The Social Turn: A Reflection

Of today’s readings, I was most taken with Claire Bishop’s “The Social Turn: Collaboration and Its Discontents. In it, the author talks about how the goal of modernism has been to blur the distinction between art and life and the way in which relational, collective art seeks to re-humanize people in the face of capitalism. What I found interesting about this concept is that the re-humanization is both a process and an end result. This type of art has thrived in recent years, though not in a commercial realm because it rarely is about the end physical process, additionally, authorship is collective, which takes from its ability to garner prestige. The process itself is re-humanizing, because it is taking people away from their TVs and putting them face-to-face with one another, collaborating on something with no monetary end result. Because the end product is not the goal, we are absent from becoming merely an instrument of labor and the lack of a product re-emphasizes the separation from things. She thinks of the “process as a political act,” a thought which forces us to re-consider what a piece or art means or what purpose it serves. This idea takes away from the “thingness” and re-emphasizes community interaction. In many of the interventions cited, activity is encouraged between people from different walks of life, further defying the functioning of a class-ordered society. It is through these exchanges, that creativity and change can truly flourish. 

Bishop also mentions that one of the most influential collectives is a trio of women in Turkey, who are not only using this practice for re-humanization, but also to expand the notions of art in a place where this is generally relegated to painting and sculpture. It is interesting to consider the significant role of women in this expanding artistic movement. Considering that women traditionally are socialized to be peace-keepers and community-makers, it seems fitting that they would thrive in this sort of art, perhaps in contrast to historically more capitalistic/patriarchal notions of art.

Categories: Reflective Posts


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