The Live In Public: The Art of Engagement conference hosted by grunt gallery in October of 2008 was an inventory of practice and definitions of those practices as they related to socially engaged art. This website is a continuation of those conversations begun at the conference. Exploring the Roles, Risks, Breakthroughs and Expectations of the work of artists in communities through four panels over four days with four artists per panel and over 150 participating artists engaged in conversation and critique, the conference sought to bring artist practitioners together to carve out divergent meanings from our diverse work.
Powerful questions, points of criticism, ethics and morals are engaged when we talk about how we work with communities, where we come from in entering a relationship with a community, who has the power and privilege in these relationships, and how we mitigate or try to alter the social systems that are constructed within communities and systemically in our society…
Perhaps it is as simple as practicing like the birds before dawn. At this conference, we practiced; in our work and artistic fields we practice from project to project, learning from mistakes and trying new approaches so that we may create a symphony of songs the next new day. It is the role of the artist in engaged arts practice to be a part of the process, as the bird's song is a part of the dawn.
We acknowledge the financial support of the Government of Canada
through the Department of Heritage Canada Interactive Fund