Leading through art: exploring action and improvisation.
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DOUGLAS, A. 2014. Leading through art: exploring action and improvisation. Presented at the Macgeorge fellowship, Centre for creative partnerships, 4 March 2014, Melbourne, Australia. Melbourne: University of Melbourne.
A keynote such as this raises the expectations of a new beginning to a discourse, of presenting another way of thinking about a shared set of issues. The process of arriving at the focus of the keynote has been collaborative and discursive through a number of exchanges with Dr James Oliver of CCP. Our shared field of research is the role of the arts in the public sphere. My approach to that field involves practice-led research through the visual arts. To me this has come to mean an exploratory process of understanding what questions to ask-questions that go beyond the 'how to?' of artistic endeavour to 'why does it matter?'. I develop experimental art projects in response that enable those questions to become part of experience as critical understanding. The keynote is in three parts: the first sets out a proposition for a different point of entry into public art discourse from some current theories (Kester, Bishop et al): I offer 'leadership' and 'improvisation' as possible, interrelated alternatives. The second section draws on an experience of an experimental art project to 'test' some of the (aesthetic, social, cultural) implications of that proposition in experience. The learning from this project resonates in important ways with Hannah Arendt's discussion of leadership and its implication in the notion of action. Leadership is therefore only ever part of a process, one that is contingent, improvisational. The third section draws out some implications for discussion.