The last decade has seen significant changes in how audiences’ experiences of art are understood. There has been a strong emphasis on exploring new forms of exhibition-making and museum display – particularly with regards to the viewer’s sense of being implicated in a work.
Artists have experimented with making the viewer more conscious of the way art is experienced and more active in the realisation of the work or the art event. There has also been a move away from the emphasis on the artist as an individual, the model prevalent over most of the last century, towards collaborative processes – whether amongst groups of artists or between artists and audiences.
One of the most frequently cited characteristics of this period in art practice is its inclusiveness of all forms, media and strategies, and of all geographies. Formal or media based criteria for discussing and evaluating art have been surpassed by approaches that emphasise how artists use particular strategies in particular contexts to enlarge the field of art, question limits and constantly renew the relationship between art and life.
Today, many artists’ primary point of departure for a new work is a response to the world, whether a political event, an ethical question, or a deeper social or psychological phenomenon. Artists often act as sensitive receptors, foreseeing the direction of events or changes in social perceptions. Many have responded to the fragility and limits of human systems after the stock market crash of 2008, and to escalating evidence of impending environmental disaster. They have found ways to express an expanding ecological awareness and a sense of shared responsibility.