Socially Engaged Contemporary Art: Tactical and Strategic Manifestations 

This article introduced two important overarching approaches taken by socially engaged artists, strategic and tactical manifestations.  While reading this material the most obvious connection I was trying to make was to our overall project that we are tackling with Guatemala Despues.  Both manifestations, strategic which aims to bring about structural change and tactical which aims to create interventions (in discourse and popular narrative), have their merits. But on which side of the scale does the Guatemala Despise exhibition fall?

This really made me start to think about the exhibitions, the one in New York and the one in Guatemala, and in my mind I began to sort of separate them and consider them based on their different contexts.  After considering the exhibits separately I have come to the understand that they should not necessarily be interpreted in this way, as being separate entities.  Although, the contexts are different I think that the ultimate goal is the same, although this goal will manifest itself differently based on these two separate contexts.

In light of this reading I reached the conclusion that our ultimate goal is a more tactical one because “tactical projects have a very different relationship to power, and can make more pointed critiques” (Thompson, 12), or at least I momentarily did. Our exhibitions will create  critical discourse about historic memory and repression and disrupt traditional monolithic narratives. Guatemala Despues’s two exhibitions are site specific and short term, but they will continue to live on in our digital archive.  The exhibition is also complimented by public programming, which at this point is not concretely defined .

I would say that yes, our project is an intervention— but there is also something transformative about what the Guatemala Despues team of artists is proposing to do.  I truly believe that these projects have the potential to transform society and it is in that vein that I find it hard to say that our project is not in some ways not structural.  At least from what I gathered from this reading, tactical interventions have a fleeting quality to them and I do not think that Guatemala Despues’s mission is a temporary one.

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