Theories of ‘Relational Aesthetics’, Participation and Social Interaction:
The art theorist and curator Nicholas Bourriaud linked a numbers of contemporary artists of the 1990’s under the umbrella of what he called ‘Relational Aesthetics’.
“Their works involve methods of social exchanges, interactivity with the viewer within the aesthetic experience being offered to him/her, and the various communication processes, in their tangible dimension as tools serving to link individuals and human groups together.” (Bourriaud, N. 2002:43)
Others, however such as the theorist Claire Bishop, believed that the concept needed to be questioned more rigorously as it could be said to be a basic attempt to re-characterize a selection of artistic practices during the 1990’s.
I have introduced these theories, as both of these theorists were mostly writing about the same artist. These artists have pushed forward the ideas of what the gallery has to offer the viewing public by using different social mechanisms and constructs within those spaces.
Rirkrit Tiravanija has become known for his curry events and the use of food and sociable eating within the gallery space-time. Once the event has finished, he will then simply leave the space without tidying up, to create installations as a means to display the evidence of the room having some function. On other occasions Tiravanija has been known to create sculptural forms out of the objects left behind, such as the pots and pans that these mass meals where cooked in or bottles of beer that were drunk during the course of the evening. On the information given with his entire piece, it always cites ‘Lots of People’, as part of the list of materials.
Gelitin, a group of Austrian artists, created a piece for the 2008 exhibition ‘Psycho Building’ at the Hayward Gallery. For this piece they turned a section of the roof of the gallery building into a boating lake, where members of the public could take turns in pairs to row their way around the area watching the London skyline.
The consideration of the gallery space’s functionality in this way must take great influence from the discovery of Installation Art and the concept of ‘Environments’, with our thanks to the artist Allen Kaprow whose work was at the forefront of these developments from the early 1950’s.
I guess the question is what happens to the role of the audience while taking part in these forms of activities? While participating in activities or environments like these, members of the public may loss sight of the bigger issues, such as politics, and experience emotions much like those while watching the ‘Utopian Situation’ I mentioned in Section 1 – What is Experiential Art.
But in retrospect, these kinds of ‘Environments’ or installations have some form of objectivity or physical existence, which relates to sculpture and can be sold as a poetic residue of the art experience.
My work – ‘Begging for Social Interaction’:
This is a workshop that I have constructed out of a number of exercises that aim to break down the social barriers that we build around ourselves in an attempt to encourage diversity play, exploration object role play gesture, primitive movement, as well as physical and emotional contact. Such activities as the presentation of personal objects in the form of ‘Show and Tell’ aim to create a group that is open and more intimate while talking about themselves.