Community Arts: How can we learn from practices of the past?

1.11.2015, Talks

How can we learn from the practices of the past and develop new models for the future without losing our values?

Liverpool Biennial's annual conference Community Arts? Learning from the Legacy of Artists' Social Initiatives was held at the Black-E on Sunday 1 November 2015. The daylong event brought together distinguished thinkers and practitioners from the field of community arts to discuss the legacy of such practices in the light of a renewed interest in socially engaged art.

Sonia Boyce, Laura Raicovich, Polly Brannan and Sally Tallant examine how we can learn from the practices of the past and develop new models for the future without losing our values.

Sonia Boyce emerged as an artist in the early 1980s as a key figure in the Black-British art scene, with artworks that spoke about race and gender. Since the 1990s, out of the spontaneous performances of others, she uses the documented process to make multi-media artworks. Recent exhibitions include All the World’s Futures, 56th Venice Biennale (2015); S/N: Signal to Noise, Whitney Museum of Modern Art/The Kitchen, New York (2015); Speaking in Tongues, CCA-Glasgow (2014); Sonia Boyce: Scat – Sound and Collaboration, Rivington Place, London (2013); Play! Recapturing the Radical Imagination, Göteborg International Biennial of Contemporary Art 7 (2013) and The Impossible Community, Moscow Museum of Modern Art (2011). Boyce is Professor of Fine Art at Middlesex University, Chair of Black Art and Design at the University of the Arts London and is the Principal Investigator for a three year AHRC-funded project ‘Black Artists and Modernism’.

Laura Raicovich is President and Executive Director of the Queens Museum, New York, where she directs all aspects of the Museum’s activities and is charged with envisioning its future. She is a champion of socially engaged art practices that address the most pressing social, political and ecological issues of our times, and has defined her career with artist-driven projects and programmes. Prior to the Queens Museum, Raicovich launched Creative Time’s Global Initiatives, expanding the institution’s international reach. She came to Creative Time following a decade at Dia Art Foundation, where she served as Deputy Director. Previously she worked at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum and Public Art Fund. She lectures internationally and has contributed regularly to The Brooklyn Rail, and is the author of A Diary of Mysterious Difficulties, a book based on Viagra and Cialis spam, recently published by Publication Studio.

Polly Brannan is Education Curator at Liverpool Biennial. She is an artist and educator who has produced projects at Frieze Art Fair, Lisbon Experimenta Festival and Nottingham Contemporary, amongst others. She was Collaborations Curator at Studio Voltaire from 2006-9, and Education Curator at Serpentine Gallery from 2011-13. She is co-founder of network Avant Gardening, and was a member of the collective public works from 2005-11.

Sally Tallant is the Director of Liverpool Biennial – The UK Biennial of Contemporary Art. From 2001-11 she was Head of Programmes at the Serpentine Gallery, London where she was responsible for the development and delivery of an integrated programme of Exhibitions, Architecture, Education and Public Programmes. She has curated exhibitions in a wide range of contexts including the Hayward Gallery, Serpentine Gallery, Hospitals, Schools as well as public commissions. She has developed commissioning programmes for artists in a range of contexts and developed long term projects including The Edgware Road Project, Skills Exchange and Disassembly. She has also curated performances, sound events, film programmes and conferences. She is a regular contributor to conferences nationally and internationally. She is a Trustee of Metal, Advisory Board Member of Open Arts Archive (Open University), a Board Member of the International Biennial Association, and a member of the London Regional Council for the Arts Council of England.