Imagining the social
2019 - 2021

Performer and teacher in conceptual direction, Andreas Liebmann, examines the production of secondary image in participatory performance art. What is produced beside participation? How can the artistic impact of participatory art cross the line of the participants and develop its own strength as an ”image”. A series of participatory art setups are established that use conceptual criteria in order to explore their artistic potential.

In the recent years the opening of art production towards “external” social areas has increased. The effect of artistic work (making people creative and cooperative) is used in political debates to justify fundings and to bring artists into crisis zones of society. But I see the danger of naivety concerning the role of art and the artist in this context. Asking for the function of art in society I doubt that it is per se ”good” to do communal related artwork. You can easily feel satisfied if your participative performance makes the participants happier. But, is that it? Is this what art can or should do? Artists are financed to work in “socially endangered” zones and give the people a good experience. Sometimes this seems to be a replacement for not addressing social problems on a political level. Being creative is fine but if the work is not reaching the potential of art – which I would define as addressing paradoxes, being irritating, using humour that aches etc. – it is rather a kind of social sedative: Easy to take in, easy to forget.

The focus of this research is how to explore, sharpen, strengthen the secondary images of participatory artwork, how to find methods, forms, terms to make participatory art communicate both to the participants and to people that are not directly part of the event. How to make participatory art work on the public imaginary and make it get a political function that reaches heads and brains of the public sphere.