“There is an urgent need to undo the innocence of participation” (Mouffe + Miessen, 2007)
Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh will be hosting the first of 3 conferences exploring participatory art practices and failure. The first event – titled: The Failure of Participation 1: Good Failures – is being held 9am – 5pm, Monday 13th May, 2019.
Over the past 2 decades, there has been a sustained growth of public/participatory art projects. However, cultural organisations and artists operating within ever decreasing funding cycles are invariably required to “provide evidence of their benefit to the economy, urban regeneration and social inclusion” (Maclean 2012) for continued fiscal support. Thus, in order to ensure continued financial survival, artists and organisations seem to only ever be able report and review successful projects
This (financial) dependency on the ‘positive’ successes of participatory arts has led to a lack of criticality about the practice, causing us to ask: Where is the learning? It is, after all, through failures that we are able to develop and grow as a field: how can we learn and develop if the failures are invisible?
The Failure of Participation: Good Failures event is the first of three conferences that aims to productively explore the failures of participatory projects with both organisations, artists and participating publics in order to explore how failures can be productive.
This project gives space to reflect on our current infrastructure for funding, commissioning and delivering this work, and where failure fits into that, so that we can identify gaps that complicate the relationship between commissioners, artist, and organisations in order to start a conversation about what ideal next practice looks like.
This is a a safe/discreet platform for all of those with a stake in participatory art to start examining this sensitive and difficult issue and to look afresh at our infrastructures.
Tickets cost £30 and cover refreshments and lunch, as well as the day of speakers/workshop. Only 25 spaces for the first event available – for information or to book a place, please click here:
The current series is proposed to address various elements of ‘Participation’, including the infrastructures that support ‘participatory practices’, the practice of ‘participation’ and its effects, as well as the policies that surround it. The proposed titles of each conference are:
The Failure of Participation 1: Good Failures – projects and infrastructures
The Failure of Participation 2: Loser Win – people and practitioners
The Failure of Participation 3: Fail Better – policy and the futures