Art + Life

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Playing the City is, amongst all else it may be, an exhibition about art. Whilst its press release begins by asking a series of questions that would not be out of place in a sociology text – “How does the public participate in political dialogue? What constitutes public opinion? What do people understand “public space” to mean?” – it quickly follows these with statements that appear to assert its main concern - “The significance of the social plays a central role in the discourse on art. Concepts such as participation, collaboration, the social turn, and community-based art have clearly influenced both the production and the reception of art.” Art jargon persists throughout the release. The event itself is called an ‘exhibition’, and the activities that are to take place are given labels like ‘installations’ and ‘performances’.

From this we could venture that its main concern is in exploring the ways in which art and life can come together, a remit that appears to be not too dissimilar from that of Fluxus or the S.I.; initiatives in which creativity was viewed as a vital aspect of a rounded existence. Art was, for them, a door to creativity, as well as a method to promote mindfulness and spontaneous action: it was, in essence, a form through which to realize a mode of living. Whilst these movements have been affiliated with the art-world (their proponents labeled ‘artists’ and written about in ‘art-history’), it is worth remembering that creativity need not be confined to this domain, something that Winnicott sought to remind us of with his distinction between creative living and artistic creation.

There appears to be a contradiction at the heart of Playing the City, in that it claims to be about the unification of art and life (creative living) and yet, in the way that it talks about itself, risks being the opposite. It seems to confuse creative living with artistic creation. Through constantly referring to ‘art’ and classifying certain actions as art-actions (‘exhibition’, ‘installation’, ‘performance’) it draws distinctions, and in so doing allows these actions to be separated from ‘life’.


- Contents
< THE USE OF 'ART'
> Art as In-between

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