The Lure of the Social (Book)

Encounters with Contemporary Artists

The Lure of the Social is an intimate and personal exploration into key individuals, institutions and gatherings that make up the field of socially engaged art. In this beautifully written book the reader follows the author on her journey through what could be considered the most significant shift in art world practices in the last two decades.


The Lure of the Social: Encounters with Contemporary Artists is a creative practice ethnography which navigates a spectrum where at one end the author works closely with socially engaged artists as part of her ethnographic research, and on the other, she tries to find a critical distance to write about their art projects and the institutional structures that support their work, such as art schools and conferences. Over the course of the book, readers are introduced to artists and their work, and to the key debates and issues facing this emergent field. The author navigates the contradictions and paradoxes of this field of practice through thick description and analysis, and importantly, gives voice to the artists who are working to make art relevant in times of social and political uncertainty.

Originally from California, Gretchen Coombs researches and writes about socially engaged art practices in the US, the UK and Australia. Gretchen is a postdoctoral research fellow in Design & Creative Practice at RMIT University in Melbourne, Australia. She is the Co-Editor for the Intellect journal Art & the Public Sphere.

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