the visual artist as a cultural agent

In Chapter 5- Artist As Theorist from Graeme Sullivan’s 2005 book Art Practice as Research: Inquiry in the Visual Arts.

The author starts by describing the artist’s work such as being expansive, creative and critical. He then subdivides the practice (concerning knowledge production) in Making in Systems, when related to structure and skills, Making in Communities, referring to negotiating and communicating meaning, and Making in Culture, when it focuses on challenging perception and prompting new ways of thinking.
Sullivan explores the expansive potentiality inherent in a digital era concerning these 3 areas, and points out the change that the artist’s role has developed in society. He says ¨The image of the artist as creator, critic, theorist, teacher, activist, archivist partly captures the range of art practice today¨, as he emphasizes the many functions of the visual artist in contemporary culture. And it is precisely this point that makes the text valuable to me, because it stands on the believe that artists (and their reflective path), when meeting their personal view with the public voice, can bring insight to the way human beings understand and deal with the world. Thus, it seems to me a result of adaptation, that in the current visual environment, the role of the visual artist has shifted, and has also become more that of the role of a cultural agent.

Because my practice is founded in poetry, I have come a long way dealing with images (as metaphors), but it was not until a couple of years ago (maybe sensing the need to communicate), that I decided to materialize them, and so have shifted into the visual arts to continue my practice. In this way, the need of Making in Communities has influenced my Making in System practice. As for Making in Culture, I believe that it is in the visual and textual content of my play, where I intend to exhort the audience: LiLITH’S TRIAL is a play about otherness and what it offers (hopefully) is a new ‘apprehension’ to the way we articulate with reality.

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2 Responses to the visual artist as a cultural agent

  1. cinzia1 says:

    Lili, I would have thought that your way of working fits better under the definition of ‘Making in Culture’. I feel that you are trying to propose a very personal view that also has value for others. I cannot really see the dymensions of the other two categories in your play. Perhaps in your previous practice, or in your way of working.
    A question: do you think that Sullivan sees artists/researchers/cultural agents as operating in all these three categories, or predominantly in one of them?

  2. liligrana says:

    I believe that some artists focus on their own inspiration with out really knowing what their operation era is. Maybe in reality the boundaries of Sullivan´s diagram are also blurred, and it is not so clear that one interacts only in one level without touching the other. As you and I have stated, we have the sense our practice operates in the 3 categories, but also admit we are more engaged with Making in Culture. You see, I would have thought that Making in Communities is also very much your ambit when you participate with a group of other artists in Critical Practice.

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