My research is a practice-led, critical inquiry into the relationship between art and utility, the usefulness of the art object and the phenomenon of useful art. For art to be useful the expected outcome of artistic activity must be significant for the audience or group within which it takes place. Authors are replaced by initiators and viewers are transformed into users while art becomes a tool or device to change how we act in society.
The reciprocal readymade, a Marcel Duchamp idea of recycling art into objects of utility, as opposed to the standard readymade which recycled functional objects into art, has been re-introduced to contemporary art discourse in relation to the ‘use-value’ of art and socially engaged art projects, but not specifically to the art objects. I am attempting to address that by producing art objects, reciprocal readymades, and to test their usefulness during a series of artistic events involving the participants in scenarios where the works of art are literally used as utility objects.
This research also attempts to trouble the concept of usefulness of art through answers to the following questions: how art can be useful? who defines the usefulness of art - an artist/ the maker/ the initiator or the audience/ the participants/ the users? How do participants’ expectations shape the usefulness of art? Can the usefulness of art be tested by simply applying set of criteria? If the concept of ‘useful art’ is built on opposition, does it mean art is use-less?
My research methodology joins theoretical, largely art historical, enquiry with two activities that I am engaged in as an artist: my studio work, dedicated to exploration of contradictions between art object and functionality and collaborative, curatorial projects. The investigation examines the intersection between art and society, re-emergence of collective approaches to art making, artistic work and the re-discovery of the rural together with the transformative qualities of art.