Grizedale Arts

Grizedale Arts Blog

Thursday 8 November '12
(from Grizedale Arts Blog)

The Criteria of Art Util

Tania and Fernando table talk

We had a recent visit here from useful artist Tania Bruguera who is working on a Museum of Useful Art for the Van Abbe Museum in October next year, part of the project The Uses of Art: the Legacy of 1848 and 1989 we have been developing with the Internationale group of European museums. We spent the weekend with Nick Aikens, a ginger curator of the Van Abbe Museum, refining the criteria of Useful Art or Art Util as she prefers to call it. Whilst here we hooked her up with the Fernando Garcia Dory, awarded last month with $25,000 and the gong for The Leonore Annenberg Prize for Art and Social Change at the Creative Time Summit in New York. Fernando and Tania only ever communicate via Skype, the preferred medium of purposeful artists. Here you see them head to head in a feed back loop of social engagement. Fernando is currently working in London on Now I Gotta Reason, go use him.

To be arte útil it should:

1- Propose new uses for art within society

2- Challenge the field within which it operates (civic, legislative, pedagogical, scientific, economic etc)

3- Be ‘timing specific’, responding to the urgencies of the moment

4- Be implemented in the real and actually work!

5- Replace authors with initiators and spectators with users

6- Have practical, beneficial outcomes for its users

7- Pursue sustainability whilst adapting to changing conditions

8- Re-establish aesthetics as an ecosystem of transformative fields

4 Comments

Example of an earlier call for useful art and reorientation from Ken Garland... (excerpt from Wikipedia:)

In November 1963 Garland authored the First Things First manifesto which advocated "in favour of the more useful and more lasting forms of communication" over the increasing overuse of design talent in advertising.

...we have reached a saturation point at which the high pitched scream of consumer selling is no more than sheer noise. We think that there are other things more worth using our skill and experience on. There are signs for streets and buildings, books and periodicals, catalogues, instructional manuals, industrial photography, educational aids, films, television features, scientific and industrial publications and all the other media through which we promote our trade, our education, our culture and our greater awareness of the world. ..."
—Ken Garland, First Things First, 1964.
The manifesto was signed by 21 others. In January 1964, the manifesto was reprinted by Tony Benn in his column in The Guardian. As a result, Garland was invited onto the BBC to read a section of the manifesto. The manifesto was subsequently reprinted by many design publications in Britain and later internationally.


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