Mirthful morbidity

By GREG COOK  |  April 3, 2012

The real action is a series of workshops that mine the library. Amy Walsh helped participants use the library to design "personal and experimental maps." Andrew Oesch and Jori Ketten will show participants how to "generate a set of personal encyclopedias" on April 5, 21, and 26. Shea'la Finch will help people use the library to create "visually compelling stories" on April 9 and 16. Lara Henderson teaches bookbinding on April 11 and 18, and Oesch will tell you how to make pop-up books on April 19.

The umbrella academic term for these sort of art projects is relational aesthetics, though the idea goes back at least as far as Joseph Beuys's "social sculpture" and feminist consciousness-raising groups of the 1960s. And for some of the local organizers, it's a logical outgrowth of their work leading youth art programs at places like New Urban Arts. The idea is to move us beyond passive looking to interaction. So it's not really about what you see in the exhibit, but the possibilities it proposes. It can feel a bit like a parlor game, but its aims are big, encouraging us to directly participate in the art world — and then to get more directly involved in the rest of the world as well.

Read Greg Cook's blog at gregcookland.com/journal.

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