Shelley Sacks is an artist who writes, teaches, performs and works across many disciplines to facilitate creative exchanges that empower people and lead to new ways of seeing our lives and the world around us. Since 1970 Shelley Sacks has worked between South Africa, Germany and, since 1990 in the UK, exploring new forms of art and their relationship to the struggle for a sustainable and democratic society. Her work includes more than forty live actions, site works, and installations; involvement in grass roots cultural and political organisations; facilitating cooperatives in the 1970’s and 1980’s in South Africa; and collaborating with Joseph Beuys for more than a decade in the Free International University. She is a REady in Fine Art at Oxford Brookes University, and Director of the Social Sculpture Research Unit.
“Since my childhood in South Africa and later in many visionary teachers who ‘performed’ their values. Amongst these were Joseph Beuys and Nisreyasanda. But the people in the backyards with whom I secretly exchanged dreams, my meetings with traditional women healers, the land itself and the multitude of creatures- the, too, were my teachers.”
Now in the UK as a Reader at Oxford Brookes University, I coordinate the Social Sculpture Research Unith and the new Masters programme in Social Sculpture, alongside my involvement in a range of social sculpture projects, including the Sustaining Life Project. Recent works focus on civil society processes, interdisciplinary pedagogies and methodologies of engagement.
All these works are instruments that involve, ‘trans-actions’ between people, issues and places. They are arenas for negotiation, creating shared currency and new forms of dialogue. the all create spaces where the functional and symbolic coincide.
Redefining the ‘aesthetic’ are ‘enlivened being’ reveals the aesthetic as an ecological life process, and ‘art’ o be expanded practice that includes non-material processes and relates to all spheres of activity. Such works are, therefore, as much to do with consciousness work, soul-making and personal transformative work as they are to do with social process and natural environmental concerns.”