This presentation will introduce the field of social sculpture and connective aesthetics, and what this has to do with shaping an ecologically viable and humane future. It will reference the theory, practice, and pedagogy Shelley Sacks has developed over several decades, including its roots in Joseph Beuys, Rudolf Steiner, Goethe, Schiller, and Jung. It will also highlight other key sources from Ivan Illich, Paulo Friere and E.F. Schumacher, to Vedic and Buddhist teachings, including Gandhi, Coomaraswamy and Tagore.
These ideas will be brought to life by her work to create new language in phrases like ‘Sustainability without the I-sense in Non-sense’ as well as images and descriptions of her social sculpture projects like Earth Forum, University of the Trees and Exchange Values - her acclaimed social sculpture with small farmers and global consumers, which since 1996, has been in many venues around the world, including the Johannesburg National Gallery for the World Summit for Sustainable Development in 2002. The ‘connective practices’ and ‘creative strategies’ in these projects – concerned with the relationship between imagination and transformation, freedom and responsibility, and inner and outer work - explore different forms of ‘capacity building’ and of ways to be ‘agents of change’.
Her talk will also outline the work of the Social Sculpture Research Unit in Oxford Brookes University, how this sits in an institution, and its interdisciplinary graduate programs that enable practice-based research. Shelley Sacks, like Beuys, regards teaching as an artwork, and institutions like universities, as one of the places where ‘enchanters need to appear’.
Shelley Sacks works internationally in connective practices and social sculpture. Her practice includes more than forty actions, site works, installations and participatory social sculpture projects; several essays and books, and involvement in grassroots cultural and political organisations. She facilitated social sculpture processes in South Africa in the 70s and 80s, and collaborated with Joseph Beuys for more than a decade in the Free International University. She leads a Masters and Doctoral programme in Social Sculpture at Oxford Brookes University (UK) where she is Professor of Social Sculpture and Interdisciplinary Arts, and Director of the Social Sculpture Research Unit.
Admission free and open to all