Collecting Social Things



How might collections preserve and reflect what is on offer by way of social practice, which includes, among other things, interactive installations, architectural propositions, public actions, community organising, the preparation and serving of food, and even policy reform? Do we collect documentation meant to evoke a past instance of socially created meaning, or something symbolic meant to communicate a poetics of a former work around a particular issue? What is the “object,” so to speak, of social engagement? What is the thing that is being collected, presented, or interpreted exactly? Things associated with social practice are entering major museum collections, at any rate, so how might these collection practices reflect this unwieldy field?


Social practice Socially engaged art Public practice Museum studies Contemporary art 


  1. Alÿs, Francis and Saul Anton. “A Thousand Words.” Artforum International Vol 40, No 10, Summer 2002: 146–147.Google Scholar
  2. Bernstein, Robin. “Dances with Things: Material Culture and the Performance of Race.” Social Text 27 (4), 2009: 67–94.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Brown, Bill. “Thing Theory.” Critical Inquiry Vol. 28, No. 1, THINGS. Autumn, 2001, 1–22.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Bruguera, Tania. Interview by Joey Orr. Email interview, Chicago, IL, November 10, 2015.Google Scholar
  5. Center for Contemporary Arts Estonia. “Kristina Norman.” Accessed August 4, 2013.
  6. Hacklin, Saara. Interview by Joey Orr. Email interview, Chicago, IL, June 25, 2015.Google Scholar
  7. Hoptman, Laura. Interview by Joey Orr. Email interview, Chicago, IL, September 20, 2015.Google Scholar
  8. Lacy, Suzanne. Interview by Joey Orr. Telephone interview. Chicago, IL, July 19, 2015.Google Scholar
  9. Mackie, Amy. Interview by Joey Orr. Telephone interview, Chicago, IL, September 11, 2015.Google Scholar
  10. Nash, Mark. “Mark Nash on Kristina Norman: After-War.” A Proposal for Articulating Works and Places. 2009. Accessed June 21, 2016.
  11. Norman, Kristina. Interview by Joey Orr. Email interview, Chicago, IL, December 30, 2014.Google Scholar
  12. Norman. Kristina. “Poetic Investigations.” In Kristina Norman: After-War, edited by Andreas Trossek, 7–28. Estonia: Center for Contemporary Arts, Estonia, 2009.Google Scholar
  13. Rogoff, Irit. “Taking Part.” Keynote talk for the George Roeder Graduate Symposium at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, IL, USA, May 2, 2008.Google Scholar
  14. Siitari, Pirkko. Interview by Joey Orr. Email interview, Chicago, IL, June 16 and 24, 2015.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Spencer Museum of ArtUniversity of KansasLawrenceUSA

Personalised recommendations