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Guggenheim Museum launches new social practice art initiative with major grant
Marc Bamuthi Joseph.

NEW YORK, NY.- The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum has received a major grant from the Edmond de Rothschild Foundation to support Guggenheim Social Practice, a new initiative committed to exploring the ways in which artists can initiate projects that engage community participants, together with the museum, to foster new forms of public engagement. As part of the initiative, the museum will commission two separate artist projects, one by Marc Bamuthi Joseph and one by Jon Rubin and Lenka Clayton, which will be developed and presented in New York City in 2016 and 2017, respectively.

The Guggenheim Social Practice artists were selected based on an in-depth review of their impact within the field of socially engaged art, as well as their ability to positively connect with members of the public as collaborators and/or cocreators. The artists are currently working with the Guggenheim to refine their projects. The first of these by Joseph is titled moving and passing and will take place in June 2016.

Produced to coincide with Joseph’s forthcoming premiere /peh-LO-tah/ at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, San Francisco, moving and passing examines the cultural complexities of soccer, including ways in which the global sport may be used to connect young people with the arts and bring awareness to issues facing immigrant communities. Joseph will work with New York City youth in soccer clinics and writing workshops, stimulating discussions around global economies and sports as politics. Spoken word poems and storytelling will form the basis of a theatrical experience featuring live music and choreography inspired by South African and Brazilian dance and the quick footwork necessary in soccer.

Joseph commented, “These are politically volatile and ecologically urgent times that demand a deeper level of civic accountability for both artists and arts institutions. I’ve been a lifelong admirer of the Guggenheim and I feel both humbled and emboldened to be included in their vision of socially integrated creative partnerships. My hope is that our project will lay the foundation for other models of kinesthetic learning and make more visible the link between aesthetics and athletics in the social realm.”

The second Guggenheim Social Practice project, expected to launch in spring 2017, is currently being developed by interdisciplinary artists Jon Rubin and Lenka Clayton. Rubin’s ongoing collaboration with Dawn Weleski in Pittsburgh, Conflict Kitchen, serves food from countries in conflicts with the United States, encouraging public engagement with the culture, politics, and issues at stake within the highlighted regions. Clayton is founder of An Artist Residency in Motherhood, which challenges the traditional artist residency and confronts the impact and reality of motherhood on her practice.

Guggenheim Social Practice is organized by curatorial and education staff from the Guggenheim, including Kim Kanatani, Deputy Director and Gail Engelberg Director of Education; Nat Trotman, Curator, Performance and Media; Sharon Vatsky, Director of Education, School and Family Programs; Christina Yang, Director of Education, Public Programs; and Joan Young, Director of Curatorial Affairs.

A key component of the initiative will be an impact analysis to be conducted by the museum throughout the duration of the program to assess the effect of social practice art on participating communities, artists, and the institution.

Kanatani remarked, “My colleagues and I are honored to collaborate with Marc, Jon, and Lenka on the two public engagement projects commissioned through Guggenheim Social Practice. Our ongoing collaboration with these three remarkable artists is shifting our ideas of the internal structure of a museum, and expanding our thinking about the traditional exchange between the institution and the public it serves through involvement with participatory, socially based work. It is with great thanks to the Edmond de Rothschild Foundation that we’re able to pilot this initiative, readjust museum conventions, and ultimately share our findings with partners in the field.”  

Firoz Ladak, CEO of the Edmond de Rothschild Foundation, announced on behalf of the foundation, “I am thrilled that the Guggenheim and the Edmond de Rothschild Foundation have joined forces to develop this unprecedented project, which is being entrusted to three outstanding artists. We’re eager to watch as the initiative unfolds and believe that the participatory nature of each work will transcend traditional boundaries and demonstrate the power of community engagement in the arts.”

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