Exploratory Project: Week Six (Gift to audience/exchange)

My Tutorials with Caroline and Angela were rich in discussion about finding an audience and their importance in a participatory project. I am aiming to expand on how to connect with an audience and thinking about how to bring/keep the audience with me over time.

By being clear and consistent about how an audience can find out about my work/what I am doing through social media and the website component of this project, I will be able to build an audience that can grow with me. Ideally, down the line, I could track their feedback or capture engagement in some way. This would be useful to find out who the audience really is and what demographics participate, and to pinpoint audiences that are harder to capture. This information will lead to the audience expand/evolve a non-arts audience, by finding external networks to tap into and work on special projects with already existing specific groups.

To grow this audience I think the advantage of participatory projects is that they can use fun and relatable everyday elements. By engaging and establishing an audience as a community I can begin to comment on larger social issues through playfulness.

The ephemera created can create a lasting effect for the project, and by connecting through a giveaway or memento a social bond can be established. This social bond can lead to trust and openness to consider more complex or uncomfortable art situations.

Installation view, courtesy of My Art Guides Editorial Team
Take Me I’m Yours, Installation View

Rosa Cade provides a beautiful example of creating a social bond through appreciation and exchange of a gift. In her Walking:Holding project, “the performers, or ‘hand holders’ are a group of local people from a range of different sections of the community. The aim is to get people who are different ages, races, genders, sexuality and social backgrounds to participate, to create a diverse and rich experience for the audience member. This performance is about bringing very different people together to walk hand in hand in public. It’s about flesh to flesh experiences of difference. It hopes to encourage greater understanding and tolerance amongst people who experience it, and to open up new possibilities for ways of being in public space, and ways of being with each other.”

Documentation of Walking:Holding by Rosana Cade

Working with the wide range of participants involved holding workshops, rehearsals and reflections sessions throughout the project’s development. Through this exchange of time, a real connection was made with the participants (https://rosanacadedotcom.wordpress.com/projects/current-projects/walkingholding/)

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Felix Gonzalez-Torres, “Untitled” (USA Today), 1990. Installation view of Felix Gonzalez-Torres: Specific Objects without Specific Form, MMK Museum Für Moderne Kunst, Frankfurt, 2011.

In terms of the take away as an artwork in itself I always think of Felix Gonzales-Torres’ candies. The take away creates a sense of ownership over the work, as well as a physical and psychological connection. Engaging the viewers a participants rather than passive viewers forcing a new paradigm in the relationship between artist, viewer and institution. Through this shared experience the roles are also broken down, re imagined and experimented with – which is always a good thing, especially in terms of removing power dynamics and reassigning power to underrepresented populations.

I also think there is value in the take away because of its ability to raise questions about preexisting hierarchical structures in the art world, especially in terms of consumerism in the art market. Making the work inherently anti-capitalist.

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Moma Exchange Cafe

Projects like the MOMA’s exchange cafe, and the 1995 exhibition Take Me (I’m Yours), an exhibition idea originally conceived by Hans Ulrich Obrist and Christian Boltanski in 1995 have so carefully considered what the takeaway as an art object means in terms of social engagement. All the works and projects in these involve inviting active visitor participation and interaction or through touch and takeaways. The main goal to create a lasting impression with the audience that is not necessarily shocking.

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Gilbert & George
Installation view from the exhibition Take Me (I’m Yours), selected by Hans Ulrich Obrist, Serpentine Gallery, London (24 March – 30 April 1995)

I plan to exchange one of my Zenith views for every participant or Zenith view submitted to the archive. Thinking about what media will work for this, the take aways will be cyanotyped images, created in multiples. Using light and absence of pigment to represent light against nothingness seems like the right material fit to me. Each cyanotype will be of the same image, but the exposure and development process makes them unique.

The other take away is the original of the drawing they make. I will keep the carbon copy, or print as I have been thinking of them. I have decided to hand draw then and changed the “form” to a circle space for drawing to capture that more human view, mimicking the way our eyes see the world through a circle lense – getting away from the photo and more into an observational field.


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*GAZE form to accompany carbon paper





Cade, Rosana. “Walking:Holding” (2013). Blogpost. https://rosanacadedotcom.wordpress.com/projects/current-projects/walkingholding/

McIntosh, Karly A., “Come Together: An Exploration of Contemporary Participatory Art Practices” (2014). Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository. 2183. https://ir.lib.uwo.ca/etd/2183





Exploratory Project: Week Seven (Research: Playfulness for Participatory Projects)

Tutorial with Kim Pace was really invigorating. I haven’t had a studio visit with a visiting artist in a few years, and it was wonderful to have someone new take interest in your work, and provide encouraging feedback. We discussed a variety of angels associated with participatory art, but what really stuck with me was when Kim noticed my interest in graphic novels, illustration and comics. How those are the artists I am looking at, and they are having an influence on my practice, even if I am not necessarily making the same type of work.

The playfulness, of artists like Lynda Barry and Walter Scott really appeals to me, and draws me into any story they are telling, regardless of content.  Kim also suggested I look at the work of Andy Holden, which I was immediately excited by. His combination of seemingly scientific imagery with comics and googly eyes captures the cartoonish and the cosmic. Taking imagery that exists outside of the gallery, that is inviting, familiar in the way it uses children’s pop culture images/aesthetics to create immersive installations that you want to spend time in.

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Andy Holden

I find that Mark Leckey uses a similar aesthetic combination of art historical images, pop and digital culture. Capturing the change in history and technology in his work creates a sense of nostalgia for the early 2000’s. In an interview with Bryony Stone Leckey said: “There’s nostalgia which is nourished at that point when you’re eight or nine years old, things that you have a dim recollection of that were on the periphery. That seeps in and then you find it later in life and there’s an attraction there. I think nostalgia is massively amplified by technology, by the availability of all the images, the magazines, the videos and all the rest of it. That’s all accelerated so there’s more nostalgia. Lastly, I think it’s to do with maybe a declining freedom. For me the energy of the 60s looked incredibly productive and freeing and liberating, and the 70s looked the same. I guess now if you’re looking back on the 90s, the idea idea that mass subculture could appear now seems improbable.”

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Mark Leckey. UniAddDumThs. Installation view
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Mark Leckey, The Universal Addressability of Dumb Things, installation view (detail)

This idea of nostalgia is also something I am not afraid to capture in my work. To indulge in the act of drawing something by observation is a nostalgic act. These are also ephemeral objects being digitized, bit databases go out of date every 10 years, so they don’t really last that long.

Kim also suggested the Johnny Cash Project which is a collective art project, where participants ate invited to draw Johnny Cash, “as he lives on in (their) mind’s eye.”

The project works by starting with “a single image as a template, and using a custom drawing tool, to create a unique and personal portrait of Johnny. The work is the combined with art from participants around the world, and integrated into a collective whole: a music video for “Ain’t No Grave”, rising from a sea of one-of-a-kind portraits.

Strung together and played in sequence over the song, the portraits will create a moving, ever evolving homage to this beloved musical icon. What’s more, as new people discover and contribute to the project, this living portrait will continue to transform and grow, so it’s virtually never the same video twice.”

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The Johnny Cash Project

What I would like to take away from these projects is to incorporate that playfulness into my own work. The tone should be welcoming and open, where curiosity appreciated. It does not necessarily have to be through humor, but by creating a space for exploration where silliness is ok but also serious drawing can happen, making an inviting environment where anyone can create.

My research from our chat expanded into looking at a more broad history of participatory art, to focus in on what areas of the practice align with my values. Over and over this idea of playfulness came up.

Karly McIntosh‘s thesis on the way communities are formed around participatory practices sums up my goals for this project:

“Participatory works address the public audience, aiming to meet people where
they are, draw them in and establish a relationship with them. Forming a connection with the average person by finding a common ground, participatory works attempt to
communicate something real about human experiences, the environment, and our own
lives and interactions. Each viewer brings something unique to participatory art as a
result of his or her widely varied experiences. The most successful participatory works
can acknowledge and make space for people’s differences, while also strongly
accentuating the commonalities that unite people. By embodying and speaking to the
average person’s experience, participatory art shows its value in revealing and facilitating real physical, emotional, and social experiences that reflect a deeper link. The
connections and relationships between each aspect of the participatory experience
establish the relevance of this artistic practice for a contemporary audience and time

My local copy of Claire Bishop‘s Artificial Hells is currently checked out, but should be available soon, as it seems to be another essential text for me to read.

What I can take away from these projects is to incorporate that playfulness into my own work. The tone should be welcoming and open, where curiosity appreciated. It does not necessarily have to be through humor, but by creating a space for exploration where silliness is ok but also serious drawing can happen, making an inviting environment where anyone can create.

This week I have continued making carbon paper test drawings, figuring out how to layer pages to alter the marks left on the carbon paper, and considering how to use the ‘negatives’ of this process. The carbon on paper created form making this drawing was inverted to be used for the logo, but will also be used as a lightbox.

These test have also been useful in deciding paper thickness and the necessary layers for the participatory form, visitors will fill out.


Own work, star for Exploratory Project, in progress


I have had an embosser fabricated to stamp carbon copies for the collection, and am making small tags and labels for the objects I am making as part of the installation. A half to 3/4 pressure crimp seems to be ideal for read ability.

I think this tool adds an element of authenticity to the archive materials. Even though it is completely fabricated by me, it adds a sense of importance to all the submissions, and is a bit playful in the way it enacts the ritual of officiating or archiving to all objects.

Tests and embosser, own design

The sigil will be incorporated onto these objects, it will also be used as the coverpage for the accompanying zine and on the envelope for the exchanged cyanotypes.


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own work, logo

In terms of my own work the *GAZE exploratory project will aim to connect the audience over the ability to experience the wonder of the night sky, documenting it, and sharing the different perceptions we all have about the night sky. The playfulness comes from being open and accepting of everyone’s ideas.


Claire Bishop. Artificial Hells: Participatory Art and the Politics of Spectatorship. London and New York: Verso, 2012. 390 pp., 86 b/w illus.

Tom Finkelpearl.What We Made: Conversations on Art and Social Cooperation. Durham, NC, and London: Duke University Press, 2013. 416 pp., 91 b/w illus.