CfP: A Forum on the Art of Participation

A Forum on the Art of Participation: What are the Aesthetics of Taking Part?

7th – 8th May 2016
Jarman Building, Canterbury campus, University of Kent

Deadline for proposals: 16th March 2016

If you would like to take part then please send

  • A short statement expressing the reasons for your interest
  • A bit about your background
  • A proposal of your contribution to the conversation (such as a workshop, short presentation, a set of questions you would like to discuss, a scratch or fully-formed performance, or something else).


All this should be no more than 500 words in total and should include any technical requirements for your contribution. There is a small production budget, so if your proposal includes any material costs then please include a breakdown of these with your statement. Send your submission to Decisions will be made with a view to creating a diverse conversation with a wide variety of contributions.

Are you tired of participatory art’s value being measured by social impact? Are you excited by the idea of exploring the aesthetic experience of taking part? Especially if we’ll be ‘doing’ participation rather than just talking about it? Well, come and join in!

Although social impact is undoubtedly important, there is a lot more to participation than a benefit agenda. Participatory practices foreground the embodied experience of taking part, a degree of agency, and interpersonal relationships.

This forum will refocus the dialogue surrounding participation onto its aesthetics and take a participatory approach to exploring what it feels like and what it means to take part. Why are we drawn to this kind of work, either as makers or participants (or both)? And how can we ask better questions about participation?

We would like to invite you to participate in a conversation, but one which is not exclusively verbal, about the value, meaning and experience of participatory practice. This two-day event will take a practice-as-research approach and offer a range of talks, provocations, dialogue, workshops and performances, all contributed by you, us, and other participants. We are aiming for a diverse, interdisciplinary group that includes artists, postgrads, audiences, academics, and anyone interested in participation.

Questions that might be interesting to explore during this event include (but are not limited to):

  • How is the embodied nature of participation related to the aesthetic experience – how does the ‘doing’ matter in this experience?
  • How does agency inform the meaning-making processes of participation?
  • How does participation inhabit the in-between spaces – between performers and participants, artefacts and people, reality and fiction?
  • What is the relationship between aesthetics and affect in participatory experience?
  • What are the relationships between aesthetics and intersubjectivity in participatory work? Is
    it necessary, or even possible, to separate the aesthetic experiences of artists and participants?
  • How can we place value on the aesthetic aspects of applied practices in addition to their social impact?
  • What are the relationships between ethics and aesthetics in participatory practices?

Keynote do-er: Tassos Stevens (Director of Coney)
Keynote responder: Gareth White (Reader in Theatre and Performance at Central School of Speech and Drama)

Organisers: Astrid Breel, Hannah Newman, and Robbie Wilson

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