In using people as a medium, participatory art has always had a double ontological status: it is both an event in the world, and at one removed from it. As such, it has the capacity to communicate on two levels—to participants and to spectators—the paradoxes that are repressed in everyday discourse, and to elicit perverse, disturbing, and pleasurable experiences that enlarge our capacity to imagine the world and our relations anew. But to reach the second level requires a mediating third term—an object, image, story, film, even a spectaclethat permits this experience to have a purchase on the public imaginary.[1] (my emphasis)

[1] Bishop, C., & Creative Time (2011, May). Participation and Spectacle: Where Are We Now? [Video file]. Retrieved from

Artificial Hells; Participatory Art and the Politics of Spectatorship

I’ve just started reading Artificial Hells: Participatory Art and the Politics of Spectatorship properly (having only ever browsed it in snatches and grabs before now). It is “the first historical and theoretical overview of socially engaged participatory art,” written by Claire Bishop, who is Professor in the PhD program in Art… Continue reading