Life Lessons #3: Suzanne Lacy & Wu Mali | Practice Makes Perfect

Organised as part of AAA’s twentieth anniversary, Life Lessons is a new series that enquires into models for education led by artists. We ask: What was the most influential lesson they learned in school? And how have they, in turn, passed on what they learned about forms of knowledge and care to their students or communities of learners?

Scheduled for spring 2020 to spring 2021, Life Lessons presents online and offline conversations and workshops with artists and art collectives who teach at universities, build educational programmes at arts organisations, and run their own schools. Each session addresses their unique teaching methods.

The third conversation features Suzanne Lacy and Wu Mali, both trailblazers in the field of social practice. Lacy and Wu will talk about socially engaged practice and its evolution, as well as feminism, ecology, and other social commitments. They will also discuss the relationship between working with communities and processes of teaching and learning.

Suzanne Lacy first trained as a biologist before studying at the historic Feminist Art Program—first at Cal State Fresno, and then at CalArts, where she worked with Judy Chicago, Miriam Schapiro, and Allan Kaprow. Her work has taken many forms—performance, video, installations—but she is perhaps most widely known for her work in socially engaged art and public practice, which frequently involve community organising, media intervention, and choreographed performance. She edited Mapping the Terrain: New Genre Public Art in 1995, and has been a leading voice in feminist art education and social practice. She is currently Professor of Art at the USC Roski School of Art and Design.

Wu Mali, recently dubbed the “godmother” of socially engaged art in Taiwan, attended the National Art Academy Düsseldorf, where she studied sculpture with Günther Uecker and Klaus Rinke. Since her return to Taiwan in 1985, she has developed groundbreaking work in the genres of installation and social practice, often focusing on issues related to women and the environment. She is also responsible for landmark publications such as Art and Public Sphere: Working in Community, a translation of Mapping the Terrain: New Genre Public Art, and exhibitions such as Post-Nature: A Museum as an Ecosystem at the 11th Taipei Biennial, co-curated with Francesco Manacorda. She directs the Graduate Institute of Interdisciplinary Art at National Kaohsiung Normal University.

This series is part of AAA’s ongoing research about the role of artistic pedagogy and art schools in the development of modern and contemporary art in Asia and beyond.

 

Suzanne Lacy is a pioneer in socially engaged and public performance art. She is a professor at the Roski School of Art and Design at the University of Southern California and a resident artist at 18th Street Arts Center. Her work has been on display at Tate Modern, the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles, the Whitney Museum, and the Bilbao Museum in Spain. In 2019, she had a career retrospective at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and the Yerba Buena Art Center. Also known for her writing, Lacy edited Mapping the Terrain: New Genre Public Art and authored Leaving Art: Writings on Performance, Politics, and Publics, 1974-2007.

Wu Mali is an artist based in Kaohsiung and Taipei. She teaches at the Graduate Institute of Interdisciplinary Art, National Kaohsiung Normal University, Taiwan. Her most recent solo show, Wu Mali. Working in Public 2006-2011, took place in Taipei in 2011. Her artworks have been exhibited at the Shanghai Biennial (2012), Taipei Biennial (2008), Fukuoka Asian Art Triennial (2005), Asia Pacific Triennial (1999), and Venice Biennale (1995). In 2014, she curated Art as Social Interaction, showcasing socially engaged projects of thirty artists and groups from Taiwan and Hong Kong.

This event is part of the AAA Learning and Participation Programme, supported by the S. H. Ho Foundation Limited and C. K. and Kay Ho Foundation.

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