Guggenheim Social Practice

Artistic creation as a lever for social transformation

Since 2014, the Edmond de Rothschild Foundations have been supporting New York’s Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum with the launch and development of an unprecedented initiative: Guggenheim Social Practice. This socially engaged project endeavors to combine artistic performance and citizen activism with the closest possible involvement of New York City’s diverse communities. Two ambitious projects are the focus for the work of three renowned artists: Marc Bamuthi Joseph, Jon Rubin, and Lenka Clayton. 

The challenge

"These are politically volatile and ecologically urgent times that demand a deeper level of civic accountability for both artists and arts institutions."


Marc Bamuthi Joseph

As significant locations for cultural transmission in the service of individual emancipation and social inclusion, museums are called upon to continually examine and adjust their relationship with the world. This is the specific challenge to which Guggenheim Social Practice aims to respond, as it rethinks the connection between the arts and their audiences, drawing on changes in value systems and contemporary issues. It provides a means of encounter and for building a shared space between artists and communities, with the aim of encouraging creative growth in places where we don’t necessarily expect to find it.

Our ambition

In order to develop our expertise in artistic practices associated with civic engagement, we are supporting two projects with genuine social impact, projects developed and then implemented by three leading New York-based artists in 2016 and 2017.

Moving and passing 

Marc Bamuthi Joseph ( 2016)

To capture the practice of soccer as a site for analyzing modern-day economic, political, social, and aesthetic changes: This is the challenge to which March Bamuthi Joseph addresses in a creative project shared with the young members of soccer clubs and writing workshops in New York. The project combines poetry, choreography, music, and the visual arts in an exploration of the specific issue of minority integration.

A talking parrot, a high school drama class, a Punjabi TV show, the oldest song in the world, a museum artwork, and an unanswered prayer circle through New York 

Jon Rubin et Lenka Clayton (2017)

Six different locations. Thirty unprecedented collaborations, largely in dialogue with community organizations, businesses, and the Guggenheim Museum itself. Six months of performance during which each of those involved has the chance to incorporate the values and different habits of the other partners. This is the bold project undertaken by Jon Rubin and Lenka Clayton, who hope to subtly shift boundaries within an imaginary circle resembling Harlem, the Bronx, Queens, and the Upper East Side. 

Our solutions

Happening

Time and location-specific performances, conceived as unique moments of cocreation experienced in the midst of the their audiences’ daily lives

Multidisciplinarity

Dance, music, writing, sculpture, role play... Different art forms mingled and woven together, with the aim of initiating unconventional perspectives on cultural training and artistic creation

Diversity

A key objective involving empowerment and the overcoming of divisions between local communities

Evaluation

An analysis of the impact of the projects on the communities taking part and the artists and institutions involved, distributed in both digital and printed form

“We’re eager to watch as the initiative unfolds and believe that the participatory nature of each work will transcend traditional boundaries and demonstrate the power of community engagement in the arts.”

Firoz Ladak
General Director
the Edmond de Rothschild Foundations

The way forward

  • To distribute all of library material on the projects and their evaluation via the publication of digital and printed documentation.
  • To share our analyses with other cultural institutions nationally and internationally
  • To readjust the conventional practices of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum 

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