Arte Util roughly translates into English as ‘useful art’ but it goes further suggesting art as a tool or device. It draws on artistic thinking to imagine, create and implement tactics that change how we act in society. 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 Util case studies show how these initiatives are not isolated incidents, but part of a larger historical trajectory that is now 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. Proposing new uses for art within society. Using artistic thinking to challenge the field within which it operates. Responding to current urgencies. Operating on a 1:1 scale. Replacing authors with initiators and spectators with users. Having practical, beneficial outcomes for its users. Pursuing sustainability. And re-establishing aesthetics as a system of transformation.