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1981
Volume 6, Issue 1
  • ISSN: 2055-2823
  • E-ISSN: 2055-2831

Abstract

Social practices, whether described as socially-engaged, participatory or community-based, share the potential to transform audience members into active participants in an artwork or project. However, the purpose of this public engagement is sometimes in conflict with the private experience of the viewer, constructing a complex relationship between audience, artist and gallery. Beginning by contextualizing the historic position of the audience in relation to the arts, the present article uses this as grounding to unpick elements of the dynamic which exist today. ‘The audience’ investigates the reported social benefits of engaging in the arts, questioning how evidence of these positive effects is reported and judged. This article exemplifies Marcelo Sánchez-Camus’ work with patients in palliative care and Spacemakers’ community-based projects as artworks intended to instigate positive social change. Further, ‘The artist’ explores the relationship between those facilitating these projects and their audience. By breaking down the term ‘audience’ into viewers, participants, collaborators and co-authors, one can use levels of agency to segment those involved and the differing experiences of their involvement. Petra Bauer’s long-term collaborative work with SCOT PEP is used to demonstrate how a group’s agency and stakes within an artwork can be enhanced by building relationships on equal terms. Finally, ‘The gallery’, uses the high-profile examples of Tate Group and Venice Biennale to demonstrate how the more powerful entities in the art world can misrepresent engagement and participation as quantitative markers of success or accessibility. This article ultimately aims to question what motivates the production of social practice and how these entities are important in constituting a successful process and outcome, for audience, artist and institute.

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2020-06-01
2024-07-13
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