Art's usefulness is a funny conversation, and one that will be had tomorrow night at Texas Theatre. We think of "art for art's sake" and the nobilities surrounding that -- those lofty Platonic ideals deemed somehow so pure, so intangible that they exist in a mysterious, non-utilitarian fume.
But that's arguable: Even art conjured in a remove inevitably acquires a sidecar of usefulness. Stuff meant for pure contemplation may trigger an economic pull, an educational component or some offshoot factor not initially ascribed to its intent.
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In the other corner sits the more directly "useful" arts: hand-painted hats, chairs and cars or artifacts that quickly spark recognition of a thing you do stuff with, or ideas that may be directly implemented to create change.
All of that banter interests interdisciplinary artist Tania Bruguera and SMU Asssociate Professor of Art Noah Simblist, so they'll bat their own thoughts around on the topic tomorrow, Wednesday, at Texas Theatre in the justly titled program "The Usefulness of Art: Tania Bruguera in Conversation with Noah Simblist."
Bruguera operates Immigrant Movement International out of a storefront in Queens, an organization dedicated to providing "free educational, artistic and consciousness-raising activities to a community of immigrants," while also serving as a think tank for immigrant issues. Her list of accolades is long, and her interests targeted, focused primarily on "arte útil" or "useful art."
In the hot seat is Noah Simblist, an artist, educator, writer and multi-hyphenate whose passions focus on art and politics in Israel-Palestine. The free lecture kicks off at 7 p.m.