[-empyre-] Welcome to May on EMPYRE: Social Practice and Social Reproduction

kyle mckinley bicirider at gmail.com
Mon May 2 13:17:00 AEST 2016


Welcome to May, 2016 on –empyre soft-skinned space:

Social Practice and Social Reproduction: the politics of participatory art
Moderated by Kyle Lane-McKinley (US) with invited discussants

May 1 to 7th Week 1:  Dont Rhine,  Cara Baldwin
May 8th to 14th Week 2: Erin McElroy, Macon Reed, Miguel Elizalde
May 15th to 21st Week 3: Margaretha Haughwout, Margaret Rhee
May 22nd to 31tst Week 4: Michaela Leslie-Rule, Corrina Mehiel

Happy May Day everyone! And welcome to the May discussion. “Social
Practice” has emerged as a useful, if contested, term to describe a variety
of contemporary art practices which situate the audience as the medium or
site of creativity. Pulling on tendencies within installation and
performance art, anthropology, and anti-hierarchical political movements,
among others, social practice sits alongside threads of new media
production as inheritors of 20th century avant-garde experimentalism. At
the same time, social practice has met with various criticisms: as a fad,
a-political, utopian, white, erasing past efforts, and more.

In this month’s discussion we aim to interrogate what is meant by “social
practice,” what the political efficacy of such practices might be, and what
the responsibilities of various actors and institutions involved might be
to one another. As the title for the discussion suggests, I am particularly
invested in thinking through the relationship between socially practiced
art and social reproduction, by which I mean the body of radical feminist
thought that has roots in the Italian “Wages for Housework” movement of the
1970s. Theories of social reproduction are particularly applicable to the
task of thinking through the problems of socially practiced on two fronts:
they highlight questions of whose work is valorized as work (and whose goes
unwaged) and they provide a framework for politicizing the embodied
experience of previously naturalized (and invisible) labors.

It is all but meaningless to discuss the politics of social practice as an
abstract proposition. Rather, that section of our discussion will take up
examples of socially practiced artworks created in response to the crisis
of housing, gentrification, and neo-colonialism. Living in California, as I
do, this subject is always on the tip of every tongue, but it is
increasingly clear that the phenomenon is global, if unevenly distributed.
Thinking about gentrification and social practice is itself a bifurcated
proposition which entails critically examining the complicity of artists
and arts institutions in displacement while also taking seriously the idea
that arts practice can meaningfully combat the seeming inevitability of

Finally, the issues of gentrification and social practice lead to the
inevitable questions of funding and of the particular needs that arts
practitioners have for space(s). These questions point us to the rich
history of critical spatial practice that Empyre represents on the one
hand, and to tactical considerations for interfacing with institutions on
the other.

I am honored to have been asked to help facilitate this urgent set of
themes, and look forward to watching what emerges from this conversation
and beyond.

in solidarity,

<empyre at lists.artdesign.unsw.edu.au>




Moderators: Kyle Lane-McKinley is an artist and an educator in Santa Cruz,
California, where he lives with his partner Madeline Lane-McKinley, and
their daughter Tuli. Kyle completed an MFA in Digital Art and New Media at
UC Santa Cruz in 2010, where he continues to work as a lecturer, research
associate, and as associate-director of the Social Practice Arts Research
Center (SPARC at UCSC). Kyle's pedagogy is informed by his background in
worker collectives, popular education projects, and grassroots social
movements. His research interests include theories of representation and
reification, critical spatial practice, revolutionary feminism, speculative
futurism, and counter-cultural history.

Weekly Guests:

Dont Rhine (US) is a sound artist and popular educator. He co-founded the
international sound art collective Ultra-red in 1994. For over twenty years
Rhine has contributed to the collective’s many sound-based investigations,
using sound as both medium and site of inquiry in relation to social
justice organizing and political education. He is a volunteer community
health educator with the needle-exchange program, L.A. Community Health
Project (formerly Clean Needles Now), which he co-founded in 1992 while a
member of the Los Angeles chapter of ACT UP (AIDS Coalition to Unleash
Power). Dont attended the Whitney Independent Study Program in 1994-95 and
in 2006 received his MFA from UCLA in Interdisciplinary Studio with artist,
Mary Kelly. He is faculty co-chair of the low-residency visual art program
at Vermont College of Fine Arts where he has taught part-time since 2007.
Dont co-facilitates the Los Angeles branch of Ultra-red’s mentorship
program, School of Echoes, and is co-founder and organizer in the L.A.
Tenants Union. He lives in Hollywood.

Cara Michelle Carter (US) is a cultural producer,  critic and consumer
living in Santa Cruz. She is a founding member of the Journal of Aesthetics
& Protest and a PhD candidate in the University of California,  San Diego
Visual Art,  History,  Theory and Criticism with an emphasis on collective
social practices in the expanded field.

Miguel Elizalde (Spain / US) is a Spanish artist and educator living in
Winona, Minnesota. Words were his first tool, later was video and nowadays
is space & sound. Nowadays, most of his work is about the presence of
infrasound in public spaces, however, I continue using any of those three
tools depending of the project.
He also has 20 years of experience creating commercial communication
campaigns for all type of brands and companies. At this time, he holds the
position of Assistant Professor of Transmedia at Winona State University.

Erin McElroy (US) cofounded/directs the Anti-Eviction Mapping Project - a
data visualization, data analysis, and oral history collective documenting
the dispossession and resistance of Bay Area residents in the wake of the
Tech Boom 2.0. As a doctoral candidate in Feminist Studies at UC Santa
Cruz, Erin engages postsocialist analytics and critical race and ethnicity
studies to study tech-induced racialized dispossession in the Silicon
Valley region and in Romania. Erin holds a MA in Cultural Anthropology, is
a scholar with the “Oakland School” of Urban Studies, and is an active
organizer with the mutual aid collective Eviction Free San Francisco.

Macon Reed (US) is a multi-disciplinary artist, whose works probe the
notion of optimism through queer and feminist lens, examining the lines
between transformation and failure, trauma and healing, playfulness and
escapism. Drawing on rituals of normative enculturation with regard to team
socialization and competition, her work interrogates the limits of optimism
and the point(s) at which cheerfulness becomes self-destructive, with a
specific interest in physical performance and sculpture.

Margaretha Haughwout's (US) personal and collaborative practice operates at
the intersections of technology and wilderness in the interest of imagining
the possibilities for human and ecological survival. Her “practice of
survival” works across many media, often complicating the division between
the technological and the natural. Margaretha engages and resists legacies
found in conceptual art, socially engaged art, and biological art to think
about work that connects to biological systems and that reaches beyond
scarcity models for existence. She works collaboratively with the Guerrilla
Grafters, the Coastal Reading Group and Hayes Valley Farm. She is a senior
lecturer at California College of the Arts and holds an MFA from the
University of California Santa Cruz.

Corrina Mehiel (US) is an artist / art professor, with a background in
community arts education.  An adjunct professor at the Art Academy of
Cincinnati, Mehiel teaches social practice and studio inquiry in the BFA
and MAAE programs.  She holds a BA from The Pennsylvania State University
and an MFA from the University of Cincinnati.   With roots in Seattle,
Washington and Central Pennsylvania, Mehiel identifies as an American more
than from a particular city or state.  She spent the greater part of the
last decade abroad, living in India, Australia and Dubai.  Currently a
studio assistant for the social practice pioneer Mel Chin, Mehiel is a
collaborator for his Fundred Dollar Bill Project which aims to educate
children and families to make a lead safe environment for all.  In addition
to teaching, maintaining a studio practice and collaborating on socially
engaged projects, Mehiel is a graduate student in the Public Policy program
at Portland State University, with research on policy shaping through
artistic and civic engagement.

Michaela Leslie-Rule (US), MPA, MPH is an artist and social scientist. As
the owner of Fact Memory Testimony <http://factmemorytestimony.com>, she
has been fortunate to collaborate with ITVS’ Women & Girls Lead Global,
Memphis is Music Initiative, Community Foundation for Monterey County, Nike
and Firelight Foundations’ Grassroots Girls Initiative. Embedded in
Leslie-Rule’s approach to advocacy, communication and strategy, is a
commitment to elevating community voices through the use of storytelling.
She is particularly interested in participatory methods for measuring and
documenting social and organizational change, and has designed and
implemented participatory evaluation, strategic planning and documentation
projects on four continents. Leslie-Rule also uses a storytelling approach
to design and produce multimedia advocacy campaigns. As the producer of
Global Fund for Women’s IGNITE: Women Fueling Science and Technology global
campaign and online storytelling project, she curated and oversaw the
creation of five online galleries, designed and implemented a five-city
international girls’ hackathon and oversaw a coordinated advocacy effort
between the Fund and UN Women demanding equal access to and control of
technology for women and girls worldwide.
Leslie-Rule holds Masters of Public Health and Public Administration from
the University of Washington with a focus on advocacy and multimedia
storytelling in global health. She also earned a BFA from New York
University’s Tisch School of the Arts. You can learn more about
Leslie-Rule’s approach and see samples of her work at

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