“Socially Engaged Art Practice: Concepts and Contexts”

Public talk with US curator Lydia Matthews

May 5, 18:00

Place: “Bookstall”, adress: Logvinenko, 19.  

Free entrance

The Bishkek School of Contemporary Art and CEC ArtsLink invite you to a public talk with US curator Lydia Matthews on May 5th at 18:00 at “Bookstall” (Logvinenko, 19). She will give an introductory talk about concepts and contexts of socially engaged art practice art. 

The meeting will be in English (but let us know if you need extra translation into Russian). 

How is it that a work of art may now double as a restaurant, a barter network, a walking tour, a community garden, a scientific study, a town hall meeting, or a virtual community archive, and vice-versa? Since the turn of the 21st century, artistic projects that invite exchange, imagine new social relationships, and provoke individual and collective actions have grown increasingly influential, especially amongst a younger generation of creative practitioners around the world. This transdisciplinary approach is typically characterized by collaboration across the liberal arts, the sciences and art/ design disciplines. Rather than being the product of a single artist working within an isolated studio, social practice projects are driven by the desire to connect, to look outside oneself in meaningful and tangible ways, and to positively impact daily life within specific communities—often co-created with people with a variety of life experiences.

For this kind of socially-engaged work to have an impact as both action and artwork, artists, designers, writers, scholars, architects, urban planners, and curators (among others) must develop a unique set of social and material skills. They must demonstrate an awareness of local histories and a nuanced understanding of the relationship between social justice, polemics and poetics. In today’s talk, Matthews will discuss these complex artistic and pedagogical dynamics by examining some recent projects, with an eye towards the ethics of cultural production in the public sphere.


Lydia Matthews is a Greek and U.S. based curator, writer, walking artist and professor at Parsons School of Design/The New School in New York City. Trained in contemporary art history, her work explores how artists, artisans and designers foster critical democratic debates and intimate community interactions in the public sphere, often in response to a variety of urgent global and local conditions in their daily lives. Publishing widely and lecturing internationally on socially-engaged art practices, her curatorial projects include exhibitions, participatory walking events, community-based urban festivals, and multidisciplinary pedagogical exchanges. Commissioned by Fulbright Foundation, CEC Artslink, Open Society Foundation, Trust for Mutual Understanding, Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, Emre Senan Foundation and the US Embassy in Georgia, she has organized participatory projects within Artisterium International Art Exhibition (Tbilisi, Georgia), Batumi Backyards Project (Batumi, Georgia); Dietski Dom Orphanage and Tengri Umai Gallery and Akkol /Almaty, Kazakhstan); Proteus Gowanus (Brooklyn, NY); Kuad Gallery (Istanbul, Turkey); Benaki Museum, the Byzantine Museum and Souzy Tros Art Canteen (Athens, Greece); and most recently in the Porto Foto Biennale (Porto, Portugal.) Her walking projects have been featured in NeMe Arts Centre (Limossol, Cyprus), Ca’Foscari University (Venice, Italy) and in Walking Arts Festivals (Delphi and Prespa, Greece.) For details, see: www.lydiamatthews.com 

We thank “Bookstall” for the opportunity to be hosted in Knijnaya Lavka and CEC ArtsLink for the opportunity to meet with Lydia Matthews. 

The Bishkek School of Contemporary Art

https://t.me/bishci, www.instagram.com/bishkek_art_school


CEC ArtsLink