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The Politics of Participation and Collaboration in Contemporary Art

Organizing Committee:


In this class we will look at the predominant discourses and arguments around participation, collaboration and social practice(s) in contemporary art. We will start with a comparative reading of Claire Bishop and Grant Kester and then expand the conversation to other contemporary thinkers who deal with similar issues (Shannon Jackson, Gregory Sholette, etc.).

Initial reading list:


berlinese's picture

Hi all,

Sorry for any cross postings. I'm sending this out to the class list from
the first group looking at participation in contemporary art, because not
everyone from that list is signed up for the second class. If you never
made it to a class, or just to one, you can still come for the first time.

For those of you that weren't there last Saturday, we just 'finished' the
second round of classes at The Public School, and decided to keep meeting
regularly while there is interest, even though the Saturday time-slot has
another class running at the moment.

We suggested using a google group to organise this, and can propose another
class at the public school soon. In the meantime, we have several places we
can meet: ZK/U Berlin (proposed by Miryana, a big space in Moabit), Orion's
flat, and Diego's (both in Kreuzberg). The next meeting will be this Sunday
28th at Diego's. More info (address, time, texts, topics, ideas, etc) will
be posted/discussed in the Google Group.

We opened a Google Group to keep in contact, so if you want to keep updated
just send Diego an email asap: . So far twelve people
already joined (almost everyone who was there last class).

We can use the google group to lay out what we should do over the next few

See you soon!



I don't expect we'll get to this necessarily but I uploaded it for the group anyway because I found it useful personally. I was asked at the planning meeting what I would say if someone told me that participatory art had challenges because in light of the "autonomy" of the artwork. I think "autonomy" is a distraction. in this interview (which, mind you, has other problems of its own) Brian Massumi makes a shift away from the idea of "autonomy" to one of "semblances".

Best wishes,


Kristy Baltezore's picture

Bummer. Would love to chat in via Internet but that's just too early for me. Keep me posted on progress.


berlinese's picture

just a reminder, in case anyone is interested in the new class and overlooked it

***you need to add yourself to the newly scheduled classes to get the updated information about them***

the continuation of this class has been scheduled, starting this saturday 6th april in archive books at 2.

see you there!

berlinese's picture

Hi Diego and all,
Thanks so much for taking the initiave to keep the class going. As it was
my first experience, I just wanted to give some feedback.

I'd really encourage those who came to the first meeting, or who expressed
an interest online, to come to the new meetings that being are organised!

A nice aspect to the previous classes seemed to be that at every meeting
there were new people, which (I felt) kept the level of respect quite high!
In groups like these its important that there aren't too many insiders, and
this seems to be working here. Well done TPS!

hi, the proposal for the continuation of the class is now online:

if the class doesn't get organized on time for next saturday, i
propose we meet anyway so we don't miss another week. we could do it
at my place, also in kreuzberg.

class about self-sufficiency sounds great - i'll try to make it.


Hi Everyone,

I am sorry I missed the last two meetings, but I was not in Berlin. I wanted to thank you all, it was a great class. I am definetelly up for a continuation! I wanted to share this video from Chto Delat, which critisizes how the idea of autonomous art is seen today (which is a topic we also touched at some point) and how the idea of 'live art' is being misused by the institutions today:

The coming wednesday I m giving a masterclass at Supermarkt. It is about self-sufficiency, but the system will be built collectivelly. Come by if you are interested, or perhaps I will have the chance to present it to you in the following class and go a bit more in debth on the aspect of collectivity of this project.

Hi Heather,

The Deleuze quote I found here:
For me personally a future meeting date would be Sat 6th April - ? Since
I'll be the UK for two weeks.
I think Diego was thinking the sat before that...

As for the Wedding performance, I was going to try to get a ticket for the
9th April. I'll get back to you on that.

Ok, it seems that my proposal is awaiting approval due to spam issues in the site. Anyway, I copy it below:

After the last meeting of "The Politics of Participation..." we thought it would be great to continue this class in some way, since many things remain to be discussed. The following points are things we could focus on:

1) Alternative definitions of the idea of "participation", both in art and politics. This is Bishop's definition in Artificial Hells, which seemed problematic for some people:

"This book is [...] organized around a definition of participation in which people constitute the centrar artistic medium and material, in the manner of theater or performance. [...] The artists I discuss below are less interested in a relational aesthetic than in the creative rewards of participation as a politicised working process."

And by "politicised" she probably refers to Rancière's understanding of politics as a practice of dissensus (which in any case is not the way I think of politics, especially because the dichotomy consensus/dissensus doesn't help me to take account of essential aspects of the political. So if we have time it'd be also interesting to check out not only alternative definitions of participation, but also other definitions of politics.)

2) Let's experience and experiment participation. We can take part in participatory pieces and think about the experience afterwards. We can eventually contact the authors of the pieces we take part in and talk with them about their work. We can come up with our own participatory artistic practice, try to realize it and discuss the results.

3) Let's make more of the 10-min individual presentations about participatory pieces + discussions. We did that in the last two meetings and it was quite interesting, but more people wanted to present works and we ran out of time. People can present their own work or works by other artists.

4) Think of pedagogic projects. We read chapter 9 of Artificial Hells, which talks about that, but we spent that meeting mostly talking about documentation. We could try this time to focus on the topic.

I think each point deserves at least two meetings. And since most of the meetings we had were around 3 hours long, we could settle 3 hours as the formal duration of each meeting.

Please feel free to add other points, edit the ones I wrote here, correct my poor English, etc.

Hi Orion,

did you post the link for the deleuze quote somewhere too? i'd be
interested in reading it.

i'm not sure exactly what kind of response about your work you'd like. but
i'll let you know if i think of anything.

I'm interested in checking out this performance in wedding too.

Is there a proposal for a future meeting date?

cheers, heather



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