Thursday, March 1, 2012

ART/CITY: Zach Pine

The Arts Research Center at UC Berkeley is sponsoring the symposium "ART/CITY" on March 16, 2012. Participants have been invited to respond to the prompt “in relation to the arts and civic life, the question I am wrestling with right now is…” in advance of the event. This guest posting is by Zach Pine, organizer of Soul Sanctuary Dance in Berkeley. 

As an artist whose work primarily consists of engaging people in participatory collaborative events, how can I best use public places in my work? One form my work takes is engaging the public in collaboratively creating ephemeral sculpture using natural materials. I’ve carried out many local public events in a diversity of settings: in Berkeley parks, on pavement  (street festivals), on private property bordering sidewalks, and even on the lawn in front of Berkeley’s Old City Hall. For some of these events, I felt confident of my rights and responsibilities -- for example, as part of a permitted street festival with a designated “zone” for my event. For other sites, I felt uncertainty :“Is this legal? Am I being a good citizen or might I be viewed as a public nuisance? Could I keep coming back to this place and become part of the fabric of civic life here?” My art serves to connect people with the natural world, and also with each other. It is a training ground and an exemplar for constructive collaboration, and as such it has civic value. I want to engage the public where I feel I can have a strong impact, for example, in downtown Berkeley. But those high-impact places seem to engender challenges. For me, and others like me, who want to overcome those challenges and engage the public in public spaces, who are our best partners in the community and in the city government, and what practice models can enlighten our action? 

No comments:

Post a Comment