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The gestures of participatory art$
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Sruti Bala

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9781526100771

Published to Manchester Scholarship Online: January 2019

DOI: 10.7228/manchester/9781526100771.001.0001

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Vicarious gestures of participation

Vicarious gestures of participation

(p.99) 4 Vicarious gestures of participation
The gestures of participatory art

Sruti Bala

Manchester University Press

Chapter IV follows two conceptually inspired performance projects by the Amsterdam-based Lebanese artist Lina Issa, Where We Are Not (2009) and If I Could Take Your Place? (2010 – ongoing). These works explore the question of what it means to take someone else’s place, to participate in someone’s life by doing something on their behalf, in the mode of ‘as if’. By analysing how this vicarious participation unfolds, the chapter foregrounds the spectatorial parameters of participation. The theorization of participation calls for an interweaving of the aesthetic with the social or political. Issa’s playful performances of standing in for others point to larger questions of what it means to participate in collective processes of imagining selfhood. The chapter suggests that the solidarity in the gesture of vicarious participation lies not so much in recognizing the so-called ‘other’ or in celebrating differences, but rather in being willing to dispossess oneself of the fixity of one’s ideas of the self, a potentially transformative gesture.

Keywords:   invitational performance, immersive performance, gesture, Gestus, theatricality, spectatorship

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