Tuesday, July 5, 2011


In “The Digger Dug” Ben Kinmont asks himself “if it was possible to help others through an art practice and how a move outside of the institution might benefit or complicate that effort.” All artists ask themselves that question. (However, not everyone comes up with a project as exciting as Kinmont did based on the question.) He proceeded to ask a professional social worker what she thought. The answer was discomforting. At least, if you are an artist who wants to contribute to your community.

I was thinking about this project when I was walking through the park today and I slipped. As I was getting up, I looked up and a young couple smiled at me and asked if I was OK. I assured them that everything was fine. I was moved by their concern, but more than anything I felt strangely inspired by their warm smiles. I asked myself: if I paid a group of performers to go around in public places and smile genuinely at as many people as possible, would that help? Would that do something that could persuade Kinmont’s social worker to think more positively about the social potential of art? Was her negativity connected to her narrow idea of what art is could be?

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