Organizing for Solidarity with Participative Art Pracitces

Alice Neusiedler

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Recently, we can observe an increasing interest in participative art practices to foster social change. Interaction has been emphasised as an artistic practice of social critique since the so-called “social turn” (Bishop 2006) and is increasingly funded after the “participatory turn” (Virolainen 2016) in European cultural policy strategies has been stated. Thus, strategies of how to include formerly excluded actors into art production has become an urgent topic when organizing for solidarity, both in theory and in practice (Sachs Olsen 2018; Ćalović 2015).
Despite the hope placed into participative art practices for their disruptive potential and promise of authentic insights into others’ perspectives, they have also been criticized for being a burden, a myth and for the lack of agency for participants. While critical perspectives point to relevant dilemmas for art collaboration, they were often motivated by a wish to dissolve differences between involved actors, and therefor unable to acknowledge the multiplicity of differences within these collaborations and unable to be attentive to different conditions in this artistic work process. To better understand challenges but also potential of this form of art collaboration, I explore how art collaboration practices lean on, integrate, but also are challenged by internal differences for a collective artwork.

My presentation is based on 20 open narratively informed interviews with artists and participants, and website images from participative art projects in the fields of fine arts, theatre and dance from Northern, Western, and Eastern Europe, such as a critical history project, an intervention in social housing, and a queer theatre production. Leaning on the Documentary Method (Bohnsack 2001), and with a practice-theoretical perspective (Nicolini 2012; Gherardi 2007) I explore their different strategies of organizing for solidarity. I will show how artists and participants construct alternative perspectives of artists, participants and the artwork when organizing for solidarity.
Original languageEnglish
Publication date2023
Publication statusPublished - 2023
EventXX ISA World Congress of Sociology: Resurgent Authoritarianism: The Sociology of New Entanglements of Religions, Politics, and Economies - Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre, Melbourne, Australia
Duration: 25 Jun 20231 Jul 2023
Conference number: 20


ConferenceXX ISA World Congress of Sociology
LocationMelbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre
Internet address

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