Sophie Hope talks with Gretchen Coombs about her new book, The Lure of the Social.
Gretchen Coombs works as a writer and researcher with a focus on socially engaged art practices in the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia. She also has a postdoctoral research fellowship in design and creative practice at RMIT University in Melbourne, Australia.
Her new book, The Lure of the Social, acts as a creative practice ethnography, which navigates a spectrum where at one end the author works closely with socially engaged artists as part of her ethnographic research, and at the other she tries to find a critical distance to write about their art projects and the institutional structures that support their work, such as art schools and conferences.
Over the course of the book, Coombs introduces readers to artists and their work, and to the key debates and issues facing this fast-growing and emergent field. She navigates the contradictions and paradoxes of this field of practice through description and analysis and, importantly, gives voice to the artists who are working to make art relevant in times of social and political uncertainty.