Jill Magid
Gerald Raunig
Stephen Hobbs
Dr Achille Mbembe
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24 february 2006


From: "Ed Young"

Subject: Re: hi
Date: Fri, 24 Feb 2006 13:57:29 +0200
To: social-engagement@googlegroups.com

Hi just a short news flash in response to something Fernanda said
about the museums in the park closing the park door on sundays when
admition is free. We also have a big park in Cape Town, South Africa,
which is the location for a couple of museums and our national gallery.

Last Saturday (free admition day), Laura Wiens, an American intern at
a local radio station was stabbed in the head and neck inside the
South African museum, while viewing some objects on display. She
reckoned she would have been killed if she had been in a smaller room
in the museum.

Have a nice weekend all...

Ed Young


Date: Fri, 24 Feb 2006 06:55:46 -0800 (PST)
From: "gregg smith"
Subject: Re: so far 2
To: social-engagement@googlegroups.com

Hi Adam,

sorry to delay responding to your response. I think 'enchantment' is one device artists can use to open gaps in lived experience which reframe what is happening or allow new perceptions of a time/space continuum. there are many devices which artists use to expand the presence of the viewers imagination or intuition in the process of viewing, experiencing art and life and becoming personally implicated in what is happening. desire is also a very strong medium.

i found another device is to delay as long as possible the realisation for the 'spectator' that this is 'art'. or at least that, if they know that this is art, that it then becomes a question of which parts of this event are scripted and which are not. i think this has some reference to this idea of 'expanding the boundary.'

as an aside, i took part in a role playing game for the first time the other night and i found most captivating in the game, the parts when i couldn't tell which aspects of the narrative being told by players where improvised, and which were taken directly from their character descriptions and scripts.

in Achille Mbembe's presentation, he talked about the problem where 'radical art and radical politics have lost their power to reanimate what we would call the project of emancipation'. i think art continues to have value in its different forms and contexts, but that it can also benefit from losing its frame as art from time to time, and merging for brief periods with ordinary experience. the problem for this kind of work is how to create a focus at some stage, without simply being dramatic, how to create something which is banal and merges fairly seemlessly with lived experience, but has meaning or inner reverberations and consequences for the 'viewer'.



From: "Jill Magid"
Subject: Re: so far 2
Date: Fri, 24 Feb 2006 17:28:55 -0500
To: social-engagement@googlegroups.com

Hello from Jill Magid- sorry to have jumped into the game later than I
would have liked to.
I have been following the emails thus far, and like Gregg, I too was
caught on the word enchantment
that Adam brought up.

Hmm, the issue of enchantment...

As I have understood it, enchantment is a result rather than a device.
Enchantment is what happens when
the imaginary or the phantasy somehow begins to take over- or grow
forth- from reality. I think it is fair to say that this is the moment
I long for, and that all the research I do that is 'socially engaged'
is to get to this point, where enchantment
takes over. I think Gregg is referring to this moment as well.

Adam brings up the quotes of "let the world happen as fluid form"...
AND... "to be implicated in ones own narrative..." as being somewhat at
Perhaps this is rather a linear experience: One begins following along
as things are happening (observation), then steps inside of the process
(engagement), gets lost, and at a certain moment becomes self-conscious
again. By self conscious I mean finding a kind of recognition of
oneself, in this new position (after having gone through a process).

A few entries have discussed the idea of intimacy. For example,
Jeannine Diego Medina's text wrote about the danger of engaging in
practices "via the utilization of the social as a stage, a scenario, a
landscape" in that once doing so, it is possible to fall prey to "an
exploitative use of the 'marginal'
taking it to the plane of the aesthetic, yet disengaged, in actual
fact, from the 'problem' itself..." and that this kind of practice can
lead to distancing. I agree that this
can happen, when a 'problem' is lifted out of the social as a kind of
banner or empty referent, but I also think there is a valuable strategy
in here as well.

Taking the social as a kind of stage or scenario or landscape can be a
way to see it fresh, as a kind of phantasy or game. When reality is
understood momentarily as a stage or game,
the artist can become, respectively, an actor or a player: In doing so,
the Law changes, from Law to Rules of a game. Unlike the law, rules are
arbitrary. we can assign our
own meanings to them; they need not make sense outside of the game. As
artists, we set the rules. In a parallel field such as this, the same
structures are present but the
consequences are different, as well as the causes and effects. Somehow
this distancing can enable creativity, to play the world and the social
another way. In this situation, intimacies and understandings between
people can emerge that would not make sense or even be permissible if
reality was not being distanced,
or played in this 'other' game.
I am not referring here to the carnivalesque, which is more of a total
upheaval or reversal of roles, for a moment, in the social realm. I am
about a much more subtle shift. This shift appears to me as closely
related to the 'expanded boundary' Gregg mentions.

As for the communication of this process, I find it sometimes difficult
how to move from a social engagement (which is experienced)
to a work that is legible for the viewer-- as a work of art. Especially
when the whole process (the game, the rules, the moves, etc) is part of
What is left are traces, and sometimes they are not visible.
In my own work there is the story to recount. Yet, I am often not
satisfied with the story itself as the medium. I wonder how other
artists working in this manner deal with this.
How do you communicate your process or actions? Is the enchantment of
the work in the experience of following the process,
or can it be distilled in the traces? or do the traces become something
else (without falling victim to becoming illustrations?).

On an end note to this rumination-out-loud (i do have a fever now so
excuse me if this is a dream-like entry) I do think that having an
effect on the real world, outside of the game/stage/landscape proposed,
comes from the viewer's desire to enter the parallel world
offered by the artist or the work. And of course the work must find a
way to construct the invitation.
This fantastic world within or parallel to the real world is not
actually separate from it, it is rather a tangent out from a seemingly
closed system. And there lies our enchantment...