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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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Delicate gestures of participation

Delicate gestures of participation

(p.115) 5 Delicate gestures of participation
The gestures of participatory art

Sruti Bala

Manchester University Press

Chapter V examines an installation-based project titled Nomad City Passage (2005-2009) by the German scenographic and visual artists Rebekka Reich and Oliver Gather, in which visitors are invited to spend a night in a tent in an unconventional urban site, such as the top floor of a high-rise building or inside a shopping mall. The analysis focuses on how common-sense assumptions around audience participation in theatre and performance theory are called into question by the artwork’s foregrounding of sleep as a mode of participation. The delicacy of this is evidenced in the ambivalence of sleep in a scenically prepared setting, oscillating between being an intense, active, dynamic experience on the one side, and a non-performance, an absence of activity on the other. The chapter suggests that audience participation in the artwork and in the artwork’s participation in urban spaces differ in significant ways from sociological and political concepts of participation. Where social theory conceives of civic participation in terms of being a part of a social unit, the aesthetics of Nomad City Passage emphasizes participation in a counterintuitive way: it becomes possible to participate precisely because of not being a part of some shared community ideal.

Keywords:   installation, visual participatory art, participatory urban intervention, performance documentation, sleep

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