Reflections on Socially Engaged Practice: Between Community Participants and Gallery Spaces
Based on a recent yearlong residency with two distinct but, geographically connected community groups, the paper questions the role and value of socially engaged photography (art) in public galleries. Reflecting on the project, which was part of an outreach programme commissioned by a national gallery, I argue for a greater emphasis to be placed on the process of such projects rather than the aesthetic outcomes. Whilst images are often read intertextually, often within the discursive frameworks that predominate said society (Rose, 2007) what happens when the images move context or the audience changes? What is the effect on the producers? How do you seek to diminish or maybe heighten their impact? Thus, by foregrounding how the less visible aspects of participation and engagement should and can become the final exhibition as an outcome of itself, the paper will point towards a number of ways in which participants, collaborators and curators work to consider such issues.
[i]Stephen Willats. Art and Social Function. (Ellipsis, London 2000), 11.