On 15th and 16th February 2011 at ISIS Arts in Newcastle a group of artists and practitioners all experienced in and concerned with methods of public engagement as part of their work gathered to examine practice and explore issues related to the field of participatory art.
Participation as a term has been chosen over others such as 'socially engaged', 'collaborative', 'dialogical', there is a long list, for its generality. What we might mean by participation is open to discussion and interpretation. The dictionary definition is 'the action of taking part in something'. Participation in this instance is also the participation of the people taking part in the lab.
The questions individuals in the group explored collectively included:
• What language/shared vocabulary can we as artist researchers find to adequately make tangible the engagement between artist and participant?
• How do we connect with others through making work which creates a dialogue?
• What makes us want to work in this way?
• What are the ethical issues?
• What is aesthetic in the participatory process?
• What does public involvement mean for the artist, the art and the participants?
• How can arts organisations best continue to support artists to make art?
• What does quality mean in participatory arts?
• Is creating the space for participatory arts practice an intrinsic part of the artform, and how does that process of 'space creation'relate to the creative practice of artists?
Participation Lab was been initiated by Jane Dudman, artist and digital media research student at Newcastle University, and has been developed through her collaboration with ISIS Arts. The partnership has been facilitated by One North East which supports research students to work with North East businesses.
Participants were: Sharon Bailey, David Butler, Rachel Clarke, Jane Dudman , Eleanor Farrington, Janey Hunt, Ben Jones, Isabel Lima, Toby Lowe, Kerry Morrison, Karen Scott, Alan Smith, Kate Stobbart
The lab was supported and funded by Culture Lab, Digital Media and Intersections at Newcastle University.