ERG SES C 07, Arts and Education
This research aims to explore the use of a Socially Engaged Arts Practice (SEAP) [Johnston, 2011] Intervention in the Post-Conflict, Post-Colonial arena of Belfast. SEAP as a socially focused qualitative Arts-Based Research (ABR) paradigm, aims to explore the innate democracy of Visual Arts (mark-making) as a vehicle through which to critically engage with society and furthermore, as a conduit through which to deconstruct and examine Post-Conflict societies through socially responsible educative practices; educative practices which may adopt differing ‘localist’ approaches to the question of how to reach citizens and engage them in educative processes in a manner which does not merely replicate existing structures of power. One of the key strands to this research proposal is the use of collective/shared, memories/histories/narratives as a means to unstitch the fabric of knowledge and ways of knowing and to use the plurality of voices (that result from the Intervention) as a means to engage citizens and students in dialogue that transcends boundaries such as age, race and religious affiliation; dialogue which perhaps otherwise wouldn’t happen.
The educative value of this project is located in two key areas. Firstly in the sphere of that which can loosely be described as ‘Public-Pedagogy’ - bringing critically engaging Art to the people of Belfast; taking Art out of the galleries and reclaiming it as a legitimate vehicle for social enquiry and its exploring its educative and social value in both ‘contested’ spaces (spaces where demarkation lines have been draw - literally or metaphorically), and ‘spaces of participation’(Jones: 2003, 598). And secondly in the locus of critical reflection that inevitably accompanies the Visual Arts, both for the practitioner (myself), the participants of the intervention (the citizens of Belfast) and the viewers (the spectators of the work). And ultimately, how these various standpoints offer a chance to critically engage with others on a common theme.
Specifically this paper describes a proposed (at time of writing) shared education Arts-Based Intervention for secondary school students which spans the sectarian divide in Belfast. This Intervention employs a specific Japanese cultural artefact (JCA) [the exact details of which cannot be divulged in this format, but will obviously be shared at presentation stage] which has been reshaped into a unique research tool to facilitate dialogue in contested spaces and to reframe that space as a ‘Space of Participation.’
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