At a time when the UK faces the treat of nationalism and the current governments fixation on closing down credible opposition with that feels like the emergence of a one party state, the role of art as an active agent in social change has never been more pressing. Influenced by the writings of Doreen Massey, my current practice investigates space in terms of the social and political landscape, raising questions about identity, solidarity and division. The country is split, the leavers and remainders, the urban and the rural, young utopian optimists and the older dystopian pessimists, the Daily Mail and the Guardian, the haves and the have-nots. How can democracy be re-invented, what role, if any, does art have in the shaping of new possibilities?
With all this in mind, I’ve decided to create a new category on this blog, RASP, Radical Art (and) Social Practice, to try and pull together some of my interests and concerns into some kind of coherent model, perhaps for a future project.
At the heart of these musings is the triangulated model of Art – Philosophy and Health (Or wellbeing).
Art = Expression, creativity and collaboration
Philosophy = New ways of being and unfolding
Health = Healthy communities, people and places
As this is an anti-reductionist model that seeks to resist the capitalist treacle that threatens to fill our mouthes, noses and lungs in an attempt to suffocate and consume, reducing us to machines. It should celebrate all that humanity has to offer, the clumsy, dirty and the awkward truth. It should be shapeless, capable of avoiding commodification and should be prepared to kill itself before it is pronounced dead, or subsumed by the treacle.
To start I’ll look at radical artistic collectives such as Dada, and Crass and seek to understand how they tried, but often failed, to resist the treacle, and at radical philosophers who offer new possibilities. Also I’ll look at critiques of radical social practice and include links to papers and websites of interest.
The difficult bit is how such a model (which shouldn’t be a model but at the moment I cant think of a better word to use) can be acted out, how it can be owned and be allowed to develop. Does it need a manifesto? does it need a set of instructions or a base from which to grow, how does it avoid ideology and how does it resist hierarchy and arboreal models of unfolding?
Perhaps I’m in danger of turning into a mad old geezer, ranting anti capitalist slogans at the clock tower, when my vision of the future includes a cottage by the sea, an easel and some paintbrushes. Who knows what the future holds?