Claire Bishop / Participation


Participation is a bundle that comprises around twenty must-read essays if you’re interested in relational aesthetics, or desperately yearn for theoretical background on site-specific and communicative forms of art.

With essays by philosophers, theorists, artists such as Umberto Eco, Jean-Luc Nancy, Felix Guattari, Guy Debord, Adrian Piper etc it takes the above subjects by the roots. Most of the essays are known for me from footnotes in books such as One place after another by Miwon Kwon, Conversation Pieces by Grant Kester and Relational Aesthetics by Nicolas Bourriaud.

A short glimpse of what I’ve consumed sofar:
The Poetics of the Open Work by Umberto Eco beautifully describes the opening of modern music not only for interpretation (as the performer of classical music can choose how to play a piece), but also the way modern pieces are written to be completed or entirely altered by the performer and the audience.
The inoperative community by Jean-Luc Nancy investigates the possibilities of a coherent community that doesn’t ‘essentialise’ its members and enables differentiation and personal freedom.

Furthermore: Felix Guattari on art as a ‘process of becoming’; in Notes on funk Adrian Piper analyses a project in which she taught white people to dance funk; Rirkrit Tiravanija, Joseph Beuys, Hal Foster and many more…

Claire Bishop (editor), Participation, Documents of Contemporary Art, 2006, MIT Press, Cambridge
ISBN 0-85488-147-6

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4 Responses to “Claire Bishop / Participation”


  1. 1 selinkocagoncu March 5, 2010 at 3:24 pm

    actually, if relational art is something you’re intersted in, Whitechapel Gallery’s documents of contemporary art series offer more that “participation” to read.

    “the everyday” “utopias” “situation” and even “design and art”

    only one essay is repeated twice (“What is a station?”).

    and all of the books are great reads.

    take it from a thesis-writer on microtopias.

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