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Living as Form: Socially Engaged Art from 1991-2011 [Hardcover]

Nato Thompson

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Book Description

Feb. 17 2012

Over the past twenty years, an abundance of art forms have emerged that use aesthetics to affect social dynamics. These works are often produced by collectives or come out of a community context; they emphasize participation, dialogue, and action, and appear in situations ranging from theater to activism to urban planning to visual art to health care. Engaged with the texture of living, these art works often blur the line between art and life. This book offers the first global portrait of a complex and exciting mode of cultural production--one that has virtually redefined contemporary art practice. Living as Form grew out of a major exhibition at Creative Time in New York City. Like the exhibition, the book is a landmark survey of more than 100 projects selected by a thirty-person curatorial advisory team; each project is documented by a selection of color images. The artists include the Danish collective Superflex, who empower communities to challenge corporate interest; Turner Prize nominee Jeremy Deller, creator of socially and politically charged performance works; Women on Waves, who provide abortion services and information to women in regions where the procedure is illegal; and Santiágo Cirugeda, an architect who builds temporary structures to solve housing problems.

Living as Form contains commissioned essays from noted critics and theorists who look at this phenomenon from a global perspective and broaden the range of what constitutes this form.

Contributing authorsClaire Bishop, Carol Becker, Teddy Cruz, Brian Holmes, Shannon Jackson, Maria Lind, Anne Pasternak, Nato Thompson

Frequently Bought Together

Living as Form: Socially Engaged Art from 1991-2011 + Artificial Hells: Participatory Art and the Politics of Spectatorship + Education for Socially Engaged Art: A Materials and Techniques Handbook
Price For All Three: CDN$ 56.65

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 264 pages
  • Publisher: The MIT Press (Feb. 17 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0262017342
  • ISBN-13: 978-0262017343
  • Product Dimensions: 26 x 19.7 x 3.3 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 Kg
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #86,428 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

About the Author

Nato Thompson is Chief Curator at the New York--based public arts institution Creative Time. He edited The Interventionists: Users' Manual for the Creative Disruption of Everyday Life and Becoming Animal (both published by the MIT Press) and curated the MASS MoCA exhibitions they accompanied.

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Amazon.com: 4.9 out of 5 stars  9 reviews
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars worthwhile April 18 2013
By t3p - Published on Amazon.com
Useful and inspiring: the 150+ pages of descriptions of projects by 100+ artists/organizations (including such as Ai Weiwei and Vic Muniz) exploring new ways of social engagement. Nicely done. The exploratory, thought-provoking, and knocking-down-walls aspect is enhanced by the inclusion of some entities/projects which would not normally even be thought of as "artistic" in nature.

Possibly less useful for some readers: the approx 70 pages of essays, which contain a lot of rarefied and politicized art-crit-speak ("We need to move beyond the abstraction of the 'global' in order to engage with the particularities of the political inscribed within local geographies of conflict. It is within this specificity where contemporary artistic practice needs to reposition itself in order to expose the particularity of hidden institutional histories, revealing the missing information that can allow us to piece together a more accurate anticipatory urban research and intervention."
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another Impactful Project by Creative Time's Nato Thompson May 2 2012
By Anonymous - Published on Amazon.com
This book is an awe-inspiring account of artists and activists who engage in community based projects through a broad range of approaches and perspectives around the world. Nato Thompson examines the role of community-based art in a world where art is viewed as a commodity rather than a vehicle for social change. The projects in this book strive to reach a broader public and ultimately strive to impact the lives of more people than ever before. Living as Form pushes our understanding of the power of art and its potential.

"The projects in Living as Form expose the numerous lines of tension which have surfaced in socially engaged art in the past twenty years, essentially shaking up foundations of art discourse, and sharing techniques and intentions with fields far beyond the arts. Unlike its avant-garde predecessors such as Russian Constructivism, Futurism, Situationism, Tropicalia, Happenings, Fluxus, and Dadaism, socially engaged art is not an art movement. Rather, these cultural practices indicate a new social order--ways of life that emphasize participation, challenge power, and span disciplines ranging from urban planning and community work to theater and the visual arts."
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Living as Form is a must-read May 8 2012
By Anonymous - Published on Amazon.com
Living as Form is a great resource for anyone who wants to know more about the history of socially engaged art. With contributions from art world giants like Claire Bishop and Maria Lind along with essays by Creative Time Director, Anne Pasternak and Chief Curator, Nato Thompson, the book covers a huge range of iconic projects and gives critical insight into the field. Whether you saw Creative Time's landmark exhibition, Living as Form, last fall and want to know more about the artists and their practice or you weren't able to make it and are curious to see the work for the first time, this book is informative and engaging. A lot of the photo documentation in the book is difficult to find elsewhere and it's amazing to see images from such a huge range of projects. I highly recommend checking it out.
5.0 out of 5 stars complete coverage Feb. 9 2014
By Anthony Carrier - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I attended this exhibition for the full 2 weeks. Nato Thompson's grasp of this material is complete. The show was brilliant. This book is essential reading for anyone interested in this most important work we call Social Practice.
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic book June 6 2013
By Paige Schneider - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This is an extremely unique and informative book on an increasingly important part of visual culture--socially engaged art movement. Great images and interesting vignettes about the artists and their work. Highly recommend.

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