Socially engaged art, post-truth and the monumentalising of democracy.

Lang, Martin and Grimwood, Tom (2023) Socially engaged art, post-truth and the monumentalising of democracy. Journal of Cultural Management and Cultural Policy, 9 (1). ISSN 2701-9276

Full content URL:

Socially engaged art, post-truth and the monumentalising of democracy.
Author's accepted manuscript

Request a copy
[img] Microsoft Word
LANG & GRIMWOOD - Socially Engaged Art and the Monumentalisation of Democracy.docx - Whole Document
Restricted to Repository staff only

Item Type:Article
Item Status:Live Archive


In 2021, for the first time, all the nominees for the Turner Prize were socially engaged art (SEA) collectives. The groups all ‘democratised’ their practices by relinquishing their authorial control to non-artists. Framed by the prestige of the Turner Prize, this relinquishing of control, through collaborative actions with various communities, was lauded as ethically meritorious, because of its egalitarian and non-hierarchical nature. We argue that behind the growing institutional success of SEA lies a tension between its ‘goodness’ as a necessity based on a model of authentic practice, and the context of ‘post-truth’ that informs its rejection of ‘artistic expertise’ in favour of egalitarian processes. However, we contend that it is not the processes themselves, but the monumentalising of democracy and equality that brings SEA into the domain of post-truth. We conclude that SEA must retain a dialectical tension between equality and the production of truth as a cultural value: a dialectic which involves the careful reinstatement of artistic authorship and a sincerer vision of its political ambitions and signification.

Keywords:Socially Engaged Art, dialectics, Reification, Turner Prize, Art Collectives, novice-expert comparisons, Monuments, post-truth politics, Democracy, curating, Documenta 15
Subjects:W Creative Arts and Design > W100 Fine Art
Divisions:College of Arts > Lincoln School of Creative Arts > Lincoln School of Creative Arts (Fine Arts)
ID Code:50247
Deposited On:16 Feb 2023 09:20

Repository Staff Only: item control page