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Public Servants, Edited by Shannon Jackson, Published by MIT Press

Public Servants: Art and the Crisis of the Common Good is being published by the MIT Press. This volume gathers essays, dialogues, and art projects—some previously published and some newly commissioned—to illuminate the ways the arts shape and reshape a rapidly changing social and governmental landscape. An artist portfolio section presents original statements and projects by some of the key figures grappling with these ideas.

Concepts such as “new genre public art,” “social practice,” or “socially engaged art” may imply a synergy between the role of art and the role of government in providing social services. Yet the arts and social services differ crucially in terms of their methods and metrics. Socially engaged artists need not be aligned (and may often be opposed) to the public sector and to institutionalized systems. In many countries, structures of democratic governance and public responsibility are shifting, eroding, and being remade in profound ways—driven by radical economic, political, and global forces. According to what terms and through what means can art engage with these changes?

Shannon Jackson is Associate Vice Chancellor of the Arts and Design and the Cyrus and Michelle Hadidi Professor at the University of California, Berkeley. Her publications include Social Works: Performing Art, Supporting Publics.

Find and purchase the book at the MIT Press, here.

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