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Pauline Oliveros.

Pauline Oliveros will perform her improvisational and collaborative work at the Rarig Center-Proscenium Theater on Saturday, December 4, at 8 p.m.

Art and Commitment: A conversation about the arts and society

A conversation about the arts and society

By Martha Coventry

Published on December 1, 2004

What does art have to do with politics? Is it a force for social change or simply the unique expression of an individual? What responsibilities do artists have in the face of the world's problems?

Questions like these, about the arts and the artist's place in society, have been in the air for centuries, but an upcoming symposium in the West Bank Arts Quarter is poised to ask them again--this time in a collaborative, public conversation.

The symposium, "Art and Commitment: A Conversation Between the Arts About Their Roles in Contemporary Society," contends that the last decade radically transformed the world, as superpowers and economies rose and fell and consumerism began to take a major toll on the arts and culture. It is a new world and thus may demand a new look at the role of art.

The key words during this lively gathering, December 2-5, will be "interdisciplinary" and "conversation" as some of the best and brightest in the art world gather at the University to think and talk about what they do and why they do it. Poets, dancers, musicians, painters, composers--it'll be a mixed and creative bag of artistic sensibilities and experiences.

But the explorations won't be all just intellectual. There will be plenty to see and hear as, among others, subversive performance artist Guillermo Gomez-Pena takes on global and Chicano culture, sound magician Pauline Oliveros pushes the edge of improvisation, and poetry teams slam together.

Art has been a force since the first humans put paintings on a cave wall and it will continue to shape and change the world. "Art and Commitment" will wonder out loud about just how that transformation may play out as the arts come together in the millennia ahead.

For a schedule of symposium events and to read about each participant, go to the Art and Commitment Web site.

"Art and Commitment" is part of President Bruininks's Initiative on Arts and Humanities, one of eight interdisciplinary initiatives that are the cornerstone of his administration. And the symposium is in the 21st Century Interdisciplinary Conference Series. To learn more about the initiatives and the series, see the Presidential Initiatives Web site.

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