Why Participatory Art?

Why Participatory Art?

About and Around Curating project, exhibition We are waiting for you, gallery of Belgrade Youth Center, 2013.


As one of the archivists of They: Live project, I’m working on the digital archive that will eventually be uploaded on the Topoteka website and available to the general public. We’re collecting material - mostly photographs and personal stories - from former and current students in Podgorica, Montenegro, in the period after WWII that will serve as research material for the forthcoming Artist in Residence program. Being an art curator, this is the part I am very interested in

Our plan is to select the artists through open calls. Apart from making the whole process more transparent, we could actually have a chance to get to know new people, out of our own social and professional bubble, as our colleague Kristina Leko framed it. We are also open if any of our partner organizations have someone already in mind to suggest. Whoever the candidates may be, they will go through the same selection criteria and a jury process. We came up with this hybrid plan because there are differences in the artworld in each of the partner countries. Contemporary art is already just a part of the overall art world, and with our focus on participatory arts, the target group is very small.

Maybe to explain why participatory art - a type of art that is community-oriented, creating art based on social interactions and context. In short, art with and for the given community. We recognized - individually and based on SCCC’s previous experience - that this artform is ideal to foster interaction with the student population (and newly developed digital student archives), creating a sort of an outreach program by the universities and cultural centers. At the moment, it is an experiment, yes, but it could become a model with a given set of ideals and practices that these institutions - in Belgrade, Madrid, Rijeka and Podgorica - could implement in their future work. And when I say ideals, I am referring to establishing true collaboration with the students, who are not just passive consumers but potential participants and even authors, to use more constructively and productively the resources available at these campuses. Or even creating new, better infrastructure, if the present one is not sufficient. We are building better relationships with the audience, but also becoming more in tune with the contemporary challenges.

Soon you will be able to find the open calls on our website. We will be evaluating not just one’s experience, but also potential. After all, creating a detailed proposal based on human interaction, an unknown archive and at a new location is simply not possible. Therefore, we will ask ourselves: is the given draft or idea doable and in line with our core ideals? Is it based on student participation and interaction? Will it take into consideration the digital archive on student lives we’re building? We hope that until June we will have artistic teams selected and pave the way for the Artist in Residence program in the first part of 2022!

Author: Srđan Tunić, Institute of Contemporary Art - ISU (Cetinje, Montenegro)



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