Monday, August 17, 2009

Claire Bishop and Joseph Beuys essays

Participation, Documents of Contemporary Art, and Edited by Claire Bishop.

Clair Bishop/ Viewers as Producers

“Brechtian theatre abandons long complex plots in favour of “situations” that interrupt the narrative through a disruptive element such as song. Through this technique of montage and juxtaposition, audiences, were led to break their identification with the protagonist on stage and be incited to critical distance. Rather than, presenting the illusion of action on stage and filling the audiences with sentiment. Brechtian theatre compels the spectator to take up a position towards this action.” (Bishop, Claire, Participation, page, 11)

The Brechtian model of theatre offers a relatively passive model of spectatorship, which relies on raising consciousness while still maintaining the fourth wall between performers and audience. I think this style of theatrical communication between community and artist is very effective in empowering the audience to participate by shifting thoughts, opinions, ideas, and feelings.

“The Left-wing German Theorist Walter Benjamin argued that when judging a works politics, we should not look at the artist’s declared sympathies, but at the position that the work occupies in the production relations of it’s time.” (Bishop, Claire, page, 11).

Guy Debord, co-founder of the Situationist International considers the capitalist “spectacle” as a social relationship between images that unite the audience only through separation from one another. Through “spectacle” there are at times big mediated images that stimulate our senses, but separates the audience in the action, thought, and expression of the material being presented. The audience watches and then leaves the theatre.

“ The spectacle is by definition immune from human activity, inaccessible to any projected review of correction. It is the opposite of dialogue. It is the sun that never sets on the empire of modern passivity. (Bishop, Claire, page, 12).

Claire Bishop talks about activation (audience participation), and Debord constructed this same label as “situations”. Debord took Breahtian one-step further by not only awakening critical consciousness as in the Brechtian mode, but also constructing situations that were aimed at producing new social relationships and revealing new social realities.

An important question in bringing participatory art to a place where the work is raising the consciousness, voice and possibly bridging the gap in communities where conflict can become creator and collaborator is: How do we as creative produces bring different cultures together to blend values, tradition, and respect for the diversity of a group? This includes situations between social classes and I want to add diverse cultures within cultures that exist in communities all over the United States.

The Bourgeois society has a reputation thought out history of feeding the separation not only between the Bourgeois and the proletariat in the work force but people and groups in the arts, their lifestyle, and self-identity as a citizens of a communities and society as a whole.

Joseph Beuys

I am Searching for Field Character/1973

“This most modern art discipline- Social Sculpture/Social Architecture-will only reach fruition when every living person becomes a creator, a sculptor or architect of the social organism. Only a conception of art revolutionized to this degree can turn into a politically productive force, coursing through each person and shaping history.” (Bishop, Claire, page, 12).

Joseph Beuys speaks of shaping history. Who better then to shape history then people from all walks of life, ages, and ethnic background. Beuy is very committed to the belief that every human being is an artist. In a social venue, this empowers people with self-determination and participation in respecting other cultures, which gives the capacity of tolerance and learning from one another. Could this approach of empowering individuals with a sense of creative ownership be what we are lacking in western civilization? Another question I have from reading Beuy’s essay is: How does democracy and capitalism merge?

I think that Participation Art can facilitate, empower and engage a community to strengthen their voices individually and communal, which insures that their choices, their freedom, and their creative citizenship is acknowledged and conflict can become a place of creative process. Integrating the professional artist with the amateur and using everyday activities and objects to blend artistic disciplines becomes an environment for democracy, collaboration and true community.

Yes, we can still have the boundaries that separate art form the public but why not blend the boundaries when it is needed to foster equal representation of all. The real challenge is when to use traditional methods and non-traditional methods in advocating change and aesthetic experiences.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Nancy!

    Good questions. You should include this in your packet to your advisor. Often, when I was reading, I was wondering how my work with "Music Man" fit into what was being discussed and often felt that theater was not what was being addressed in the book--in fact, the aesthetic was often trying to distance itself from theater. And yet theater can be very participatory! Still, it is good to see how other artists are thinking and working. :)