, that trumps lofty intentions to the daily adherence to get through the daily hurdles and road blocks on the path of completing any effort.

The second Kester reference is framed by a larger cultural observation he makes, noting the growth of collaborative practices in recent years and commenting that these practices consider “extended interaction and shared labor..(as well as) participatory practice itself… as a form of creative praxis”(2). I agree with considering collaboratively working in the field as its own space of creative development, sustenance and learning. It has its own particular forms of engagement, not only in the inevitable clashes of working in alterity or the inevitability of the thumb of random, unforeseen or unavoidable disturbances finding their way into our pretty, schematic images of our work. Collaborative endeavors as a form of venturing and working with radically different elements in our practice are a particular artistic form and medium in and of itself. It is from this understanding that my grad school profs founded their advice to chill out and get out into the freakin’ field.

Stress, anxiety and freaking out are inevitable and helpful reaction that help push us to thoroughly prepare for an uncertain task. In a sense as public practitioners, we’re asking for it.

So, what can artistic practices do to our ideas and understanding? ANYTHING! No matter if its devoted gaze is fixed on politics, economics, everyday life or any other framing of time, system of value or discipline. But when considering what we do, and particularly what is being done today in the incipient institutional framing of public practice, I’d begin by underlying the need for not only an articulation of the nature of the ethical value of our labor, but also for the necessity to maintain a productive mix of morale support and productive critical commentary or (to add an avant-garde-y splash) ‘rigueur’. Before beginning our first year project, artist and theorist Suzanne Lacy unambiguously proclaimed to my cohort that ‘us public practitioners need to do double the work’. More reason for finding and sharing techniques to sustain individual determination and promote the freakiness one gains from the proximity and dirtiness of being ‘out there’.

footnotes:

1 – Kester, H. Grant. The One and The Many: Contemporary Art in a Global Context.(Duke University Press 2011) 2.

2 – Kester, H. Grant. The One and The Many: Contemporary Art in a Global Context.(Duke University Press 2011) 9.


Rodrigo Marti is a Mexican-Canadian artist who’s social and conceptual practice has lead to an increased involvement in sociopolitical concerns. Recent projects have worked with issues of access in public education, student activism and gang intervention with particular interest in public speech, myth and freedom of expression. Rodrigo completed his Master’s of Fine Arts in Public Practice at Otis College of Art and Design in May of 2011. He is based in Toronto, Canada and on rodrigomarti.com.

Sarah Margolis-Pineo on Curatorial Practices

Sarah Margolis-Pineo presenting at Homework

This is part of an ongoing set of one-question emails sent to people we know, or would like to get to know, about things that interest us and inform our collective practice. They’ll be featured on the site weekly, usually on Fridays. These questions are more about unfolding ideas than about the people we’re asking, but we do ask those kinds of questions too.

We’re pleased to continue this project with a question for a recent presenter at our Homework conference and curator at Cranbrook Art Museum, Sarah Margolis-Pineo.


Does the role of a curator need to be redefined to meet the ever-shifting demands of contemporary practices or is it a useful anchor to continually reaffirm the boundaries of contemporary art?

It seems to me that curatorial practice has been in continuous flux since the 1970s, and the field will continue shift in relation to various forces including changing creative practices, but also in response to the ebbs of global economies, social and political discourses, new media platforms, and the role of the cultural institution within localities. The late twentieth century saw the emergence of the curator-artist, (not to be confused with the artist-curator), who used the exhibition as a platform to participate in the production of meaning opposed to a venue for preservation and didacticism. In the current moment, the curator can operate simultaneously as community organizer and cultural theorist, bringing together works and projects that are generative—cultivating discourse that contributes to the fabric of social and cultural life both regionally and globally. It’s my feeling that the integration of curatorial practice studies into nearly every MFA program at least in the US is a testament to the evolving nature of the field. Emerging curators are trained in tandem with emerging artists, their practices linked by shared interests, and diverge only in media.

I’m assuming your question also serves to unpack how curators will continue to address creative dark matter, which is understood as the vast majority of artistic practice including tactical media, DIY, and artisanal projects, that exist in the shadow of the art world, and further, reject mainstream visibility all together. In part, this work falls in the trajectory of the countercultural movement for its Drop City mentality that relies on craft and sustainable design; but further, it relates to avant-garde resistance that forged alternative cultural spaces, intervened in everyday urban life, and openly critiqued the institution. It’s my assumption that the biennial phenomenon which exploded all over the last decade of the twentieth century rose to meet the demands of alternative creative practices by offering a site for project-based work outside the traditional art institution, (which often strategically ignored the connection between the global art exhibition and political hegemony). It seems that in many ways, the grand show global biennial has been played out, and artists and collectives are again forging new spaces—often aided by 2.0 media, as venues for exhibition, performance, and participation. My question as an emerging curator is how can the museum and regional arts space evolve to become a viable venue for the nebulous dark matter that employs creative practice as a site for social and political engagement? Can cultural producers be complicit with the structure of the institution, exploiting the qualities of the institution that makes it, well, institutional—the Foucauldian heterotopia, an otherspace, separated from everyday life? In essence, how can this unique iteration of cultural practice operate from within established spaces, simultaneously making use of and changing the architecture of institutions?

Apologies for addressing your question with additional questions! All I can say with certainty is that the figure of the curator is as much an anchor as the figure of the artist. The two practices are intertwined to contribute to the larger field of cultural work, and I’m eager to participate in this collaborative well into the new century.


Sarah Margolis-Pineo is a curator and writer. She received her MA in Exhibition and Museum Theory from San Francisco Art Institute in 2008, and has worked in San Francisco, Philadelphia, and New York. Currently, she is the Jeanne and Ralph Graham Curatorial Fellow at Cranbrook Art Museum in Bloomfield Hills, MI.

Steve Lambert on Utopia

Steve Lambert "I WILL TALK WITH ANYONE…", courtesy of visitsteve.com

This is part of an ongoing set of one-question emails sent to people we know, or would like to get to know, about things that interest us and inform our collective practice. They’ll be featured on the site weekly, usually on Fridays. These questions are more about unfolding ideas than about the people we’re asking, but we do ask those kinds of questions too.

We’re pleased to continue this project with a question for one of our most favourite artists, Steve Lambert.


How might you write an if-then-else statement to describe the notion of utopia in your practice?

IF the world is not what we desire

THEN deal with reality as it has been constructed for us

ELSE make it ourselves


Steve Lambert’s father, a former Franciscan monk, and mother, an ex-Dominican nun, imbued the values of dedication, study, poverty, and service to others – qualities which prepared him for life as an artist.

Lambert made international news after the 2008 US election with The New York Times “Special Edition,” a replica of the “paper of record” announcing the end of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and other good news. He has collaborated with groups from the Yes Men to theGraffiti Research Lab and Greenpeace. He is also the founder of the Center for Artistic Activism, the Anti-Advertising Agency, Add-Art (a Firefox add-on that replaces online advertising with art) and SelfControl (which blocks grownups from distracting websites so they can get work done).

Steve’s projects and art works have won awards from Prix Ars Electronica, Rhizome/The New Museum, the Creative Work Fund, Adbusters Media Foundation, the California Arts Council, and others. His work has been shown at galleries, art spaces, and museums nationally and internationally, appeared in over fourteen books, four documentary films, and in the collections of The Sheldon Museum, the Progressive Insurance Company, and The United States Library of Congress. Lambert has discussed his work live on NPR, the BBC, and CNN, and been reported on internationally in outlets including Associated Press, the New York Times, the Guardian, Harper’s Magazine, The Believer, Good, Dwell, ARTnews, Punk Planet, and Newsweek.

He was a Senior Fellow at New York’s Eyebeam Center for Art and Technology from 2006-2010, developed and leads workshops for Creative Capital Foundation, and is faculty at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Steve is a perpetual autodidact with (if it matters) advanced degrees from an reputable art school and respected state university. He dropped out of high school in 1993.

Nick Tobier on art, expectations & encounters

City Walker, courtesy of everydayplaces.com

This is part of an ongoing set of one-question emails sent to people we know, or would like to get to know, about things that interest us and inform our collective practice. They’ll be featured on the site weekly, usually on Fridays. These questions are more about unfolding ideas than about the people we’re asking, but we do ask those kinds of questions too.

We’re ecstatic to continue this project with a question for a recent artist-in-residence at Homework: Infrastructures & Collaboration and all-around excellent Detroit neighbour, Nick Tobier.


What does art do for people who experience something that they don’t necessarily read as being art?

An intuitive response to anything, I think, an honest encounter with the world is just about as direct and honest as you can get in having an experience. Wonder, puzzlement, pique, bemusement, delight–I am a big fan of all that swirling around before we pause and recognize what it is or why it is.

Once it is pinpointed and sorted, and understood amidst all of the other things it most closely resembles, the experience may or may not be (art) but it is starting to fade.

Wonder, for instance, that I imagine 14th century pilgrims to Chartres Cathedral saw when they looked up at the stained glass windows. That may be a type of awe-inspiring transcendent encounter with art, where a gut response is flushed with sheer scale and visual information.

Expectations and context affect just about everything, so with the pilgrimage, I suppose you are somewhat primed for something perspective-shifting. And while maybe that’s too grandiose a claim or romantic a vision, I’d stand up and say that the revelatory experiences I aspire to tend to the wonder/bemusement spectrum up there with revelation

The pilgrim takes off purposefully to encounter an inspiring experience. Our contemporary equivalent (perhaps without the religious directive) may know far too much to be enraptured by a visual display. Tell me it is art ahead of time, and my expectations are set to judge. But shift from the cathedral or its near equivalents in cultural significance to a more everyday context–a suburban strip mall, a highway, an intersection, a routine sequence in life. Here is where the struggle to achieve transcendence is most needed today. If even for a split second, we can sidestep the expectations of what the next second is going to look, sound or feel like, the seconds after that will be infinitely possible.


Nick Tobier (that’s me) would say (I do) that he does public construction. Nick studied landscape architecture at Harvard’s Graduate School of Design and subsequently worked as a landscape architect in private practice and with the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation/Bronx Division. Through individual and collective work, Tobier’s interest in the potential of public places has manifested itself in built public projects and actions in San Francisco, Detroit and New York, internationally from Toronto to Tokyo, and performances on the stage and in the streets from Milan to Paramaribo, Suriname and at The Edinburgh, Minneapolis and Philadelphia Fringe Festivals.

In his work and teaching, currently as an Associate Professor in the School of Art & Design at The University of Michigan, Tobier focuses on the integration of art and society, and actively challenges artists to expand their self-definitions and scope. These efforts have included partnerships with artists and farmers; critical and celebratory involvements between artists, art students and broad communities; lectures as performances and vice-versa; and a growing commitment to lasting partnerships working with creative individuals and communities in Detroit.

Sue Bell Yank on Art and Social Practice

from suebellyank.com/

This is part of an ongoing set of one-question emails sent to people we know, or would like to get to know, about things that interest us and inform our collective practice. They’ll be featured on the site weekly, usually on Fridays. These questions are more about unfolding ideas than about the people we’re asking, but we do ask those kinds of questions too.

We’re ecstatic to launch this project with a question for Sue Bell Yank.


Is social practice, as a term or label, more valuable in extending the reach and possibility of visual artists, or more valuable as an articulation of an entirely different space and mode of production?

Social practice falls under the rubric of art, but it doesn’t really extend the reach and possibility of artists, because its realm has always been the artists’ realm – or perhaps art in an expanded form as it has existed since the 1960s. But if one draws an arbitrary line at the 60s, which saw the birth of land art, performance art, conceptualism, one can then extend to the precursors of those works, to Dada, to surrealism, to then the precursors of those movements…to Impressionism…

So how can it be anything but art, historically and practically? Social practice is a convenient (if perhaps indelicate) name for current practices that have grown from important artistic concepts that have been around for decades. The best artists of any time challenge hegemony, attempt to break through the complacency of their audiences to awaken them to alternate possibilities (the very raison d’etre of the avant-garde), investigate societal problems and (sometimes) create new ones, break apart systems and ways of being and re-envision them poetically.

That being said, the space and mode of production of social practice is indeed broader than what we traditionally think of as studio practice, object-making, but grows from and infects those realms as well. It is hybrid, it is vigorous, it reaches into many other systems and aspects of being beyond the art context. It manifests programmatically as conferences, participatory activities, workshops, dinners, shops, performances, community centers, even housing tracts – reaching beyond the cube to the board room and proscenium and public park and neighborhood.

Is the term itself valuable? Why are such labels valuable in the first place? Primarily, for access. Yet for many of these projects, it seems unimportant precisely how participants access them, as long as they do. They don’t necessarily need to understand them as Art. In fact, sometimes labeling a project as Art, to a general public, allows them to dismiss it as something wackadoo and not worth much thought or attention. But the term “social practice” is also unintelligible to a general public, so not very useful in that effort either. People tend to take these projects on their own terms.

Another value to a label is categorization within the industry itself, that industry being Art. In that case, the label social practice indeed allows for an extension of the artists’ reach in a more mainstream fashion. Artists who work in this way are gaining traction at more and more institutions, increasingly in demand for participatory, engagement-based, or community-based projects that are extremely attractive to cities and cultural institutions. Social practice becomes a useful umbrella term, though its vagueness also leads to powerful misconceptions and mismanaged expectations. This is the dark underbelly of labeling – putting these artists and their projects into a convenient box as “audience development tools,” able to do the hard work of reaching underserved demographics, of creating inclusive and festival-like environments where everyone can participate in making art and feeling good about themselves. We then begin to forget that social practice is really about challenge, and problems, and that hard work of practicing new systems of the social, of reworking dysfunctional aspects of society.

Like it or not, we are stuck with the term for the time being, and it is important for artists, arts organizers, and writers to diligently re-examine our understanding of it again and again, in all its complexity.


Sue Bell Yank is a writer and arts organizer. She is currently the Assistant Director of Academic Programs at the Hammer Museum, and adjunct faculty in the Roski School of Fine Arts at the University of Southern California. She graduated from the Masters of Public Art Studies program at USC, and completed her thesis on the role of contemporary art in rebuilding efforts after a crisis, focusing on post-Katrina New Orleans. She has worked with artist Edgar Arceneaux as a co-founder and Assistant Director for the Watts House Project, and has a deep-seated investment in non-profit organizations and arts-based urban planning practices. She was part of the curatorial team for the 2008 California Biennial, and most recently served as a curatorial advisor for the Creative Time Living as Form exhibition. Her writing has been featured in the 2008 California Biennial exhibition catalogue, Journal of Aesthetics and Protest, the Huffington Post, Mammut magazine, and various arts blogs including her ongoing essay blog entitled Social Practice: writings about the social in contemporary art (www.suebellyank.com).

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