What makes the field of social practice dynamic and compelling is the vastly different themes people bring to the work. Within our cohort of 15, no two practices look the same. Because our medium is the constantly shifting public, the ways our work manifests are always changing. We respond to relationships and social contexts and we all respond differently. This is what makes the field exciting; the ability to engage with and learn from so many different ways of making. In this issue of SoFA Journal, our interviews reach across a variety of subjects. Olivia DelGandio gives us an inside view of the Art and Social Practice Archive at PSU, Marissa Perez talks to Ruth Eddy about what it really means to interview someone, and Morgan Hornsby interviews photographer, Wendy Ewald, about rural life and art. Each interview shows us just how fluid social practice can be.
As Becca Kauffman says of their interviewee, “Jeremy Deller knows the essential ingredient for making the kind of work you can see yourself in: he looks to what people care about.” We, as social practice artists, are often looking outward to the social sphere instead of inward for inspiration. Because we work in this way, each project turns into something new and different. As Wendy Ewald says, “I’ve learned to look and listen, and to understand that I have preconceptions always, and to learn to let them go or be transformed by the situation.” From looking and listening, we move towards making.
Just like we garner information from artists we’re influenced by, we also look towards the people we’re to closest for inspiration. You can see this reflected in Caryn Aasness’s interview with their mom and in Gilian Rappaport’s inclusion of their collaborator’s response to their initial interview. As social practice artists, we see the world and our art through the lens of these relationships.
In exploring these relationships and influences, we’ve put together an exciting batch of interviews for this issue. If you want to know more about Vietnamese memes, making molasses in Kentucky, or why Nina Katchadourian is interested in writing her own wall labels, you’re just like us, and lucky for you, we asked the right questions so you can read all about it here.
Olivia DelGandio, Caryn Aasness, and Luz Blumenfeld
(with Becca Kauffman and Morgan Hornsby)
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