Not Art - Shana Lutker - Relational practices

Shana Lutker's essay NOT ART: “Every garden a munition plant” from Volume 8 Issue 4 of X-tra provides a compelling example of the sorts of activities we at LeisureArts have been pointing to as a way out of Claire Bishop's (and other critics of relational/littoral/blah blah practices) art-centric critical perspective.

In the essay she outlines the work of Fritz Haeg and his Edible Estates project ("a plan to turn nine front lawns around the country into edible landscapes."). Lutker notes how Haeg does not fit neatly into relational art evaluation citeria:

"First, Haeg does not identify himself as an artist, though he is often working with and around artists. Secondly, Haeg is approaching this project with a specific goal in mind—his aim is not to see where the collaboration leads, or how the families’ needs are best met—his goal is to invigorate a dialogue around personal responsibility for a public good. Thirdly, Haeg’s project does not harbor any ethical questions about the nature of collaboration or the potential for manipulation of his chosen communities."

Additionally:

"And, in not being an artist, Haeg may be able to expand his potential audience. As an artist’s project, the Edible Estates would either be too readily contained within the discourse of contemporary art, or contradictorily, would be seen as too design-oriented—not art at all. On the other hand, as an architect’s project, it is too arty. The Edible Estates project is a hybrid, and it is too contaminated by its makeup of part architecture, art, ecology, and design to be accepted by any one of these disciplines. Haeg is dependent on contemporary art networks for exhibition venues and financial support, partially because he is already familiar with them, but also because few other venues could house this kind of project. [emphasis ours] But ideally, he envisions the project moving beyond the art world."

The emphasized portion of the quote above resonates with the notion of artist by convenience rather than choice that we have written about extensively. It also resonates with Kaprow's "unartist" in a very direct way. The art network is utilized not because it is ideal, but because it is the best choice currently available. Shana Lutker provides a useful profile for building the new critical and creative frameworks that LeisureArts is hoping to think through and that might eventually lead to the construction of more appropriate networks.