What is social practice? A short poem about one transitional definition by Stephen Pritchard

There's lots of discussion about how to define our field of practice.  I'm not sure we can or even should?  I'm very interested in the notion of transitional art practice.  I was a bit unsure at first.  I think I had problems fully comprehending the word when I was first introduced to it by Ruth Ben-Tovim.  She was clear.  I blocked it.  I was all about "socially engaged".  Perhaps I still am?  Reading Playing for Time by Lucy Neal has made me rethink my practice and my research alot.  Transitional art links back to my first encounters with the work of Suzi Gablik.  Lucy's book and Ruth's passionate application of transitional art practice are beginning to reconnect me to Suzi's ideas about reenchantment.  Perhaps I'm experiencing something of a transition?

This poem was a quick response to Cara Courage's call for practitioners to describe social practice.  I re-read it as a transitional piece with key elements of transitional art vocabulary missing.  I think I'm a little cold.  Unempathic.  More work to be done.  Would love to hear your thoughts and criticisms.  Perhaps you would like to share your own interpretations?


What is social practice?

Little creative acts of not knowing.

Political, sometimes radically activist, acts.

Potential spaces. Safe places where dangerous new realities might grow. Grassroots. Social justice. Collective. Autonomous. Communal.

Deeply suspicious of instrumentalism and state. Outside of institutions. Around and across margins.

A practice in which art as concept is everywhere. 

Unspoken, like innumerable tiny little secrets shared in moments outside the false strictures of coordinated civic time. 


Always uncertain… 

Messes of thread. 

 Stephen Pritchard.