Coinciding with the annual meeting of the College Art Association in Los Angeles, The Arts Research Center at UC Berkeley is hosting the offsite working session “Making Time at Human Resources” on February 22, 2012. Participants have been invited to post some brief thoughts on the topic in advance of the event. This guest posting is by Aandrea Stang, Senior Education Program Manager at MOCA.
Since 2008 I have been working with a team of colleagues at The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (MOCA) to design and organize the museum’s performative/social practice program, Engagement Party. Engagement Party’s statement is below:
Engagement Party offers Southern California–based artist collectives and collaborators an opportunity to make new artworks, interacting with and exploring MOCA and its resources in unexpected ways. Invited to work on site for three months, the artists may employ any medium, discipline, or strategy to create performances, workshops, screenings, lectures, or any other activity emerging from the group’s particular focus. Through Engagement Party, MOCA challenges the conventions of the museum as a collecting institution by providing a platform for artist collectives who create socially based works. Consistent with MOCA’s mission statement, Engagement Party aims to identify and support the most significant and challenging art of its time.
Over the program’s three and a half year life we have worked with twelve amazing mostly artists collectives from (again) mostly Southern California. During the three months they work on site, they are asked to create three discrete event-based art works. As the museum’s oversight committee begins to think about Engagement Party’s next phase and contemplate what the program could ideally be, we have been asking a lot of questions about social practice at MOCA and at large. Many of the questions have been specific to the museum but we have also tried to think on a broader scale.
Some of the questions in no particular order:
· How do institutions provide artists with adequate support while balancing their other programmatic offerings? How to best realize these projects when the museum does not have systems for the messiness of work that includes both artists and audience?
· Do the artists working with the institution feel well supported and how can we best work with them to their best advantage?
· Have the artists working within the museum made the work they wanted to make? Is a museum the right space for social practice?
· How has MOCA refined its notion of social practice to move beyond the larger event-based works to consider artists working in other aspects of the genre?
· How does a museum-based social practice program remain relevant?