Several times this question pops up from different onlookers that hardly enough understand the meaning of it. As a matter of fact, much often is not really clear in which direction the messages are going. Visitors are usually invited to read the works's explanations making the meanings surface and allowing to their comprehension.
There are obviously several ways to define it and lots of possibilities to speculate on it. When referred to socio-political art, the works are usually interwoven with socio-political themes. The term 'social' allow to think of an interaction with the visitors and it is addressed to a large spectrum of people that are asked to be participative in order to make the project works.
When it comes to definitions about what art and its attributes are, the boundaries are quite indefinite.
Nevertheless there are works that are immediate as they have a strong and direct impact on the people and the locations where they are set.
One of these impactful works was last year at Documenta14 in Athens. The brilliant intervention by Rasheed Araeen titled Shamiyaana - Food for Thought: Thought for Change (2017) created a special atmosphere.
Set in a large tend with the kitchen in the middle and various sectors on the sides where to seat and eat, the idea was to welcome everyone to have dinner for free in a shared environment in order to start a dialogue, an exchange and possibly, a solution to problems. 'Food for Thoughts' as an excellent 'mental and physical space' where to feed both spheres.
Talking to one of the volunteers came out that the guests had usually different backgrounds and the project-space was highly and harmoniously participated.
The singular story of a teacher that casually started a round table to teach Greek to some migrants becoming a regular basis activity, is one of the examples to underline the successful outcome and beautiful power of this socio-political art work.
When it comes to social and political projects, the sense of it stands on the necessity to increase a dialogue and therefore interaction based on respect, empathy, harmony, solidarity, tolerance, consideration and consciousness.
Socio-political art should have the extraordinary ability to 'speak' to the humankind and generate good changes.
Rasheed Araeen- London based Pakistani conceptual artist, sculptor, painter, writer and curator.