Belonging & distance : the dance between sociology, activated art works and politics as project

Jarvis, Beatrice (2014) Belonging & distance : the dance between sociology, activated art works and politics as project. In: Loder, Dave, (ed.) Skin of the goat : a type of cook book. Ireland : University of Ulster & The National College of Art and Design. pp. 92 -105. ISBN 9781859232620


How do we relate food to sociological process and how do we structure our social exchanges to become a sociological resource? This article will explore how far my engagement with Robin Kahn’s work allowed the project to becomes means to investigate relations between sociology and art practice. Reinvestigating the encounters, dialogs, and exchanges which occurred in the setting of the tent; seeking to explore how food centered activity can generate new social dynamics. This text shall frame interventions and processes which occurred inside the framework of Kahn’s work to critically explore the complex relationship between generating practice-based research and sociological research data using speech, food and movement as stimulus. Through the further deconstruction of the engagement process; these pages will discuss the sociological function of the arts to act as a mechanism to cultivate particular stands of social value and hence become socially ‘useful’ products. Yet, as this text raises the issue; can such social usefulness can mean that the actual artwork itself becomes a secondary concern, which may contradictory to the intentions of the maker. How might a project of this nature define ‘ usefulness’ and can the use of such term hinder the experience of the project as a work of art? Addressing the following questions; this text will suggest contextually relevant responses to the following questions: • How far can creative practices serve as a method of socio-political communication? • Can various processes of knowledge transfer develop tangible works of art in themselves? How might we document this? • How far can socially engaged practices allow subsequent audiences to develop modes of cultural understanding? • How can multidisciplinary arts practices and site projects formulate a sociological knowledge base, which can be used as source material for subsequent application beyond the boundaries of the arts? • How can social and ecological engagement within creative practices stabilize the position of the arts as a tool for cultural understanding, which also function in an economically viable fashion? • How can the socially engaged schema of intentionality by which an artist has created their object (material/embodied/ephemeral) be fully determined by the receiver? How do concepts of social sculpture become fully embodied with both ideology and practice? What are the potential gaps, which may appear in this dialog between process and product? Exploring food as a gift; as expectation; as uncertainty; as project; as reflection or simply as free food; or as symbolic gesture; these questions shall deconstruct the role of the artist as social catalyst in the complex setting of a global art fair. The paper plates were stemming hot and the sun blistering; we sat; quiet; sharing. At times it seemed that we knew not the full extent as to what we shared; yet months later, we found ourselves speaking of another; an encounter; brief, an encounter poignant. A fleeting exchange with the known and the unknown; short lived, perplexing; engaging, demanding and a sign of hope.

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