Open Engagement is an international conference that sets out to explore various perspectives on art and social practice and expand the dialogue around socially engaged art making. The Open Engagement conference is an initiative of Portland State University’s Art and Social Practice MFA concentration. Directed and founded by Jen Delos Reyes and planned in conjunction with Harrell Fletcher and the Art and Social Practice students, this year’s conference features keynote presenters Tania Bruguera, Shannon Jackson, and Paul Ramirez Jonas. The work by these artists and scholars touch on subjects including politics, economies, education, and representation.
Through conversations, presentations, workshops, interviews, open reflections, and related projects created for or presented at the conference, we will be investigating, questioning, celebrating, and challenging the current state of art and social practice. This conference is a site where an intergenerational exchange can occur between emerging artists and established artists. This is also a site where transdisiplinary conversation is possible.
Open Engagement is a free conference that will take place May 18-20, 2012, in Portland, Oregon. Contributors are not asked to pay a registration fee and the public will not be charged to attend. Contributors to the event will be supported in the following ways: participants from out of town will be housed in Portland homes, select meals during the conference will be provided emphasizing community dining, and a variety of transportation will be provided drawing on Portland’s bike culture and public transportation.
We are organizing thematic groupings through-out the conference: Politics, Economies, Education, and Representation.
Politics: This line of programming explores the intersections between Art and Activism, Power, Protest, Creative Tactics for Social Change and more.
Economies: This line of programming examines ideas of value alongside systems of exchange, focusing on alternative tactics in the contemporary context. From consuming to contributing, banking to bartering, the cost of living to the cost of giving and everything in between.
Education: This line of programming explores social practice methods related to alternative education, free schools, outdoor schools, socially engaged art in the academy, museums, K-12 education and pedagogical art practice. We are seeking proposals that demonstrate a diversity of approaches to site-specific learning and facilitate workshops in our neighborhood classroom venue.
Representation: Who am I? Who are you? How do the representational strategies we use shape the space in between? This area of programming focuses on the formal and communicative choices that produce and circulate meaning through representation. Topics for exploration include documentary practices, authorial voice, history and memory, ethnography, presence and absence, language, power, the image of the body, the image of the community, the imprint of cultural artifacts, and the ways new technologies and social formations impact how we represent ourselves and each other to each other.