Socially Engaged Art in a New World Order

Guest Editors: Karen van den Berg, Zeppelin University & Melissa Rachleff, NYU

Submission Deadline: 1 September 2022

The conviction that art is capable of shaping and experimentally developing new social forms and new ways of living together is as old as the artistic avant-garde. However, the social situatedness of art and the interplay between artists, non-artists, institutions, and policy makers have changed considerably. Just as socially engaged art is broadly accepted as a new discipline and considered as capable of creating new social forms, transdisciplinary cooperation, and learning-through-participation approaches, democracies are at risk and the geopolitical world order changes. The global climate emergency and the rise of autocratic governments, nationalist and rightist populist forces pose new contexts and threaten the work of socially engaged art. At the same time, artists and curators are suspected of belonging to a new Professional Managerial Class (PMC) that jeopardizes their own work in NGOs, museums, and academia through their entanglement in the neoliberal economic system. From here the question arises how art and social engagement catalyse new commons and progressive civic consciousness?  How do socially and politically engaged art projects deal with the danger of withdrawing self-referentially into micro-practices and thus losing sight of the planetary crisis and the big questions of social justice?

The issue planned here invites contributions dealing with arts, art projects, art institutions and cultural policies that see themselves as drivers of sustainable social and political transformation toward social justice and offer a way to critique and explore possibilities during this era of crisis. Contributions on the following topics are welcome:

  • Rhetorics: Analyses of the development of social engagement rhetoric via its reception in academia, art institutions, cultural policy, and philanthropy/funding lines and the tensions therein.
  • Theories: Theories that analyse the correlation between socially and politically engaged art and democratisation efforts.
  • Histories: The role and impact of socially engaged art in crises contexts.
  • Practices: Case studies of projects in repressive political contexts and case studies of projects and practices that directly engage in collaborative problem solving.

Contributions on these and other relevant questions are invited – in the form of research articles, essays, and case studies – from scholars in a range of fields, including those who work across sectors and disciplines, or who themselves bring a dual artist/researcher perspective to their work.

Submission Deadline: 1 September 2022

Please see the Submission Guidelines

Submit to submissions(at)jcmcp(dot)org

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