Centre for Cultural Partnerships - Theses

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    “Naming the world”: a relational approach to representational practice in socially-engaged arts and cultural indicators
    Badham, Marnie Kay ( 2012)
    This thesis argues for a relational approach to forms of representational practice, offering meaningful ways for communities to engage in self-determination by “naming the world.” This approach challenges the cultural hierarchies of both formal government policy benchmarks and contemporary art paradigms, by offering a more localized and situated approach to represent local values and aesthetics. Paulo Freire’s conscientização is used as a framing device to identify this relational approach in two forms of representational practice: socially-engaged arts and the development of cultural indicators. This pedagogy of critical consciousness offers a dialogic space to reconcile real world contradictions and prevailing mythologies. Thus, “naming the world” is understood as a process of representing one’s self, shifting from object-hood to a position of subjectivity. The thesis positions these representational practices as both method and subject of inquiry through the exploration of two practice-led case studies. The studies investigate the development of local cultural indicators in two unique contexts: the increasingly gentrified and socially diverse City of Port Phillip, Melbourne, Australia and the North Central neighbourhood in Regina, Saskatchewan, identified in media reporting as “Canada’s Worst Neighbourhood.” The thesis concludes by emphasizing the inextricable link between aesthetics and ethics in these forms of representational practice and that cultures are neither closed nor static, but in fact, multi-layered, evolving and unique; this has specific implications for the field of cultural indicators. Comparative studies are illuminated as fundamentally problematic, and instead, a new relational approach to contextually rich and community-driven processes is mandated.