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Living as Form: Socially Engaged Art from 1991-2011 Hardcover – February 17, 2012


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Living as Form: Socially Engaged Art from 1991-2011 + Education for Socially Engaged Art: A Materials and Techniques Handbook + Artificial Hells: Participatory Art and the Politics of Spectatorship
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 264 pages
  • Publisher: The MIT Press (February 17, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0262017342
  • ISBN-13: 978-0262017343
  • Product Dimensions: 10.2 x 7.7 x 1.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #45,029 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Bookforum

Living as Form is largely celebratory and expansive, preferring to pose enormous questions rather than suggesting how to answer them. Primarily it's a sourcebook, a starting point for further research, and a snapshot of critical conversation about the field. Its optimism can be infectious—look at how many different ways there are to do this stuff!—yet it's a compromised vehicle. Often we have to read between the lines to get a sense of what relations, or forms of living, come out of this work. —Sara Marcus

About the Author

Nato Thompson is Chief Curator at the New York--based public arts institution Creative Time. He edited The Interventionists: Users' Manual for the Creative Disruption of Everyday Life and Becoming Animal (both published by the MIT Press) and curated the MASS MoCA exhibitions they accompanied.

More About the Author

NATO THOMPSON is a writer and curator at Creative Time, one of New York's most prestigious art organizations. He is the editor of Experimental Geography: Radical Approaches to Landscape, Cartography, and Urbanism, The Interventionists: A Users' Manual for the Creative Disruption of Everyday Life, a survey of political art of the 1990s, and Ahistoric Occasion: Artists Making History. He recently produced Paul Chan's acclaimed "Waiting for Godot in New Orleans," which included free public performances of Samuel Beckett's play, theater workshops, educational seminars, and more.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By t3p on April 18, 2013
Format: Hardcover
Useful and inspiring: the 150+ pages of descriptions of projects by 100+ artists/organizations (including such as Ai Weiwei and Vic Muniz) exploring new ways of social engagement. Nicely done. The exploratory, thought-provoking, and knocking-down-walls aspect is enhanced by the inclusion of some entities/projects which would not normally even be thought of as "artistic" in nature.

Possibly less useful for some readers: the approx 70 pages of essays, which contain a lot of rarefied and politicized art-crit-speak ("We need to move beyond the abstraction of the 'global' in order to engage with the particularities of the political inscribed within local geographies of conflict. It is within this specificity where contemporary artistic practice needs to reposition itself in order to expose the particularity of hidden institutional histories, revealing the missing information that can allow us to piece together a more accurate anticipatory urban research and intervention."
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Anonymous on May 2, 2012
Format: Hardcover
This book is an awe-inspiring account of artists and activists who engage in community based projects through a broad range of approaches and perspectives around the world. Nato Thompson examines the role of community-based art in a world where art is viewed as a commodity rather than a vehicle for social change. The projects in this book strive to reach a broader public and ultimately strive to impact the lives of more people than ever before. Living as Form pushes our understanding of the power of art and its potential.

"The projects in Living as Form expose the numerous lines of tension which have surfaced in socially engaged art in the past twenty years, essentially shaking up foundations of art discourse, and sharing techniques and intentions with fields far beyond the arts. Unlike its avant-garde predecessors such as Russian Constructivism, Futurism, Situationism, Tropicalia, Happenings, Fluxus, and Dadaism, socially engaged art is not an art movement. Rather, these cultural practices indicate a new social order--ways of life that emphasize participation, challenge power, and span disciplines ranging from urban planning and community work to theater and the visual arts."
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Anonymous on May 8, 2012
Format: Hardcover
Living as Form is a great resource for anyone who wants to know more about the history of socially engaged art. With contributions from art world giants like Claire Bishop and Maria Lind along with essays by Creative Time Director, Anne Pasternak and Chief Curator, Nato Thompson, the book covers a huge range of iconic projects and gives critical insight into the field. Whether you saw Creative Time's landmark exhibition, Living as Form, last fall and want to know more about the artists and their practice or you weren't able to make it and are curious to see the work for the first time, this book is informative and engaging. A lot of the photo documentation in the book is difficult to find elsewhere and it's amazing to see images from such a huge range of projects. I highly recommend checking it out.
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By Anthony Carrier on February 9, 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I attended this exhibition for the full 2 weeks. Nato Thompson's grasp of this material is complete. The show was brilliant. This book is essential reading for anyone interested in this most important work we call Social Practice.
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By Paige Schneider on June 6, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is an extremely unique and informative book on an increasingly important part of visual culture--socially engaged art movement. Great images and interesting vignettes about the artists and their work. Highly recommend.
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