From: S. Lacy Leaving Art: Writings on Performance, Politics, and Publics, 1974–2007
The question of the role of artist as well as role of art in people’s lives emerged in my head right after coming to the UK and researching the local contemporary art scene. Actually it emerged from shock experienced after discovering so much object oriented, conceptual art with not much political or social context. Something complete opposite to the art I was exposed to and educated about back home.
A very convincing explanation of this phenomena is given by Piotr Piotrowski, who in his book on public art in postcommunist Europe (Agorafilia- sztuka i demokracja w postkomunistycznej Europie /Agoraphili- art and democracy in post-communist Europe) quotes conclusions made by Hans Belting. German art historian claims, that this different approaches of art arised from different political situations in Western and Eastern Europe after WW2. While in Western Europe dominated rather broad political consensus, East being at a time under communist regime was troubled by political and social disturbances. Thus there was a certain demand for the artists to play an active role in shaping local public debate. Social engagement was therefore unavoidable.
On the other hand, Western Europe started to build its after war artistic identity basing on foundations of Documenta. In vast majority politically indifferent, strongly conceptual art well funded by various institutions and galleries was far from the reality in the other side of the iron curtain.
The issue interested me so much, that I decided to dedicate it my 4th year dissertation, which specifically explored the importance of critical art today, By critical I mean confrontational, metaphoric art commenting in social and political issues wich focuses not on the object but meanings and issues it is talking about. This critical perspective is something I would like to implement in my firther practice.