“It turned out to be a group of people who believe in participatory art and who believe in other people.”
18th October 2019, Bergen, Norway
in the occasion of the CtC -> CtI press conference and the discussion called “Some Say Participatory Art Has Failed. Why Do We Keep Doing It?”
“Some Say Participatory Art Has Failed. Why Do We Keep Doing It?” Is a title that is a little scary because today nobody wants to be a loser, but also motivating because it also testifies to perseverance. Of course, participatory art, like any other art form, has its pros and cons. Not all paintings are great either, and not all sculptures are as brilliant, as movies can be boring. So it was encouraging that there were people in Bergen who still believe in participatory art. Particularly beautiful was the presentation by Lali Pertenava, a curator from Georgia, who presented humorous and inspiring examples from Georgian practice. Working at the intersection of human everyday life that is sometimes depressing and art that seeks to distance itself from literal meaning is especially difficult, but sometimes these mergers produce noble results. What definitely does not go in favor of participatory art as art is its dependence on the present – while other art forms can hope to be positively evaluated in the future even if they are not understood in the present, there is no future for participatory art if it is not “recognized” in present. The phrase “now or never” really applies to her.
Bergen in the fall is the right place for dialogue on participatory art, and the Nordic-designed spoon is the right spoon for stirring coffee as we dialogue. Inspired by this beautiful spoon, after the conference I asked all participants to join me in a participatory performance. I asked them to fit in a horseshoe shape so we could see each other at any time. And then I explained to them that I would lick the Nordic designed beautiful spoon first, and then I would offer it first in line. And so I will lick the spoon after each of them to the last, and then from the last to the first, so that each of us will lick the spoon after all of us. I expected that most participants would give up, some for disgust and others for fear of contagion. Fortunately, I was wrong. Almost everyone stayed and participated in the performance. It turned out to be a group of people who believe in participatory art and who believe in other people.