Faculty of Arts


Participation, Collaboration, and Photography


Explores a range of increasingly prevalent artistic practices grounded in artistic collaboration and audience participation that are typically mediated though photographic documentation. Considering work by artists such as Thomas Hirschhorn, Tania Bruguera and Sophie Calle, this course covers topics such as relational aesthetics, site-specificity and pedagogical interventions into public space.

This course prepares students to critically engage with a range of practices grounded in artistic collaboration and audience participation that have become increasingly prevalent in contemporary art contexts across the globe. What have terms such as “participation,” “interactivity” and “collaboration” come to signify within different art-related discourses over the past two or three decades? What are some of the ways the viewer has been re-imagined? How has photography been used to both document and enact such complex dialogical interactions?

The course will begin with twentieth century precedents such as the Situationists International in Europe, Happenings in the USA and Gutai in Japan. We will consider how a “public” is constituted alongside evolving notions of spectatorship and civic engagement.

Grounded in the writing of major theorists of the participatory impulse such as Claire Bishop and Nicolas Bourriaud, we will then move on to consider twenty-first century examples, motivated by questions such as: What makes “strong” versus “weak” participation? What are the ethical stakes of community involvement? How is aesthetic value assessed in work that is based on interpersonal relationships?

Learning Aims

  • To develop student’s critical visual literacy
  • To develop student’s ability to reason critically about complex works based on evidence
  • To hone student’s ability to write clearly and persuasively
  • To develop student’s appreciation of the complexity of cultural context


Coursework only

Availability 2022


Lecturer(s) Dr Sophia Powers


ARTHIST 700A: 15.0 points

ARTHIST 700B: 15.0 points

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