Arte Útil makes certain propositions about the goals, methodologies, and values that pertain to it. We assembled particular questions in four key areas to be tested throughout the laboratory. Key figures in artivism and related academic fields were invited to publicly present various positions vis-à-vis these hypothesis areas.

May 11, 2013: Aest-ethics: Social Aesthetics in Arte Útil
If Arte Útil takes transformation as its aesthetic principle, how do we develop a language that enables us to comment upon the changing values and qualities of these projects? Arte Útil projects necessarily engage non-artist users in the real world, and therefore, run the risk of unintended consequences — artist-initiators are not in full control of who uses the tools or to what end they are used, so how are they to be accountable? Who benefits the most from engaging in the project itself: the artist, institutional partner, or the users? Furthermore, how does one evaluate the ethics of Arte Útil projects that employ legal loopholes, unsanctioned gestures, or even illegal acts in achieving a social good?

• Tom Finkelpearl
• Carin Kuoni
• Núria Güell

Since 2002, Tom Finkelpearl has served as the Executive Director of the Queens Museum of Art, which operates as a cultural crossroads in America’s most diverse county through art programs, community organizing, and educational outreach. Finkelpearl was previously Deputy Director at P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center during its merger with the Museum of Modern Art, and has also worked as the Director of New York City’s Percent for Art Program and as the Executive Director of The Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture in Maine. Finkelpearl’s book Dialogues in Public Art (MIT Press) was published in 2000 and What We Made: Conversations on Art and Social Cooperation (Duke University Press) in 2012. Finkelpearl received a BA from Princeton University and an MFA from Hunter College, CUNY.

With a strict positioning oriented to create mechanisms for dissent, Núria Güell’s work reformulates the limits of legality. Abuse of power by institutions is detected through a study of established legality. Her projects develop as disruptive tactics in specific contexts, which engage and collaborate with agents and institutions, creating multidisciplinary networks. A graduate in Arts from the University of Barcelona (Spain), she continued her studies at Arte de Conducta in Havana (Cuba) under the direction of Tania Bruguera. Her work has been exhibited at the biennial of Havana, Pontevedra, Ljubljana and Liverpool, as well as in the Triennial of Tallinn, in museums of Barcelona, The Hague, London, Paris, New York, Chicago, Miami, Formigine, Stockholm, Madrid, Hertogenbosch, Istanbul, Leipzig, Bucharest, Zagreb, Cali and in self-managed social centres.

Carin Kuoni is Director and Curator of the Vera List Center for Art and Politics at The New School. Under her directorship, the Vera Center for Art and Politics has developed into an internationally recognized public think tank and research lab on the role of the arts in fostering new modes of civic engagement. Kuoni curates a dynamic program of interdisciplinary public lectures, conferences, performances, and panel discussions focusing on themes of political urgency and broad resonance. An art historian by education and a curator and critic by practice, Kuoni was previously director of exhibitions at Independent Curators International (ICI) and director of the Swiss Institute New York. She has curated many international exhibitions, among them The Puppet Show (2008–2009, with Ingrid Schaffner). Kuoni is also a founding member of the artists’ collective REPOhistory.

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