The Third Paradise presented by Cittadellarte – Fondazione Pistoletto

I love Italian Arte Povera artist Michelangelo Pistoletto’s screenprints on mirror-polish steel.

I also really enjoyed theorist Claire Bishop’s book, Installation Art: A Critical Survey (Routledge, 2005).

While Pistoletto is well-known for his mirror pieces, he has also been creating Cittadelarte, a non-profit with numerous working groups re-imagining art, life, work and more. I’m not quite sure I understand what it is, as much as glean a sense of revolutionary possibility from it. I thought I’d visit if I ever make my way to Italy, but it turns out I don’t have to go there to participate. See below for a worldwide Cittadelarte participatory program coming this December.

Bishop, on the other hand, is no fan of participatory art, and is in fact launching her latest book, Artificial Hells, at CUNY’s Martin E. Segal Theater tomorrow night.

Hold these opposing thoughts in your mind, if you can:

June 26, 2012, 6:30–7:30pm
Artificial Hells Book Launch
Martin E. Segal Theatre, 365 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10016

A searing critique of participatory art by an iconoclastic historian

Join art historian Claire Bishop and Carrie Lambert-Beatty in conversation at the Martin E. Segal Theatre to celebrate the launch of Bishop’s new book, Artificial Hells: Participatory Art and the Politics of Spectatorship.

Since the 1990s, critics and curators have broadly accepted the notion that participatory art is the ultimate political art: that by encouraging an audience to take part an artist can promote new emancipatory social relations. Around the world, the champions of this form of expression are numerous, ranging from art historians such as Grant Kester, curators such as Nicolas Bourriaud and Nato Thompson, to performance theorists such as Shannon Jackson.

Artificial Hells is the first historical and theoretical overview of socially engaged participatory art, known in the US as “social practice.” Claire Bishop follows the trajectory of twentieth-century art and examines key moments in the development of a participatory aesthetic. This itinerary takes in Futurism and Dada; the Situationist International; Happenings in Eastern Europe, Argentina and Paris; the 1970s Community Arts Movement; and the Artists Placement Group. It concludes with a discussion of long-term educational projects by contemporary artists such as Thomas Hirschhorn, Tania Bruguera, Paweł Althamer and Paul Chan.

Since her controversial essay in Artforum in 2006, Claire Bishop has been one of the few to challenge the political and aesthetic ambitions of participatory art. In Artificial Hells, she not only scrutinizes the emancipatory claims made for these projects, but also provides an alternative to the ethical (rather than artistic) criteria invited by such artworks. Artificial Hells calls for a less prescriptive approach to art and politics, and for more compelling, troubling and bolder forms of participatory art and criticism.

Via Art Agenda:

21 December 2012
Michelangelo Pistoletto

The Third Paradise

Rebirth-Day: the first worldwide day of rebirth
A great celebration throughout the world—a vital, living, breathing symbol of a new beginning.

December 21st, the winter solstice in the northern hemisphere and the summer soltice in the Southern, is a day celebrated by mankind since time immemorial.

A fateful “end of the world” connotation, as widespread as it is unfounded, has been attributed to this day in 2012, proposing a theme that is recurrent in mythologies and religions as well as in the literature of fantasy and science fiction.

All imaginative factors aside, this date can take on a symbolic meaning, as it effectively corresponds to a climactic phase of human history. We are progressing steadily toward an inevitable collapse—the science is there to prove it.

The whole of human society is now in the reckoning and so must face a historic transition, a complete change.

Humanity has gone through two paradises. The first, in which it integrated fully with nature; the second, in which it expanded into an artificial world of its own, which grew until it came into conflict with the natural world. It is time to begin the third stage, in which humanity will reconcile and unite nature and artifice, creating a new balance at every level and in every area of society: “an evolutionary step in which the human intelligence finds ways to live in harmony with the intelligence of nature” (Michelangelo Pistoletto).

A new perspective opens up that involves everyone, without exception, in the daily effort to implement the process of rebirth—each according to his or her abilities and possibilities.

On 21 December 2012, let us meet in streets and squares all over the world, and on the Web, to take part in the great inaugural celebration of the Third Paradise.

Participation in the Rebirth-day represents a personal commitment to the process of change….


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