Correspondingly to Mouffe’s statement over the art practices in public spaces where they insist to reveal the subjects which are suppressed by the dominant consensus and dismantle what is obscure and swept under the carpet in order to “give voice to the voiceless in favor of the omnipresent hegemony” I distinguish the art projects of the Polish artist Krzysztof Wodiczko. In 1996, he launched a collaboration with communities and through his projects which contain sound and motion gives voice to the quiet, marginalized citizens who live overshadowed by the monuments. Over architectural facades, he projects pictures of hands, portraits or entire bodies which belong to distinctive groups of citizens who stand as witnesses of their own experiences (which they went through). One such project is the War Veteran Project where the artist interviews fourteen American war veterans who talk about war experiences, the difficulties they encounter upon their return to the normal, civil living, as well as the feelings of loss and guilt. Wodiczko edits these conversations and translates them in a video which he projects over the statue of Abraham Lincoln on the Union Square in New York in 2012. The establishment of relations between the artist and the community, regardless the proportion of the social group, is conclusive for artwork in the domain of the social practice. However, the flux of relating and its final outcome varies from one artwork to another. The collaboration itself is a significant component of this practice, and it is estimated by the artist, the creator of the project. When stepping into the role of a creator, collaborating with the community in a project, the artist must be aware of the main qualities of successful collaboration- responsibility and expertise, according to Helguera. In order to depict the notion of successful collaboration, Helguera refers to the experiences of the Brazilian philosopher Paolo Freire who states that the artists mustn’t stand in a superior position, rather stand unpretentiously have in mind that his/hers and the knowledge of the community which he/she works with are not more significant or substantial, but different.
When the individuals are mutually engaged in equality and intelligence, they are stimulated to exchange their intellectual undertakings, still keeping them apart and feeling equally capable of using the power of the others to pave their own path. When we participate in performance, painting, a text, a game or any other art form, the power that emerges is not triggered by the collective but by the capability of the anonymous, the one that unifies us. That capability can be practiced by unpredictable games of associations and dissociations… The position of a spectator doesn’t impose passivity that should be turned into an activity. That is our regular condition. We learn and teach, act and recognize as spectators, someone who, at any given moment, associate what they see with what they’ve seen, told, done or dreamt about. (Ransijer, 2010, p. 26)
In the last few years, in the museums and art universities, there is a high actualization of the question concerning the intersection of art, education and the performance and re-examination of the potentials and the roles of the institutions. Perhaps, to us, the most popular exemplar of consolidation between contemporary art and pedagogy is Joseph Boys who during the 1970s fought against the limitations of academic enrollment and for the establishment of a free, untraditional, open-access academy. “A free international university for creativity and interdisciplinary research” where any person can use its potentials as a creative being and where the economic studies wouldn’t rely strictly on money issues but rather on inventing alternative and creative forms of capital. Luis Camnitzer, Tim Rollins, Paul Chan, Tania Bruguera, are just a few of the artists whose main focus, for at least one period of their art practice, was on education. The alternative schools, like the one of Burguera from 2002-2009, aim not only to teach students how to make art but also how to experience and form a civil society. (Bishop, 2012, p. 237) Numerous museums follow/create these tendencies which contribute to the internal re-inventing and re-organizing of the institutions, making them open and active doers in the civil living. One such example in the Queens Museum in New York, where the artist Tania Burguera commences the experimental project, (which successfully functions for some time) The Immigrant Movement International through which she offers legal and other kinds of services to the migrants, including free professional consulting in various domains, legal advice, children workshops, practical skills courses, etc.
The curator Nato Thompson claims that Just like the video, the picture and the clay take form, so do people who gather. (Thompson, 2012, p. 22) Thompson supports his idea by adding that the civil actions, the spontaneous civil gatherings, and assemblies, the guerilla actions share the same attributes with the contemporary art and can be perceived in that way. The establishment of relations between the artist and the community, regardless the proportion of the social group, is conclusive for artwork in the domain of the social practice. However, the flux of relating and its outcome varies from one artwork to another. The activism and the political action are among the forms which we can use to fight against the “spectacle” as a product of the capitalistic machinery. The social practices in the contemporary art are some form of an antithesis of that spectacle and a critic against the spectacle mentioned by Guy Debord. Participatory art in the strictest sense forecloses the traditional idea of spectatorship and suggests a new understanding of art without audiences, one in which everyone is a producer. (Bishop, 2012, p. 36)