Artists generally fall into two groups: the makers (of objects) and doers (of activities). They survive, more or less, on the largesse of the art world. And then there’s a third group, not creating objects exactly and not exactly performing activities, but working to change the way the doing of art gets done. Caroline Woolard is a member of this group. Yes, she makes objects, and yes, her work is informed by an understanding of social practice, but she takes that social practice out of the art world and grounds it in the practicalities of life—her life— along with anyone who’s willing to join her. Part of the appeal of her work is the invitation to join the idealized world she’s trying to create.
Idealized, in this case, is not the same as dreamy. With entrepreneurial gusto Woolard calls attention to injustice; and then, moving beyond that, she asks: How can we change a system that perpetuates injustice? For her it’s a real question, and to answer it she uses, first of all, collaboration. Her work is about the collaborative process and about empowerment. How can disenfranchised people have access to power? Her provisional answer is: by banding together. Woolard is a co-founder of OurGoods.org, a thriving digital meeting place where the exchange of goods
above: installation view of RESOURCES ( for EXCHANGE CAFÉ), 2013, tyvek, silkscreen, signature, currency exchange, performers, 2 ×6 inches. Courtesy of the artist and MoMA: Artists Experiment. Photo by Ryan Tempro.
right: WORK DRESS FOR BARTER ONLY, 2008– 2013, cotton- denim, barter agreement, dimensions variable. Courtesy of the artist. Photo by Martyna Szczesna.