19 Questions I ask of my work:
7 Questions I do not ask of my work
* these are ongoing processes of observation and reflection, rather than questions I’d use to interrogate an idea, or work at an early stage
For more info on Lenka’s work, click here.
Lenka Clayton is a British-American conceptual artist and educator based in Pittsburgh. Her work contemplates, exaggerates and defamiliarizes accepted rules and practices of everyday life, extending the ordinary to the poetic and absurd.
Do I already know the answers to the questions this work asks?
Who is this work for? Me, other artists, an institution, or a broader community?
How is the work useful?
How can the work be instrumentalized by its participants, collaborators, or audience?
Where is paradise?
Does this work embody the change I want to see in the world?
Is it radical enough?
How can the work hold many viewpoints together?
If the change that matters is the one that occurs in the imagination first, how does the work inspire or make use of collective imagination?
Does the work challenge me to dream or re-imagine what feels possible?
Where is sustainability in the practice?
What is the work’s relationship to power? How can the work shift power in an equitable way?
How can the work be subversive?
What’s my value-added proposition?
What can I do better? What felt awkward, laborious, excessive, or tenuous? How can every part of the project strengthen the core concept?
Does the project still sound interesting when described in only a couple sentences?
Where does my joy live in the work?
How does the work help us talk about difficult things, or things we don’t want to examine?
If seeing is forgetting the name of the thing one sees, how can the work help me see?
Where is the light in the dark?
For more about Eric’s work, click here.
To learn more about Zeph’s work, go here.
To learn more about Xi Jie’s work, go here.
-Do I have the energy to follow through with what I have proposed; can I leave if I need to?
-Will the work – from concept to implementation – serve and sustain my health and well-being?
-Is the project necessary given what I am experiencing in life / my community / a wider social, cultural, or political context?
-Is it a good use of the opportunity to produce new work and the platform that I have access to?
– Is the value of my contribution to the field / discourse appropriately being acknowledged; how is my practice being instrumentalized by my host and the project’s stakeholders?
-How will the state of accessibility or the social, cultural, or political context affect the development process and how the work is received?
-Does what I have proposed effectively highlight, push against, or disrupt the disabling conditions that obstruct my agency?
-Does it reflect my politics and the ways that I want to live in community with others?
-Should it have a life beyond first being presented?
-Will production require additional expertise; what do I need help with and who should I ask?
-How should the project be documented?
-Does it have multiple access points; are there a variety of ways in which to enter the work?
-What will the participant experience at various points in the process?
-What does engaging as a participant require; how does the project position the participant?
-How should I approach my role as a facilitator; will I need help holding space at any point in the process?
-Are there barriers to participation based on the needs of those taking part; can I address these barriers as a facilitator?
-Can I describe the process and the implications of the work in ways that cater to the various learning styles in the room?
-How does the story of the project fit in with the other narratives that I have established with my work?
-Does documentation from a prior instance of the project carry its concept and experience?
-Does the project set a precedent that I can engage in the future?
For more information about Carmen’s work, click here.
Twenty Questions is a series that asks artists to create a list of questions that they ask themselves about their practice. Like the game “20 Questions”, the format offers readers a chance to get to know what a given artist’s practice might be.
You can learn more about Lisa’s work here.
Twenty Questions is a new series created by the Social Practice Journal that asks artists to create a list of questions that they ask themselves about their practice. Like the game “20 Questions”, the format offers readers a chance to get to know what a given artist’s practice might be. Through inquiry, we are offered a look at how other artists interrogate their own actions in relationship to the work they are making.
Twenty questions to approach a socially engaged project.
What questions does a project ask about society?
Why is this work important now?
Does it come out of an issue that I’m thinking about already?
How does it engage me as an artist?
Can I approach it in a way that is new for me?
Who are my partners/collaborators?
What is the design of the collaboration?
How does it include the vision of the collaborators?
Part Two—In the Middle
Am I able to be open to what’s happening?
Can I be flexible enough to change my vision?
Can I bring the collaborators into my vision so we can agree on how to make the most powerful work?
What do we think is the best way to reach our audience?
What do we want to say?
Part Three—Looking at what we have
How has the process of making the work changed how I see the outcome?
How will it affect the final product?
Who is the audience? (I ask this question all the way through.)
Is it important that the process be included in the piece to reach them?
What form should it take?
What further work do we need to do to engage the audience?
Is the work respectful to the audience, collaborators and my initial idea?
You can find more information about Wendy’s work here.
The Social Forms of Art (SoFA) Journal is a publication dedicated to supporting, documenting and contextualising social forms of art and its related fields and disciplines. Each issue of the Journal takes an eclectic look at the ways in which artists are engaging with communities, institutions and the public. The Journal supports and discusses projects that offer critique, commentary and context for a field that is active and expanding.
Created within the Portland State University Art & Social Practice Masters In Fine Arts. Program, SoFA Journal is now fully online.
Conversations on Everything is an expanding collection of interviews produced as part of SoFA Journal. Through the potent format of casual interviews as artistic research, insight is harvested from artists, curators, people of other fields and everyday humans. These conversations study social forms of art as a field that lives between and within both art and life.
Sponsored by the Portland State University Art and Social Practice MFA Program