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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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Conclusion: between image, act, body and language

Conclusion: between image, act, body and language

(p.136) Conclusion: between image, act, body and language
The gestures of participatory art

Sruti Bala

Manchester University Press

I have argued throughout this study that participatory art practices need to be understood in conjunction with the anxieties and contradictions that accompany them. Whether or not this is a formally constitutive characteristic worthy of naming as a genre is, in my view, less important than finding ways to account for and be responsive to the questions it poses. This is the place that this study departed from, yet oddly, it also the place it finds itself arriving at. For if this study has inquired into some of the conditions for and articulations of participation in the arts, it has also turned out to be an investigation of the ways in which participation is already circumscribed by the questions we ask of it, such as the social impact of participatory art, or its specific aesthetic features. The frictions in this endeavour will have become apparent to the perceptive reader: on the one hand I attempt to identify commonalities and systematic coherences in a field named as participatory art, and on the other hand I seek to analyse it in terms of its deviations from, and incommensurability with, a systematic narrative, in the emphasis of unruly, subtle, non-formalizable modes of participation. I treat participatory art as an inherited category, looking at its diverse, specific operations, or disciplinary routes and historical legacies. At the same time, I try to alter the terms of received wisdom by extrapolating principles and observations from the confines of one disciplinary arena into another. I search for ways in which affiliation to a given type of participatory practice might be described, only to find that formal coherences are perforated by aspects that exceed those same terms of affiliation. The analysis of participatory art and the conceptualization of participation in and through art thereby become intertwined in complex ways....

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