13-15 April: CCA Glasgow's Social Intentions symposium explores the use of socially-engaged art practice within institutions

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Social Intentions is a symposium on the use of social engagement within art institutions.

CCA has invited pioneering institutions in this field from all over Europe to come together and share their practices. Since their socially engaged approach is relevant in the current development of contemporary culture, we will look at the benefits as well as the pitfalls of its uses when related to art institutions.

We shaped the symposium around three main components of socially engaged art practice which have impact and relevance when talking about institutional production: format, time and context.

We will explore different uses of format such us the open source programme, the hub, the laboratory, the art commission based organisation and the Biennale. It will be important to evaluate how these formats can relate to the use of process as well as participation and different ways of facilitating access to creative experiences. Thanks to the use of social engagement the 'passive' audience is turned into active participants and the format is no longer an 'outcome-focused' project, but rather is an outcome – an end product – in itself. Therefore the aim is to stimulate a cultural experience based on process rather than on event outcome. This different perception of time and place is experienced as a long-term and context embedded practice.

In the Introduction to her book 'Participation,' the scholar and curator Claire Bishop refers to this new approach as the 'social turn' in which the emphasis is now placed on temporal processes of engagement with people rather than on art as a product.

The use of time then becomes a core part of the use of these practices. This symposium will refer to time as 'durational' in response to Paul O'Neill and Claire Doherty's definition. They define durational as a series of 'processes to public art curating and commissioning [which] emerged as an alternative to nomadic, itinerant and short-termist approaches in recent years'. The durational proposed in this symposium is an open process, at some times more loose than at others, often a cyclical time of self-reflexivity without a predesignated end point.

Finally, we will consider ways in which these institutions engage with context. Often places are presented as fixed entities to which art practitioners are invited to respond with good idea(s). Geographer Doreen Massey offered an alternative approach to conceptualising geographical space, as 'a mutable location'. She saw it as a 'living experience,' a constellation of social relations, meeting and weaving together at a particular locus. A large proportion of those relations are constructed on a far larger scale than what we happen to define for that moment as the place itself, whether that be a street, or a region, or even a continent. Massey underlined the essence of space as a plurality of trajectories which coexist contemporaneously. She recognised the space as a constant work in progress, as the result of interrelations never static nor fixed, never finished. Space, in this sense, includes a complexity of aspects: history; politics; philosophy; social discourse; representation; community; culture; landscape etc. Those are relevant to the making and understanding of public art, site-specific projects and community projects.

The symposium will include workshops and brainstorming sessions as well as panel discussions, talks and presentations. The programme will aim to actively involve the people attending the symposium, the talks and all the activities will have a participatory component. The format of the symposium will be heterogeneous and versatile.

CCA's public engagement programme aims to widen access to our programme and encourage social and cultural change explored through art. For us this is a very important moment of transition. Our approach towards public and social engagement is very open and we would like to use this symposium to bring socially engaged institutions together to share different practices.

With Sanne Oorthuizen and Ying Que (CASCO), Viviana Checchia (CCA), Ainslie Roddick (CCA), Claudia Zeiske (Deveron Arts Centre), Emily Gee (FACT), Adam Sutherland (Grizedale), Andrea Phillips (Valand Academy, University of Gothenburg), Polly Brannan (Liverpool Biennial), Manuela Villa (Matadero), Marcos Garcia (Medialab – Prado), Alistair Hudson (Mima), Louise Shelley (Showroom), Claire Doherty (Situations), Harry Weeks (University of Edinburgh) and Lucy Brown (University of Strathclyde).


Wednesday 13 April
10.30am – 1.30pm: Social Intentions KETSO
3.30pm – 5pm: Panel on Format
Participants: Polly Brannan (Liverpool Biennial), Marcos Garcia (Medialab), Manuela Villa (Matadero). Chaired by Ainslie Roddick, Assistant Curator, CCA.

Thursday 14 April
10am – 10.30am: Intro notes
10.30am – 12noon: Panel on Duration
Participants: Sanne Oorthuizen and Ying Que (CASCO), Claire Doherty (Situations), Adam Sutherland (Grizedale). Chaired by Harry Weeks, IASH Postdoctoral Fellow, the University of Edinburgh
1pm – 2.30pm: Panel on Context
Participants: Louise Shelley (The Showroom), Claudia Zeiske (Deveron Arts), Emily Gee (FACT). Chaired by Lucy Brown, PhD Student, Scottish Oral History Centre, University of Strathclyde.
2.30pm – 4pm: Assembly/ plenary discussion

Friday 15 April
10am – 12.30pm: BarCamp
5pm – 8.30pm: Talk with Andrea Phillips on the Invisible Knowledge groups


Centre for Contemporary Arts, Glasgow
350 Sauchiehall Street
Glasgow, G2 3JD