Documents of Socially Engaged Art, 2021-22

10 December 2021 – 23 January 2022

Co-curated by Raphael Vella and AMASS partners

AMASS partners: The University of Lapland (ULAP), Finland; Associação de Professores de Expressão e Comunicação (APECV), Portugal; Univerzita Karlova, Czech Republic; Università ta’ Malta, Malta; Swedish School of Library and Information Science, Högskolan i Borås, Sweden; Budapesti Corvinus Egyetem, Hungary; PACO Design Collaborative, Italy; and the University of Leeds, UK.


Documentation plays a central role in the development and histories of artistic practices, particularly performative and other ephemeral practices. While the photographic documentation of conventional artworks like paintings might appear to be quite straightforward, the documentation of processes involved in the production of artworks, performance-based art and theatre practices tends to be more complex.  When these processes involve other participants and stakeholders like NGOs and members of particular communities, the role of documentation gains further ethical layers of significance.  One of these layers is related to the distinction between the experience of participating in an artistic project and the presentation of projects in documentaries, photographs and other forms of ‘evidence’. Another issue revolves around the fact that participation in socially engaged art is usually not intended specifically for institutional display. The question of ‘representation’ (and its association with power dynamics) often becomes central in discussions about exhibitions that focus on socially engaged art: Who is being represented? Who is documenting the various processes of art-making, performances, focus groups, and so on? Who decides what is relevant? How do some data and forms of knowledge become more established than others?

Documents of Socially Engaged Art responds to these and other questions by bringing together a varied collection of objects, artworks, videos, documentaries, texts, photographs, diagrams and other outcomes of a Europe-wide research testbed. This collection presents different strategies of artistic engagement and outcomes associated with skills development, political critique and creative production, and is loosely divided into four sections. These sections are not conceived as mutually exclusive categories but as interrelated fields that derive their potency from their connections with ideas expressed in other sections. Hence, while the first section focuses on ecological concerns, the second weaves these concerns into social projects and shared spaces. The third section draws attention to political tensions that emerge from the social sphere while the fourth and last section explores pedagogical and other strategies that turn political contestations into spaces of learning and coexistence.

Still photos: Elisa von Brockdorff

Interactive display: Zsófia Somogyi-Rohonczy (Ludwig Múzeum, Budapest)



  • January 10, 2022