Participation – what does it mean?
Drawing on my work in theater as well as on my research work as a cultural psychologist, I focus particularly on the phenomenological aspects of particiation, and in particular on its constitutive elements within theatrical situations. The latter mainly regard factors of perception, encounter, consciousnes and awareness. Furthermore, the factor of embodiement is essential.
I define participation in its most literal sense ans see it as a fundamental requirement for performance: If there is no audience, there is no performance. Just as there is no dialog, if there are no addressees. Or, following the logic further, if there are no role-models, there is no imitation.
As such participation can be understood as a prerequisite to interaction. However, at what point it comes to an interaction remains arbitrary. The theater theorist Erika Fischer-Lichte applies the notion of freedom to theater. She proposes that the spectator ain`t bound to a supreme objective, but can instead freely relate anything to everything during a performance. This follows the idea of „receiving is producing, watching is acting“ (1997:35). This would imply that watching is not a passive, receptive behaviour, but a constructive action.
Claire Bishop, professor of art history and known for her scientific research in the area of participative art, has shaped the meaning of „participatory art“ (Bishop 2012). She describes a turning point in the 1990s, from where on artists and audience were increasingly described as „coloborator and producer of situations“ and „co-producer or participant“ (2012:2) respectively.
As a cultural psychologist my interest ist to find out more about how we translate what stories. As an artist my interest is to explore possible settings and formats for stories chosen, enhancing key messages:
What stories are performed by whom?
Which ones aren`t?
How does performativity and performance relate to each other?
What roles do memories and renewals play?
Under the label „participating arts“ I further develop these thoughts within my projects, engage in scientific research and publish findings.
More information about the project description you find here: