SENIOR FELLOW

Irit Rogoff

Senior Fellow from October 2010 - March 2011.

Research Project

 Looking Away - Participating Singularities,
Ontological Communities



The subject I am currently writing on is 'participation', the question of how to take part in culture beyond the roles and rituals that culture has allotted us; roles such as voters, census form fillers, jury members, demonstrators - or in the world of contemporary art in which I am involved - roles such as viewers, listeners, visitors - the different stratas that make up the notion of 'audience'.

Speaking from this particular moment I would characterise our situation as one in which a wide range of participatory models have been proposed by different practices; NGOs, Multitude politics, self organisation, modes of activism, free universities and academies, self education, think tanks both highly instrumentalised and self generated, community organising etc' (Bruno Latour, Michel Feher). In the contemporary art world of which I am part, for over 30 years, artists have been proposing modes of making the spaces they inhabit, spaces of participation and of moving us from being a passive to being an active mode of audience. However, these ever more complex ways by which we have shifted from ? What has the trajectory looked like? from critically conscious, to critically active, to completing the work, to becoming the work.
Deleueze says in "Difference and Repetition" that to participate is to lay a ground to a claim. And I would say that my entire 'Participation' project is in this spirit of laying a ground to a claim rather than to elaborate a set of strategies by which one intervenes.
In thinking of 'laying a ground to a claim' we need to engage notions of whether this is an individual or a collective enterprise? I am trying to think this in relation to the spaces, places and practices of contemporary art, thereby acknowledging that these are not isolated, specialized, particularized sites devoted to escaping the world and its woes through aesthetic contemplation and edification, but rather sites of alternative engagements which we do not yet know how to read or how to galvanise. I am more interested in the learning how to read part than in the learning how to galvanise part.
Over the past few years of thinking and writing about 'participation', I have been struck by just how much our terminology of 'art', 'exhibition', 'audience' etc’ fails to capture the emergent dynamics within the expanded field of art.
This project explores the different models of participation which we forge through affective regimes, sites of knowledge production and circulation, conversation and unexpected exchange, as well as the possible new vocabulary we need in order to work critically with it.