Monday, April 03, 2006

Sifting the Inner Belt 篩羅內環 Tamizando el Cintur�n Interno: "“Community doesn’t mean understanding everything about everybody and resolving all the differences; it means knowing how to work within differences as they change and evolve.”
–Lucy R. Lippard"

Sifting the Inner Belt is defining a new paradigm for social research. We are using performance art as a methodology that rejects the validity of “non-participant observation” and the false power and relationship structures created by “ethnographic research.” While there is a good body of theory and work around “participant action research”, we believe that it ultimately reinforces the boundaries between life and academia, bring the folk into a research structure and solution rather than vice versa. Our work, which we call “social performance art”, instead seeks to create change via observation, to instigate participation rather than insulate against it, and to embrace social (and in this case neighborhood) processes in our search for meaning, understanding, and change.
Neighborhood processes are already about understanding and seeking solutions. Through Sifting the Inner Belt we are using the conceptual and historical strategies of Performance Art to find meaning via these vernacular processes.

Sifting the Inner Belt’s Social Performance Art embodies situationalist art, fluxus, environmental research, social research, urban planning/history, public art, and agricultural/culinary marketing and market research. As Heisenberg uncertainty principle describes, at the quantum level, the observation or measurement of an event changes the event. Sifting the Inner Belt intends that our social performance art will create change through our observation and measurement.

Who is involved?
Aside from the project artists, this project involves a local arts organizations (Boston Center for the Arts), a local community asset (Berkeley Street Community Garden), and others. But most importantly, Sifting the Inner Belt, involves individuals and institutions already extent in the neighborhood, and already present as various constituencies. For Bitter Melon Week, restaurants and restaurant-goers alike will participate in a social performance art eventcum- culinary promotion festival. For the Nail Salon Exchange, every single gardener at the Berkeley Street Community Garden will be offered a free manicure to take place in the exhibit at the Mills Gallery. For Soil Translations, residents of the South End neighborhood will be encouraged to bring their “weeds” from their yards and replant them in a “weeding room” in the exhibit, where prerecorded neighborhood sounds will “feed” the weeds.

Relationship to the Community
In particular what are the “legacy outcomes from it you expect to have…what impact on the area might it have?” Sifting the Inner Belt is creating new avenues for connective community adaptation to the changing nature of the city and the South End neighborhood. Because Sifting the Inner Belt’s situationist approach is so unexpected the typical “automatic force fields” that isolate between class, ethnicity, economic status, and sexual orientation are disarmed.

Sifting the Inner Belt will help to protect what is best about the South End neighborhood – its diversity - from disappearing, and at the same time bring neighborhood folks together so that they may collectively change what needs to be different – reducing inequities of gentrification, averting cultural homogenization."


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