The social dimensions of participation provide the backdrop against which the different facets of subjectivity come into play.[1]

To participate in something is to cross the psychological boundaries between the self and other and to feel the defining social tensions of these boundaries.[2]

[1] Bishop, Claire, ‘Introduction’ in Participation, London: Whitechapel, 2006.

[2] Jeff Kelly ‘Introduction’ in Allan Kaprow, Essays on the Blurring of Art and Life, Berkeley: University of California, 1993, p.xxii.

Participation in art has become a prevalent and contested phenomenon since the 1990s and Nicolas Bourriaud’s book Relational Aesthetics (1998).  Participation involves the artist attempting to create works in which social relations play a key factor in the formation of the work and its meaning.  Participants are invited to actively join the dialogues and conversations within works, their social contexts and with one another.  Without the participants acting as subjects within the works and audiences viewing the works, these works would remain two-dimensional and disengaging.

Participantion has become an important factor since I realised its potential and potency whilst performing the work Chav at First Sight with collaborator Tom Goddard in 2010.  Audience reactions to the chavs in their midst ranged from suspicion to hostility generating, greatly informing and furthering the narratives within the piece far beyond what we as artists could have achieved alone.

Chav at First Sight Tom Goddard & Tiff Oben 2010

Antagonising audiences, provoking reaction, generating mythologies

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