Collaborative World Building

Socially Engaged Art and Art Education

Symposium, University of Applied Arts, Vienna. May 24-26, 2023

Collaborative and socially engaged practices are central to contemporary artists. Understanding their work not just as discrete practices of visual expression, but as a form of world building, artists engage with culture writ large, within places, circumstances, and communities they live in. In this symposium, we aim to explore the unique opportunities as well as challenges of collaborative world building in shared spaces of civic engagement in three related areas: classroom, in the curriculum, and in the community.

We want to ask what artists can learn from the communities they work with. What knowledge or assumptions do they bring into such work? Likewise, how can communities benefit from their collaboration with artists? This intricate work with communities and the questions that it brings up cannot easily be transferred into the classroom. Thus, what tools and competencies are lacking in the teaching of collaborative world building that can inform artistic practices outside of art spaces?

Focusing on three concentric circles: the collaborative space/community, the classroom/students and the public space of engagement/audiences, the symposium offers collaborative learning experiences, workshops, round-table discussions, break out-sessions, and performances to provoke conversations and exchange. It will start with keynote lectures addressing the ethics of social practice and how we teach it. Student voices are an integral part of the symposium, providing a deeper understanding of their needs and expectations for teaching and learning in the arts. 

Through a series of sessions, we will focus on a number of guiding questions, including: How do we have difficult conversations? What can we learn from working collaboratively with communities? How can we teach it?

The symposium is organized by the University of Applied Arts, Vienna, in conjunction with the Art and Art Education program at Teachers College, Columbia University, and the Visual Studies Program at Montclair State University.

Ruth Anderwald + Leonhard Grond, Mirna Bamieh, Işıl Eğrikavuk, Nicole Furlonge, Lydia Matthews, Shaheen Merali, Dorit Naaman, Jo Schmeiser

Omry Batkilin, T Braun, Judith Haslöwer, Marla Heid, Verena Miedl-Faißt, Arzu Mistry, Stephanie Spitz, Julia Stern, Jason Watson

Organizing Committee:
Livia Alexander, Richard Jochum, Isin Önol, Barbara Putz-Plecko


DAY 1: Wednesday, May 24, 16:00 – 19:00

Opening Session: Welcome and Keynotes

Dorith Namaan, Lydia Matthews, Shaheen Merali
Chair: Barbara Putz-Plecko

DAY 2: Thursday, May 25

Session 1: 09.00 – 12.30
Safe & Brave Spaces

How do we have difficult conversations?
Nicole Furlonge & Fellow Students
Chair: Richard Jochum

Session 2: 14:00 – 17:30
Strategies of Engagement: What do I need to learn about engagement?
Işıl Eğrikavuk, Mirna Bamieh, Ruth Anderwald & Leonhard Grond
Chair: Işın Önol

DAY 3: Friday, May 26, 09.00 – 12.30

Session 3: Collaboration as a Critical Practice: Now, how can I teach it?
Dorit Naaman, Barbara Putz-Plecko, Jo Schmeiser
Chair: Livia Alexander