Different roles in the same family: energising agit-prop craft and specialist craft artists


After reading the heated debate to Bruce Metcalf’s talk: DIY, Websites and Energy: The New Alternative Crafts at SNAG in Savannah 2008 and feeling rather conflicted about the whole ordeal, I found Kevin Murray‘s recap of Glenn Adamson’s keynote address at the AAANZ conference spot on. Adamson delivered a paper entitled, Modern Craft: Directions & Displacements at the Queensland Gallery of Modern Art. Murray commented on the discussion after the talk and mentioned some interesting thoughts about the relationship between agit-prop craft versus specialized craft artists.

I really like the way that this is expressed and wonder if we understand each group’s objectives more clearly then the divide might not be so big after all.

“It was a masterful talk that introduced fascinating new practices, particularly in the agit-prop domain. Adamson continued the line from his book Thinking Through Craft that while craft sits alongside visual art, is still a distinct practice of its own. A particularly charged word in Adamson’s talk was ‘friction’, which was used to express that element in craft that resisted conceptualisation.

The discussion that ensued was very interesting. The last questioner proposed that what made craft different from art was that ‘anyone can do it’. Adamson differed and argued that the ‘friction’ of craft is produced by many years of dedicated training in the understanding of materials. There seems quite a divide between the agit-prop craft that is energising collectives and the specialist craft techniques practiced by artists. How to bridge this divide is a very interesting challenge facing commentators on craft.”

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