Contemporaneous Extension

How to Participate, Not Regurgitate

An extremely insightful article that I helped edit by Federica Bueti, an Italian curator based in Berlin, was put up today on Art&Education. I’ve worked with her a few times before digitally and thoroughly enjoy her inquiries into time-lapse work, process, and the politics of art. This newest article, entitled  “Give Me the Time (for an Aesthetic of Desistance),” investigates participation in art and its evolution from the 1960s to today: is participation still an act of resistance within the traditions of art? Has the socio-political environment completely neutralized participation and its aim to challenge participants and spectators? Has participation just become an institutionalized, almost predictable and thus stagnant, form of art practice? Here’s a small excerpt from the full article:

“But in order to establish a different meaning for participation, we should perhaps reconsider current cultural attitudes and social behaviors. Time, for example, needs to be re-introduced into current artistic, critical and curatorial production. Not as an oscillation of time, but as a “spatialization of the subject”. Against the backdrop of contemporary virtual and physical progress, one could oppose the necessity of durational experience and the sense of prolonged time that resists rapid consumptionExperience is comprised of time spent as well as a space of experience and shared intensities. Time is an essential element in participatory practices. Diverse knowledge and exchanges, and fruitful long-term relations require not just physical time but steadfast consistency. Endured duration is particularly vital in the context of virtual-communications. The reason is quite simple: people don’t share the same level of understanding or sensitivity, and a model of learning, exchanging and developing relationships varies extensively. Speed of pace is different for everyone. We cannot wish for the contrary without surrendering to the trap of authoritarian vision.

Adopting a creative model based on collaboration does not only mean maximizing outcomes or saving economic resources. People should revel in the space and allow for participation, discussion, and confrontating beliefs and modes of thinking. Only then can operative possibilities for transforming the acquired knowledge into operative models of actions unfold. A space of conflict where dissimilarities can play out and subsequently be used rather than liquidated at the first mention of a discrepancy is essential.

We should not forget that collaborations have become a necessity for the growth and implementation of profits in the capital industry. Today managerial agendas abide by more complex yet malleable democratic models. Groups can be identified through their representative members, for example, which spurs homogenization and the dissolution of the individuals ultimately relied upon for the decision. Participation, under the guise of performance, is constantly compromised. It accepts the conditions for the benefit of others, further perpetuating the current illusory, consensual democratic trend. Any partnership in this context becomes a tool for pursuing individual interests at the expense of potentially collective achievements.”


((Federica Bueti is also the founder of MENT , a journal that explores contemporary culture, art, and politics.))


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