Social Practice Art / by Chris Hall

I am not sure what to think of this.  On one hand, this seems like typical art in the expanded field (that is I question its legitimacy as art), but on the other, it is not your typical pessimistic Postmodernism either.  These people are actually trying to do something good for the world.  

Theaster Gates (artist as urban planner).  Dorchester Projects, 2009.  Gates revitalizes blighted neighborhoods in Chicago.  He purchased abandoned property and has turned it into something good for the whole community.  His first project became a library, a slide archive, and a soul food kitchen.
With the success of the first project, Gates bought more property across the street and turned the property into an arts theater, an artist in residence program, and a music listening room (8,000 LP library).

Jon Rubin and Dawn Weleski (artist as food service).  Their Conflict Kitchen opened in Pittsburgh, in 2010.  The restaurant serves only foods from countries that we are in conflict with as part of an educational program.  Focusing on one nation at a time, and changing the menu every six months, the changeover is celebrated with a festival and music from the new nation.  In the past they have shared food from Iran, Afghanistan, Cuba, North Korea, and Venezuela.  Their most recent for foray into foreign food, however, caused some controversy with their selection of Palestinian food.  They received death threats and had to shut down temporarily.  

CAMP (Computer Appropriating Missing Promises) - the name of an Indian collaboration space – (artist as data collector).  Their ongoing project, Wharfage, started in 2008, seeks to examine how the “business of business” is better than the “business of war.”  Essentially, they interview sailors on the trade route between the United Arab Emirates, Gujarat, and Somalia, collect port records, and record radio broadcasts.  While I confess I do not quite understand what their project is exactly, on the surface, it seems quite benevolent.