Community Service is a new series of public artworks commissioned by Letting Space, occurring over New Zealand arts festival platforms from 2012.
The series features artists working with people and communities to engender social change. This work also increases the space we call commons – whether it’s an under-utilised private or commercial site, or a public site that has fallen out of public utility or occupation.
Much like a rolling snowball or progressive dinner, we'd like for the Community Service projects to move from one festival environment to the next, gathering a momentum as they move through the country.
Our first projects are Free of Charge by Julian Priest at Splore Festival, (Auckland) in February and Productive Bodies by Mark Harvey, performed during the New Zealand International Festival of the Arts in Wellington in March.
This programme is about ‘letting space’ grow for new dynamic forms of physical and social interaction, tested out within the petri dishes of festivals - the extraordinary social environments that festivals create for people to come together, and be open to new experiences and ways of sharing. We also reference the broader term ‘Social Sculpture’ - in the spirit of Beuys’ enterprise rather than in replication of it. Beuys’ work anticipated a time when this term might be extremely relevant. The making of art principally with the process, minds and bodies of wider communities stretches back to the post-object art of the 1960s.
Image: Mark Harvey, I Am a Wee Bit Stumped performance