"I went from being an artist who makes things, to being an artist who makes things happen."
The statement above by the British artist Jeremy Deller references not only a shift in his art practice in which the artworks, that often have a socially engaged and participatory dimension act as a catalyst for change, but is also indicative increasingly of the role art can have in contemporary societal affairs. Nato Thompson the chief curator at Creative Time in New York explains that this way of working is not about denying the role of the object in art but a statement of a way of working that, privileges a lived experience be it through human or non-human matter. When the artist Tania Bruguera proposes, that “it’s time to put the Duchamp urinal back in the restroom” she references a different outlook on the role of art and possibly the variety of places from which art now speaks 1. But what happens when the urinal is put back in the restroom – is it still art? In this setting, the blurring of boundaries between art and life are foregrounded, requiring us to engage differently - to approach meanings associated with the work in an alternative way. Thompson has suggested that we reframe the common but outmoded question “is it art?” in such a way that the focus is on the methods used to understand the effects, affects and impact of art.2 The emphasis on process-‐based art practice away from the ‘autonomous’ art object has changed the ways artists experience and engage with the world and for both artist and audience, the role of art as a tool for knowing has consequently undergone a reappraisal. Knowledge is perhaps not something one possesses but is registered in action – for instance to ‘know,’ as a ‘doing’ word moves in opposition to knowledge as an immutable thing to be held. The scientific worldview, with its emphasis on information, data and the establishment of facts, often seems to deny or suppress sensory interaction with the environment. Art on the other hand values and cultivates this as being central to its currency and effect.