Case Study: Intervention

Intervention: aesthetics, collaboration, relational works.

Bishop’s question: Where is the meeting ground between practice without aesthetics and the absence of aesthetic rigor in activism?

Relevant textual references:

“Collaborative practices are automatically perceived to be equally important artistic gestures of resistance: There can be no failed, unsuccessful, unresolved, or boring works of collaborative art because all are equally essential to the task of strengthening the social bond. While I am broadly sympathetic to that ambition, I would argue that it is also crucial to discuss, analyze and compare such work critically as art.” (Bishop, Social Turn, 3)

“The best collaborative practices of the past ten years address this contradictory pull between autonomy and social intervention, and reflect on this antinomy both in the structure of the work and the in the conditions of its reception. It is to this art- however uncomfortable, exploitative or confusing it may first appear- that we must turn for an alternative to the well-intentioned homilies that today pass for critical discourse on social collaboration. These homilies unwittingly push us toward a Platonic regime in which art is valued for its truthfulness and educational efficacy rather than for inviting us-as Dogville did- to confront more painfully complicated considerations of our predicament” (Bishop, Social Turn, 11)

“Rather than the interpretations of a work of art being open to continual reassessment, the work of art itself is argued to be in perpetual flux. There are many problems with this idea, not least of which is the difficulty of discerning a work whose identity is willfully unstable. Another problem is the ease with which the “laboratory becomes marketable as a  space of leisure and entertainment.” (Bishop, Antogonism and Rlational Aesthetics, 52)

“Bourriaud argues that art of the 1990s takes as its theoretical horizon ‘the realm of human interactions and its social context, rather than the assertion of an independent and private symbolic space.’ In other words, relational art works seek to establish intersubjective encounters… in which meaning is elaborated collectively rather than in privatized space of individual consumption.” (Bishop, ibid 54)

“Related to the project-based “laboratory” tendency is the trend toward inviting contemporary artists to design or troubleshoot amenities within the museum, such as the bar… or reading lounge… and in turn present these as works of art. An effect of this insistent promotion of these ideas of artist-as-designer, function over contemplation, and open-endedness over aesthetic resolution is often ultimately to enhance the status of the curator, who gains credit for stage-managing the overall laboratory experience.”

Frameworks for consideration:

Use / Contemplation.

Emphasis of use typically results in absence of contemplation. Focus on contemplation typically is seen as overlooking an opportunity for enacting change through use.

Individual author / Shared & Participatory authorship.

Investigating the role of author, authors, participant, audience, provides means of critical analysis of work as art.

Open ended alter-narratives / whole narratives.

Bishop calls to attention the shift from the open-ended critique about art, to the open-ended work of art. Under the latter the work is considered to exist as art and as activism. This opens the door for curators and designers to replace artists on projects, allowing the audience to define the work. It also allows the work to have an undefined boundary, locus or experience.

Boundaries of social and aesthetic fused / seperate.

Bishop proposes that aesthetic and social works have not met in a way that is critiqued as art.

A case for examination: OpenRestaurant –

OPENharvest, at Content restaurant in the Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo on November 2 & 3. –
edible installation”
Making products and art in the same space on the same themes.

Examining questions:

No mention of the word “aesthetics”, but is it critically engaged  with aesthetics?

Do they ignore the aesthetic? Do they embrace it? Is it in open discussion in the course of or as a result of the project?

What is the form of integration here? Is restriction sufficiently eschewed, and is expression completely free?

When food production is framed this way, do we look at it as art? Does that change how we define their practice? When they return to life as usual, do we retain that context?

How much of this is the practice of breaking the signifier and the signified, putting food in a museum?

Doest the commercial element to this project place it outside bishop’s expectations for common ground?

Other works for consideration in this context (all descriptions taken from websites, links provided):

Rebar is an interdisciplinary studio operating at the intersection of art, design and ecology. Our mission is to create objects, spaces and ideas that inspire people to re-imagine the environment and our place in it.

Annika Eriksson is a pioneer of the early 1990s artistic tendency to put real situations and social interaction into the center of project-oriented and performative art. Eriksson is known for initiating everyday situations, collective actions, and presentations that are manifest in video or film installations and as photographs in the exhibition space.

Chronique d’un été (Chronicle of a Summer) is a documentary film made during the summer of 1960 by sociologist Edgar Morin and anthropologist and filmmaker Jean Rouch, with the esthetic collaboration of director cameraman Michel Brault.[1] The film begins with a discussion between Rouch and Morin on whether or not it is possible to act sincerely in front of a camera. A cast of real life individuals are then introduced and are led by the filmmakers to discuss topics on the themes of French society and happiness in the working class. At the end of the movie, the filmmakers show their subjects the compiled footage and have the subjects discuss the level of reality that they thought the movie obtained.’un_été

Jeremy Deller is a conceptual artist whose practice encompasses the roles of organizer, observer, documentarian, curator, producer, and archivist. Working collaboratively and often with a non–art world public, Deller’s work consists of a diverse array of media, including video, photography, books, public benches, wall drawings, guidebooks, and billboards. His work has consistently embraced the vernacular and explored the nuanced cultural and political landscapes of Britain as well as places he has travelled.

Jan Van Lieshout
Vostok Cabin, 2010
Huge change is no longer in the past or future but in the present. Our society as we know it and have known to be safe is fast-changing. Value systems of yesterday are no longer relevant. A new civilization is ahead of us. This ideological society offers choice; are we able to find alternate ways of living, another model or are our days counted? The changing climate, growing poverty, wars an more are only expanding. This movable nomadic dwelling unit provides shelter from this disconcerting situation.
The armored shelter is made from old steel plates recuperated from demolished boats together with other leftover material from our current society. The material due to its previous life is crooked, damaged and irregular. There is no straight edge to be constructed from these disastrous supplies. The Cabin looks like an improvised defense / attack apparatus made by a local blacksmith in order to have a better chance of survival in times of revolution and civil war. Inside you find an improvised toilet, woodstove, and benches. It is virtually indestructible.

Erwin Wurm’s One Minute Sculptures:

Since the late 1980s, he has developed an ongoing series of “One Minute Sculptures“, in which he poses himself or his models in unexpected relationships with everyday objects close at hand, prompting the viewer to question the very definition of sculpture. He seeks to use the “shortest path” in creating a sculpture — a clear and fast, sometimes humorous, form of expression. As the sculptures are fleeting and meant to be spontaneous and temporary, the images are only captured in photos or on film.
one minute sculpture by erwin wurm

Design Curator Rossana Orlandi
Spazio Rossana Orlandi opened in 2002 in a former tie factory in the Magenta Neighbour. The spaces wind around a green courtyard and they are  divided between the 2-floor store, where you can find contemporary and vintage furnitures and the gallery, established in 2008 , a space dedicated to limited editions and unique pieces. Since from the start the aim was to forecast and promote young and upcoming designers, discovered all around the world.

Categories: Case Studies


I work as a digital media producer, am pursuing a masters in Media Studies at The New School, ride bicycles and mopeds, listen to lots of music, and maintain an unreasonably large book collection for the size of my Brooklyn apartment. Right now I'm developing research on teams of experts who come together to solve problems and create things. I'm interested in games, integrating multimedia in to unexpected aspects of life, and learning to do as many new things as possible.


Subscribe to our RSS feed and social profiles to receive updates.

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: