Visual Artist

Maria Papacharalambous

Evi Tselika- ‘Common Reflections II’



Image still from a series of workshops for the elderly run by artist Mayia Hadjigeorgiou as part of Common Reflections ‘Trans-generation-alisms’, 2012.

The project Common Reflections that has been held at Ar­tos Cultural Foundation in Nicosia in 2011 and 2012 has presented a collective body of work that uses the response of art towards ethical and social matters. Whilst the first dealt with the concept of ‘parrhesia’ (speaking the truth) as suggested by Dr Niki Katsiaouni, the second directly dealt with issues concerning the third age.   Both were collectively built exhibitions which meant a multiplicity of voices that explored particular social issues and how artists and theorists interpret them and present them. Not all participants were professional artists and the second version of Common Reflections ‘Trans-generation-alisms’ included direct community participation as it involved university students as well as people of the third age. This project does not use artworks as instruments to create an overarching thematic state­ment but more as different interpretations of how art approaches the social and makes us question our behaviours within that social. The concept behind this collaboration, between Maria Papacharalambous and I, is how creative action, contact and dialogue could act as catalysts to extend our comprehensive boundaries and to enable us to view alternative realities within our collective whole that we often ignore.

 Evi Tselika- ‘Project obsessed’

Increasingly debated, the ‘social turn of the arts’ has been establishing itself as a methodology of work where practitioners aim to simulate situations were debate over socio political conditions is encouraged and multiple audiences are invited to participate. Since the 1970s when new forms of interdisciplinary hybrid social art practices emerged with the emphasis shifting to the process rather than the product; the practice and discourses of art committed to cultural and social change have become increasingly institutionalized. Largely aided by the art fair/ biennale culture and the ability of global dissemination of localized projects through the world wide web, artists’ increasing activity in producing situations in order to simulate inter communal contact, critical thought and challenging socio political conditions through their work has firmly established this multi-faceted practice in the arts system, market and educational structures. It is a practice that means that the artist assumes the role of the facilitator of situations and as such the artist needs to develop both good organizational and entrepreneurial skills. SEA projects will often focus on using small budgets for the production of projects whose influence reaches out of the institution and into the community itself. However Socially Engaged Art practices do not escape what sociologists Boltanski and Chiapello term as the phenomenon of the “projective city”.

“In a projective city, the general equivalent – what the status of persons and things is measured by – is activity. Life is conceived as a series of projects; and the more they differ from one another, the more valuable they are. What matters is to develop activity – that is to say, never to be short of a project, bereft of an idea, always to have something in mind, in the pipeline, with other people whom one meets out of the desire to do something” (2005, The New Spirit of Capitalism, p.109-110).

The artist as facilitator, the artist as entrepreneur can never be without a new idea or a new exciting project. However in this project obsessed arts practice and project driven cities, where does critical reflection occur amidst all the activity and have we become too obsessed with finding the next project?