Tiffany Singh is a social practice artist focused on communal well-being. She talks health, sustainable communities, and realistic negotiations with a three-year-old.
What role does the artist have in society?
As a social practice artist, the role I see the arts playing today responds directly to the needs of the community the work is created for. Providing a platform to bring diverse voices into a work of art and enabling the process to be as crucial as the outcome. We have the potential to foster unique art and social impact outcomes to facilitate a vital and necessary arts alliance between the arts, health, and education. As noted in the He Ara Oranga report, arts and creativity are recognised as important to mental health and wellbeing, and as artists we can play a critical role in the wellbeing of our communities.
How does your work comment on current social or political issues?
By working within the field of sustainable community outreach and exploring engagement in the arts. This helps me to focus on expanding research within the social sciences, with a direct focus on heath and education. I hope the work plays a role in humanising the politicisation of many social ills within Aotearoa at this time.
I am currently involved in developing the birth of Te Ora Auaha: Creative Wellbeing Alliance we are articulating the space where the arts, health and well-being intersect. Located within the emerging ‘creative well-being’ sector, it will be used to describe the use of arts and creativity with the explicit intention of achieving health and well-being goals. Through the alliance, we hope to influence emerging policy and practice contexts within New Zealand as we attempt to draw together a fragmented field of practice and generate innovative and sustainable new ways of working across sectors.
What research do you do?
My interest in ethnomedical traditions is namely, their performative aspects. By ‘performative aspects’ I mean the ritual and sensual dimensions of the healing process. This is inclusive in the consideration around how political issues such as nationalism, gender equality, and the treatment of minority groups are shaped by sensory practices and metaphors.
The research component of my practice delves into what accounts for the historical and cultural shifts in the sensory profile of art, by looking at how willing museums, galleries, and art institutions are to accommodate a growing interest in the non-visual senses in regard to health and education outcomes. My NZ-based research aims to show how social practice art engagement can connect with and contribute to the international arts and health movement to facilitate international learning, collaborations, and exhibitions to showcase how the arts and creativity are a vital part of our well-being and humanity.
What quote or saying do people say that you think is complete BS?
‘You only live once.’ As a Buddhist, it’s the complete antithesis of our philosophy on life.
What’s the most interesting thing you’ve read this week? A Restless Art, How Participation Won, and Why it Matters by Francois Matarasso. It shows how participation has become normalised art practice and policy in the course of the past 20 years. Whilst coverings topics such as the normalization, art of, and ethics of participatory art as well as community art and the cultural revolution. It’s such a timely publication for me.
Where were you 3 hours ago?
In the trenches of nappies and 8-week-old baby milk spill, trying to negotiate realistic expectations with a three-year-old to get to preschool on time.