Text and Images by Ekene Okobi, PG Community Ambassador
studying MSc Applied Psychology in Fashion at London College of Fashion
On 6 March, 2018, The second edition of the 2017/2018 Postgraduate Community Reading Group Series Passagens was held at Chelsea College of Arts. Passagens is a cross-disciplinary postgraduate reading series created to foster dialogue on migration by London College of Fashion Professor and Chair of Art and the Environment Lucy Orta. The presenter for this particular session was Áine O’Brien, co-director of Counterpoint Arts.
O’Brien began by challenging the popular notion of the individualistic artist, working without context or a sense of the larger community. She suggested an alternative: the artist as political agent for whom there is no clear distinction between when their art ends, and their activism begins. She used the term “artivist” to describe those who engage in what is typically described as Social Practice Art, or participatory art forms that engage viewers and communities in dialogue about political issues and/or controversial/current events. O’Brien went on to explain the role that Counterpoint Arts plays in this process, which she described as threefold: 1) Mentoring artists, and smaller collectives working in the field of social practice art, 2) Working with larger, or what O’Brien describes as “flagship” organizations to create programming designed to bring marginalized voices and communities in line with these more established institutions’ mission and outreach, and 3) Facilitating educational experiences that are dynamic, democratic and provoke reflection.