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Audience participation and collaboration: a practice-led study of contemporary performance

Dubois, Caroline (2017) Audience participation and collaboration: a practice-led study of contemporary performance. Masters thesis (MA), Manchester Metropolitan University.

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Abstract

This Master of Arts by Research project proposes the use of research through praxis, to reach an understanding of the subject of participation and collaboration in contemporary art through a system of making and reflection. The research evolved through my artistic practice, the application of theory, and the subsequent folding of both methods of enquiry into each other. The focus of the investigation was on the creation of two projects I was involved in as part of my professional creative practice. The first being The DJ Who Gave Too Much Information / The Listening Party produced by PME-Art from Montreal and the second Autumn. by Quarantine from Manchester. The commonality between the two works is an invitation to the audience to participate in a live performance and the subsequent generation of a collaborative artwork. The research looked at the contemporary relevance of meeting and participating in a live context and the strategies utilized in making this happen. The deployment of hospitality as a strategy, in order to seduce and encourage the audience within the context of participatory art and the tensions related to it, emerged as the key finding. I am looking at how the strategies (which focus around acts of hospitality and rhizomatic structure) invite a sense of agency from the audience that resonates with contemporary spectator discourse. The ideas explored within this research were informed by six primary written works: The Emancipated Spectator by Jacques Rancière (2011) on the role and idea of the spectator; Artificial Hells (2012) by Claire Bishop on participatory art and the politics of spectatorship; Audience Participation in Theatre (2013) by Gareth White on the aesthetic of the invitation; Conversation Pieces (2011) by Grant Kester on community and communication in modern art; A Thousand Plateaus (1987) by Guattari and Deleuze on the concept of rhizome and Of Hospitality by Derrida and Dufourmentelle (2000) on the concept of hospitality. The methods used for this research consisted of reflective journaling, performances, photo and video documentation, questionnaires, and a literature review.

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