Audio Narratives by: Ali El Adawey and Abir Saksouk
Methodologies used by artists in public space interventions intend to reshape people’s relationship with the space. They can vary from reinforcing an already existing, yet unseen or neglected, connection to space, to generating an uncomfortable yet shaky disconnection with it.
“Mchi ta dellak” (Walk so I can guide you) – a research based artistic intervention by Public Works Studio, narrated by Abir Saksouk.
This tale narrates the specific empirical methodology that is based on participation and inclusiveness, elaborated by the artists to activate a sense of self re-appropriation of the public space by the inhabitants. The tale illustrates how the methodology employed was conceived in continuum with the inhabitants needs, and it reflects on how it shaped a clear triangular relationship between the artistic process and practice, between the participants and the space.
Ballet in the Street of Cairo in 2013: a Political Letter, Auto-Reply to Sender?” Critical Question Formulated by Ali El-Adawey.
Going back to the specific artistic public intervention of Cairo Opera ballet dancers in 2013 Egypt, Ali Al Adawey reflects on the multilayered semiotic implications such a moment can hold. He highlights the paradox effect it can produce. While aiming to bring a wider public acknowledgment to the artistic practice, wasn’t it amplifying a rupture with the environment? He asks.
On Participatory Methodologies in Public Space
Contributors: Ali El-Adawey, Abir Saksouk and Hossam Hilali
Note by the editor: Accompanying the audio-narrative experiences above, the following co-authored text is a collective reflexive theoretical effort – yet to be completed – in understanding methodology not only as a technical process of producing an outcome but also as a mind shaping powerful and transformative process linked to the kind of organizational socio-political model one aims for.
Participation and collaboration for the purpose of challenging artistic ownership and authority
The methodology used by artists in the public space solidifies the relation shaped by the artistic practice between the public space and people.
For artists to go out from conventional spaces to share a concern or a preoccupation with a broader audience is in itself a political stand.
In order to make this stand an artistic endeavor productive, the artist has to follow a specific methodology through which people are considered an indivisible part of the work itself. They can participate and shape the artistic practice whether by actively being part of the process, or they can form an audience that interacts and partakes in the artistic work. The participatory aspect of this methodology is fundamental in order for the work not to become propaganda.
For an artist, including the people from the start in a project is different from presenting a specific artistic project or idea in a public space for the audience to come and watch. This difference makes one proceed in reverse to the usual expected way of working i.e. to go and meet yourself in the people. Thus you give up a bit part of your artistic authority.
In order to create such a work, one has to seek to make other people embody one’s own feelings and, thus the creative process has to be collaborative. By making it belong to the people too, this methodology breaks down the artistic ownership over the work.