Disclaimer (?): The following essay is an exercise in pastiche and plagiarism. None of the words contained therein are written by me. However, it is my ‘original’ creation – one that I claim authorship over. The concept for this work came out of ideas put forwarded in many texts on adaptation, appropriation, collage, montage, and parody, but draws specifically on the critical validity of pastiche and plagiarism put forth by writers Sarah Smith and Gregory Ulmer. This essay is not a ‘cop-‐out’, a lazy pastiche too dull to achieve the status of parody, but a critical text which aims to analyze and critique authorship in participatory art practices, using Claire Bishop edited collection of essays, Participation, as its core text . "The selection of texts...is not itself random but…a major part of the critical statement." (Ulmer 2002 ) At times, I found this project incredibly challenging. First of all, as teeth-‐grindingly frustrating as writing can be, not allowing myself to use any of my own words has made me realize how much I take this power of expression for granted. Second, it is hard to break from the traditions you’re raised with; from high school onwards, my teachers drummed into my head a mantra of correct academic writing (which, if I may say so, has served me very well thus far) 1. Make sure you always cite your sources 2. Don’t use too many quotes 3. Introduce a quote in your own words, then explain it and/or its significance (in your own words) to your argument or sub-‐argument 4. Go beyond your research – don’t just restate, create The only one of these treasured commandments I’ve allowed myself recourse to is the last. Perhaps in several years such a disclaimer won’t be necessary. Part of me resents having to include it at all – I am trying to post-‐criticize here! While I have explicitly defended my reasons for creating the essay I have, I won’t make the actual thesis of the essay explicit. Hopefully, that is to the work’s (as well as the reader’s and my own) benefit. Please note that the citations, including citation styles, and images used in this essay should also be considered as further support for its thesis.
“The way that I use projects, material, and writings in order to develop a theory… could be compared to the way certain archives are structured; not like a library, but an accumulation of different species of knowledge and matter congregated in a single (physical) container.” (Miessen 2010) ___________ “From where do form and content derive?” (Cufer 1996) “We are not interested in making definitive evaluations or declarative statements, but in creating situations that offer our chosen subject as a complex and open-‐ended issue.” (Group Material 1990) “For it will be completed by the presence of people and a programme of events.” (Nesbit, Obrist, Tiravanija 2003) “…Kester describes the increasing tendency towards collaborations and suggests that ‘these interactions begin to erode the romantic image of the artist as solitary genius, positing instead a guild-‐like community of co-‐creators.’” (Gere & Corres 2008) “The primary motive for (Transnacionala) was to organize an international art project to take pace outside established international institutional networks, without intermediaries, without a curator-‐formulated concept…” (Cufer 1996) “…a de-‐authored lineage that aims to embrace collective creativity….constructive and ameliorative.” (Bishop 2006) “…the experiences of sharing, commonality and self-‐transcendence turn out to be more intense and significant, in some ways, than the postmodernist categories most of us art-‐types bring to aesthetic experience. This is important to me because I don’t believe those categories should be the sole arbiters of aesthetic evaluation.” (Piper 1983-‐85) “Each of the four exhibitions that we installed at 77 Wooster Street reiterated the interrelatedness of our subjects and the necessity of our collaborative process. Our working method might best be described as painfully democratic: because so much of our process depends on the review, selection and critical juxtaposition of innumerable cultural objects, adhering to a collective process is extremely time-‐consuming and difficult. However, the shared learning and ideas produce results that are often inaccessible to those who work alone.” (Group Material 1990) “Our exhibitions and projects are intended to be forums in which multiple points of view are represented in a variety of styles and methods. We believe, as the feminist writer bel hooks has said, the ‘we must focus on a policy of inclusion so as not to mirror oppressive structures.’ As a result, each exhibition is a veritable model of democracy.
Mirroring the various forms of representation that structure our understanding of culture, our exhibitions bring together so-‐called fine art with products from supermarkets, mass-‐cultural artifacts with historical objects, actual documentation with homemade projects. We are not interested in making definitive evaluations or declarative statements, but in creating situations that offer our chosen subject as a complex and open-‐ended issue. We encourage greater audience participation through interpretation.” (Group Material 1990) “…’participatory’…’collaborative’, two terms that are often, but should not be, conflated. The essential gap between ‘participation’ and ‘collaboration’ explicitly relates to authorial rights, and the lack of influence participants (as opposed to collaborators) exert over key structural features of the work. As Dave Beech points out, the participant typically is not cast as an agent of critique or subversion but rather as one who is invited to accept the parameters of the art project. To participate in an event, whether it is organized by Rirkrit Tiravanija, Jeremy Deller, Santiago Sierra or Johanna Billing, is to enter a pre-‐established social environment that casts the participant in a very specific role.” (Browne 2008) “From where do form and content derive?” (Cufer 1996) “The gesture of ceding some or all authorial control is conventionally regarded as more egalitarian and democratic than the creation of a work by a single artist, while shared production is also seen to entail the aesthetic benefits of greater risk and unpredictability. Collaborative creativity is therefore understood both to emerge from, and to produce, a more positive and non-‐hierarchical social model.” (Bishop 2006) “Conventional models of participation are based on inclusion and assume that it goes hand in hand with the social-‐democratic protocol of everyone’s voice having an equal weight within egalitarian society. Usually, in the simple act of proposing a structure or situation in which this bottom-‐up inclusion is promoted, the political actor or agency that proposes it will most likely be understood as a “good-‐doer.”” (Miessen 2010) “It’s…difficult…to define how and with what complications…communication really took place. The success of communication by individuals largely coming from spaces and times separate, as to both culture and experience, depends primarily on the skill of the individuals and groups wishing to communicate – their skill at playing a role within the structure of the dialogue.” (Cufer 1996) “…erode the romantic image … instead a guild-‐like community of co-‐creators.’” (Gere & Corres 2008)
“We are not interested in making definitive evaluations or declarative statements...” (Group Material 1990) “The metaphysics of this idea of free space is a metaphysics of indeterminacy. This metaphysics of free public space is opposed to the metaphysics of a structured social and political body, organized into and structured by different positions, functions, and identities in terms of race, gender, profession, and class…Space has been appropriated in order to empty it out, to present it as empty, open for everybody. It is a polemical or negative use of public space that presents the positivity of this communal space as such…The most important aspect is the de-‐functionalization of urban space: the interruption of the usual order of business, transport, work, and specialization. But it is also the interruption of the stratified, hierarchical order of a class society: the positions individuals inhabit in the social order are suspended.” (Hirsch 2006) “The space will be closed from the outside world and mobile phones, radios or TVs will not be allowed. This is to emphasize the group aspect of the experiment and to create a structure in which the ‘step-‐out’ can be done commonly. The necessary infrastructure (furniture, food, sanitary installations, safety) will be provided, but it is refrained from providing a programme or methods to entertain (people are free to bring what they like). Basically, the experiment will be able to see what happens under these conditions; people are freed from their usual constraints, and yet confined to a space and a time.” (Höller 2000).
“But surely one this art can still do is take a stand, and to do this in a concrete register that brings together the aesthetic, the cognitive, and the critical. And formlessness in society might be a condition to contest rather than to celebrate in art – a condition to make over into form for the purposes of reflection and resistance.” (Foster 2004) “In order to make decisions within any given collaborative structure, network, or institution, conflicts can ultimately only be overcome and turned into practice if someone assumes responsibility.” (Miessen 2010) “It’s necessary to try and be responsible for something which I can take responsibility for.” (Hirschhorn 2004) “…Tiravanija presents a discussion of his work in the third person.” (Bishop 2006) “From where do form and content derive?” (Cufer 1996) “We can smell the sent of a steaming pot of jasmine rice, with its very distinct combination of water and the perfume of jasmine…. Sunlight pours in from an October afternoon, and already we feel the compression of the gallery lifted from our shoulders…As one sits down for the bowl (white enamel with blue rimes) of food, one begins to realize that this a distinctively different experience from others we have had in an art gallery or with art.” (Tiravanija 2004) “I want to make an experience…. I want the public to be transformed by the experience…I want the public to appropriate…I wand the public to be active, participate.... I want the public to confront what is important…I don’t want the public to understand. I want the public to seize the power.” (Hirschhorn 2004) “Once again, the reintroduction of food as the key element in the approach of the work is central. In tandem with this element Tiravanija makes references to the core ideas of conceptual art that question the idealism behind the relevance of authorship and authenticity.” (Tiravanija 2004) “…on a technical level, most contemporary art is collectively produced (even if authorship often remains resolutely individual).” (Bishop 2006)
“…undo the innocence of participation.” (Meissen 2010) “’The question’, Huyghe argues, ‘is less “what?” than “to whom?” It becomes a question of address’. Bourriaud also sees art as ‘an ensemble of units to be reactivated by the beholder-‐manipulator’. In many ways this approach is another legacy of the Duchampian provocation, but when is such ‘reactivation’ too great a burden to place on the viewer, too ambiguous a test? As with previous attempts to involve the audience directly (in some abstract painting or some conceptual art) there is a risk of illegibility here, which might reintroduce the artist as the principal figure and the primary exegete of the work. At times, ‘the death of the author’ has meant not ‘the birth of the reader’, as Roland Barthes speculated, so much as the befuddlement of the viewer.” (Foster 2004) “We don’t use the word ‘practice’ lightly – it’s as if the artist were a doctor administering the viewer with a dose of opiate to cure all maladies.” (Tiravanija 2004) “More modestly, these artists aim to turn passive viewers into a temporary community of active interlocutors. (Foster 2004)
“…participation is often read through romantic notions of negotiation, inclusion, and democratic decision-‐making. However, it is precisely this often-‐unquestioned mode of inclusion…that does not produce significant results, as criticality is challenged by the concept of the majority.” (Meissen 2010) “We are not interested in making definitive evaluations or declarative statements, but in creating situations that offer our chosen subject as a complex and open-‐ended issue.” (Group Material 1990) “…the self-‐reflexive preoccupation with the identity and status of artist, curator and institution plays on the symbolic negation of these positions, but paradoxically can only do so only by sustaining them in practice. The dramatization of the self-‐reflexive defers endlessly any critical debate on the actual, cultural potential and quality of definable artwork…” (Charlesworth 2006) “…Whereas social dance in white culture is often viewed in terms of achievement, social grace or competence, or spectator-‐oriented entertainment, it is a collective and participatory mean so f self-‐transcendence and social union in black culture along many dimensions, and so is often much more fully integrated into daily life. Thus it is based on a system of symbols, cultural meanings, attitudes and patterns of movement that one must directly experience in order to understand fully...My immediate aim in staging the large-‐scale performance (preferably with sixty people or more) was to enable everyone present to GET DOWN AND PARTY. TOGETHER…. I began by
introducing some of the basic dance movements to the audience, and discussing their cultural and historical background, meanings, and the roles they play in black culture… The aim was to transmit and share a physical language that everyone was then empowered to use…. We were all engaged in the pleasurable process of self-‐transcendence and creative expression within a highly structured and controlled cultural idiom, in a way that attempted to overcome cultural and racial barriers.” (Piper 1985) “…This revealing of one’s self within the work is an important legacy of postcolonial and feminist discourses that deemphasize and exaggerate the historical construction of artistic persona.” (Gillick 2006) “Participating in the system doesn’t mean that we must identify with it, stop criticizing it, or stop improving the little piece of turf on which we operate” (Wright, cited by Group Material 1990)
Works Cited Bishop, Claire. Participation, Documents of Contemporary Art. London: Whitechapel, 2006. Browne, Sarah. "Crowd Theory Lite the Crowd in Participatory Art and Pop Economics." CIRCA 126, no. Winter (2008): 33-‐39. Charlesworth, J.J. "Curating Doubt." Art Monthly, 2006. Cufer, Eda. (1996) "Transnacionala A Journey from the East to the West." In Participation, edited by Claire Bishop, 138-‐143. London: Whitechapel, 2006. Foster, Hal. (2004) "Chat Rooms." In Participation, edited by Claire Bishop, 138-‐ 143. London: Whitechapel, 2006. Gere, Charlie & Corris, Michael. Non-‐Relational Aesthetics. Edited by Ben & Kivland Hillwood-‐Harris, Sharon. Vol. 13, Transmission: The Rules of Engagement: Artwords Press, 2008. Gillick, Liam and Bishop, Claire. "Letters and Responses." October 115, no. Winter (2006): 95-‐107. Group Material (1990) "On Democracy." In Participation, edited by Claire Bishop, 135-‐137. London: Whitechapel, 2006. Hirschhorn, Thomas. (2004) "24h Foucault." In Participation, edited by Claire Bishop, 138-‐143. London: Whitechapel, 2006. Hirsch, Michael. (2006) "The Space of Community: Between Culture and Politics." In Did Someone Say Participate?, edited by Markus Miessen and Shumon Basar, 290-‐304. Cambridge, Massachusetts: MIT Press, 2006. Höller, Carsten. (2000) "The Baudoin/Boudewijn Experiment: A Deliberate, Non-‐ Fatalistic, Large-‐Scale Group Experiment in Deviation." In Participation, edited by Claire Bishop, 144-‐145. London: Whitechapel, 2006. Miessen, Markus. The Nightmare of Participation : [Crossbench Practice as a Mode of Criticality]. New York: Sternberg Press, 2010. Nesbit, Molly, Obrist, Hans-‐Ulrich, and Tiravanija, Rirkrit. (2003) "What is a Station?" In Participation, edited by Claire Bishop, 138-‐143. London: Whitechapel, 2006.
North, Ryan. "Comic2-‐2056." Web comic. www.qwantz.com, 2011. ———. "Comic2-‐2282." Web comic. www.qwantz.com, 2012. ———. "Comic2-‐2306." Web comic. www.qwantz.com, 2012. Piper, Adrian(1983-‐85) "Notes on Funk, I-‐II, 1983-‐85.” In Participation, edited by Claire Bishop, 130-‐134. London: Whitechapel, 2006. Plagiarism: Art as Commodity and Strategies for Its Negation. Edited by Stewart Home. Aporia Press, 1987. Tiravanija, Rirkrit. (2004) "No Ghosts in the Wall." In Participation, edited by Claire Bishop, 149-‐153. London: Whitechapel, 2006. Smith, Sarah. "Lip and Love: Subversive Repetition in the Pastiche Films of Tracey Moffatt." Screen 49, no. 2 (2008): 209-‐15. Ulmer, Gregory L. "The Object of Post-‐Criticism." In The Anti-‐Aesthetic: Essays on Postmodern Culture, edited by Hal Foster, 83-‐110. New York: The New Press, 2002.