TALK – Participation after Artificial Hells by Icaro June 25, 2023 0 News, Post-Archive

Participation after Artificial Hells

12th July, 2023 – 7pm

Conversation with Claire Bishop

Moderated by Nithya Iyer

Free entry*


Claire Bishop published Artificial Hells, a history and theory of participatory art, in 2012. Reflecting on what has happened to participatory strategies since then, she argues that participation as a discourse is over in visual art, but continues to exist in strands of theatre and dance. The main causes for its demise as a coherent discourse are activism and social media. In visual art, participation has been superceded by a feminist discourse of ‘care’; in museums, by the neoliberal rebranding of participation as ‘viewer engagement’. Moreover, the book’s central thesis, concerning an aesthetics of antagonism, has lost force as a result of right-wing interest in transgression and disruption. This leaves us with a dilemma: what can participation accomplish in the face of a catastrophically divided society?

In collaboration with ICNOVA da Universidade Nova de Lisboa


* with ticket collection 45 min before the start of the session ( subject to room capacity )


Claire Bishop is a critic and professor in the PhD Program in Art History at the Graduate Center, City University of New York. Her books include Artificial Hells: Participatory Art and the Politics of Spectatorship (Verso, 2012), Radical Museology, or, What’s Contemporary in Museums of Contemporary Art? (König, 2013), and a book of conversations with Cuban artist Tania Bruguera (Cisneros, 2020). She is a Contributing Editor of Artforum, and her essays and books have been translated into twenty languages. She is currently completing two books: a short publication about Merce Cunningham’s Events, and Disordered Attention: How We See Art and Performance Today.