The past two decades have seen a surge in work that crosses the boundaries between art and social activism, in which both artists and non-artists work collaboratively towards a shared goal over an extended period of time. Their efforts may or may not yield an identifiable art object. They usually take place outside established art spaces such as museums or galleries. Yet such work has become one of the most hotly debated topics in art criticism. Documentation of socially engaged projects appears regularly in museums and biennales, and educational programs exist at a number of universities.
Japan has seen a massive shift towards socially engaged art in terms of both practice and art policy. Art increasingly finds a place in rebuilding struggling communities, helping disadvantaged populations, and connecting people with local history and culture. The symposium Socially Engaged Art in Japan explores how to understand the field of practice in a global context and how Japan’s experience can inform that understanding.
Photo: The Lighthouses - 3.11 Project by Tsubasa Kato (all rights reserved). Lighthouse raising at Iwaki, Fukushima Prefecture, after the 2011 earthquake and tsunami. Photo by Kei Miyajima.