Documentation – Education for Socially Engaged Art – Helguera

*Authorship hinges on the existence of a recognisable product.


The centre of SEA -> “an intangible social interaction between a group of people can constitute the core of an artwork.”

Documentation to take the place of an ‘end product’.  How can you effectively document?

Up to the group participants to function as interpreter of these accounts – but not as primary reporter. How does this work in practical sense?

In the artists own description – lines are blurred between actuality and wishful thinking. Everyone interprets events differently – perspective/experience etc

If there is no verifiable documentation then work of fiction or symbolic piece is produced.

Means of documentation – film,video,series of photographs, word-of-mouth accounts, written accounts and interviews. They retain some aspect of ‘product’

Jurgen Habermas ‘if I organise a collective action then describe and illustrate it onmy own I am taking an instrumentalizing approach to what in theory was a collective experience.’ The art and the documentation must belong to everyone.

Documentation should be regarded as an inextricable component of an action,one which ideally, becomes a quotidian and evolving component of the event, not an element of postproduction but a coproduction of viewers, interpreters and narrators.’ – Documentation should be woven into the fabric of the art – not seen as a by-product or ‘add-on

Documentation must be understood and utilized in full recognition of its inadequacy as a surrogate for the actual experience (unless it is meant to be the final product, in which case the work would not be SEA)

Documentation is usually displayed in a traditional exhibition format, in which it is allowed to narrate the experience.

SEA cant evoke the immediacy of a collective experience in gallery goers by presenting a video recording of it – this would be viewed as a video installation and not as the social experience it was meant to communicate.


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