Arts and Culture
This paper discusses how artists, architects and local community people have collaborated together to regenerate an “environmental aesthetics” of everyday life since the late 1990s that embodies and reflects the specificity of local culture, history and geography in the context of Taiwan where systematic urbanization has had a very negative impact in different areas. Depending on time and location these practices have taken an array of different shapes and names: “social sculpture”, “new genre public art”, “community art”, “participatory art”, “environmental art”, “dialogical art”, “relational aesthetics”, or “socially engaged art practice.” Taiwanese artists certainly share with their European counterparts the same values about the critical dimension of art in everyday life. However, one sizeable difference lies in the influence of Confucianism. Artists in Taiwan are truly thought to have the responsibility to improve society.
Such projects focusing on social art practices are rewarding for participants for they open questions for dialogues and give educational opportunities; they invite participants to consider critical issues related to their own community. A closer look into socially engaged art projects will allow us to appraise the social effectiveness of such projects, their “awakening” capability as regards both human and natural environmental issues, and their relational dimension in particular within the context of tensions between globalization and localization. Finally, we will have to ask whether these social art practices have succeeded in showing the way for sustainable development through community governance on environmental issues as well as through revivals of local cultures and life-styles.