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Performativity in the Gallery

Staging Interactive Encounters

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Edited By Outi Remes, Laura MacCulloch and Marika Leino

This book coincides with an increase in the programming of live art elements in many galleries and museums. Traditional art history has, however, been wary of live art’s interdisciplinarity and its tendency to encourage increased formal and conceptual risk taking. Time-based performances have challenged the conventions of documentation and the viewer’s access to the art experience. This book questions the canon of art history by exploring participation, liveness, interactivity, digital and process-based performative practices and performance for the camera, as presented in gallery spaces.
The essays present both academic research as well as case studies of curatorial projects that have pushed the boundaries of the art historical practice. The authors come from a wide range of backgrounds, ranging from curators and art producers to academics and practising artists. They ask what it means to present, curate and create interdisciplinary performative work for gallery spaces and offer cutting-edge research that explores the intricate relationship between art history, live and performing arts, and museum and gallery space.
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6. Participation in the Gallery: (Re)negotiating Contracts

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← 102 | 103 →KAIJA KAITAVUORI

6Participation in the Gallery: (Re)negotiating Contracts

Art practice that invites people to directly participate either in the making of the work or in its display has become more popular than ever as an artistic method in contemporary arts. It is not only a question of the audience participating in the dissemination and reception of art but also in the production of artworks: it is art dealing with people rather than objects and creating experiences rather than tangible artworks. How should we understand this art, how should we understand this as art? What are the right methods and tools to investigate it? What are the implications for institutions producing and exhibiting it?

Following a short introduction and examples of participatory art projects, this essay presents a typology that is created to help discern different types of participation in order to better analyse the challenges they present to academic research and museums. The second part deals with some of these challenges in more detail.

I will use four projects as examples. In Tino Sehgal’s This is so Contemporary at the 2005 Venice Biennale; as the visitor entered the room, the exhibition guards suddenly started singing and dancing around the visitor, chanting ‘Oh, this is so contemporary, contemporary!’ Erwin Wurm’s One Minute Sculptures consist of gallery visitors tucking empty bottles under their armpits, between their legs and into their mouths, or following other instructions written or drawn by the...

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