In socially engaged art practices in urban and rural areas around the globe, artists work as individuals or groups to address various emerging and everyday issues, whether social, political, economic, or environmental. At the same time, the arts are strongly linked to a cultural cosmopolitanism that associates them with the elite status of global cities and neoliberal celebrations of the “creative class.” As a result, socially engaged art has not only developed its own complicated relationship with liberalism, socialism, and neoliberalism, but it often finds itself caught in the culture wars that have exploded in many sites between anti-globalist populisms and (neo)liberal multiculturalisms.
How do practices of socially engaged art both contribute to and contradict the formation of the neoliberal public? Is the neopopulist public a practical expression of the neoliberal public or an expression of hostility toward it? How has socially engaged art negotiated a relationship to peoplehood in the age of neopopulisms?