Arte Útil roughly translates into English as 'useful art' but it goes further suggesting art as a tool or device. For the past ten years the artist Tania Bruguera has been teaching and researching Arte Útil through an academy in Havana; the Arte Útil lab at Queens Museum, residencies at Immigrant Movement International, New York and most recently the Museum of Arte Útil, in the Old Building of the Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven.
Whether through self-organised groups, individual initiatives or the rise of user generated content people are developing new methods and social formations to deal with issues that were once the domain of the state. Arte Útil case studies show how these initiatives are not isolated incidents, but part of a global movement shaping our contemporary world. The notion of what constitutes Arte Útil has been arrived at via a set of criteria that was formulated by Tania Bruguera and curators at the Queens Museum, New York, Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven and Grizedale Arts, Coniston.
The criteria of Arte Util state that initiatives should:
1- Propose new uses for art within society
2- Challenge the field within which it operates (civic, legislative, pedagogical, scientific, economic, etc)
3- Be ‘timing specific’, responding to current urgencies
4- Be implemented and function in real situations
5- Replace authors with initiators and spectators with users
6- Have practical, beneficial outcomes for its users
7- Pursue sustainability whilst adapting to changing conditions
8- Re-establish aesthetics as a system of transformation
Arte Útil also has an online archive of projects worth looking at.