Audience, Engagement, Site, Display



Traditional way to make contact with an art work:

Erwin Panofsky – 3 stages of watching: describe what you see (concrete) , which theme is shown (iconographic), base the theme and the presentation in the historical context (religious, cultural, political, social tendencies)

Contemporary art:  watching a challenge – a process (Dr. Gabriele Wimböck, Dr. Alexander Glas, artist Rudolf Wachter)

  1. Keeping the curiosity and watching at irritation: what it is making irritation? what blocks my way into?
  2. own living and art experiences are projected onto the artwork – a dialogue between the self and the art can start being aware
  3. Taking knowledge like biographies, sources of inspiration, looking at the way of painting, material and texture etc.

article Denver Post: Ray Mark Rinaldi – art and active audience: participatory art changes audience  – source:

related artists: Anne Hamilton, Tino Sehgal, Rirkrit Tiravanija, Eiko & Koma

related “institution”: 21cmusemhotels

artist: Markuz Wernli Saitô art in public – art in public – source:  related artists: Seyed Alavi, Grady Gerbracht

Ted video with Jane Deeth, : What´s wrong with contemporary art? source:

Jane Deeth: “Engaging Strangeness in the Art Museum: an audience development stragedy” source:

webside with information/blog etc. by Jane Deeth – source:

Jane Deeth raises interesting insights:

1  Listen to the artwork, think about our fears, our disappointments and prejudices

2  Name what it is I dont like, examine what I dont like.  Is it learned, does it affect my behaviour.

3  Have a conversation around the dont likes.

Monika asks some personal questions:  Where are the borders in interacting?

What is my personal interaction with the audience? Which kind of connection do I want for myself?

Wouldn’t it be interesting to act as a child in the museum.


Mwamba’s view of the audience focused on Zambian issues of elitism, performance and location.

He asked ‘What happens to art when there is no audience?’  What indeed!


Emma considered the participation of the audience, marking on the floor, gestural, raw, merging accidental and intentional.  Tricia Brown, a choreographer explores the limits of her body

German artist Carsten Hollers explores slides in his Test Site at the Tate.  He encourages visitors to engage with his work in unusual ways.

Emma referenced the Manchester Hospital arts project, and its healing powers and Olafur Eliasson’s Weather Project, also at the Tate.

Olafur Eliasson: The Weather Project

Olafur Eliasson: The Weather Project

Serbian artist Marina Abramovitch risked death for her art with perhaps the ultimate audience participation performance, Rhythm 0, 1974.



Tanya considered the Arts Engagement Index by Artist Status which evidences greater involvement in the arts by income producing artists rather than non artists.  Cross-cultural interests also correlated strongly with higher levels of engagement.

The Australians have looked at methodologies for engagement and Ontario has studied engagement linked to attendance.

Tanya argues from experience that it is sometimes necessary to facilitate engagement, to lead the nervous, provide seating for ponderance, perhaps lower the eyeline, provide attendants with ‘let’s talk art’ badges, market and label.


Mathew cited Banksey’s Dismaland, where artist turns celebrity (  He noted the importance of the ‘welcome’, be it the building, the engagement of the artist with the audience, the participation of the audience.

I particularly enjoyed his pastiche on Ladybird books:  ‘”Is the art pretty?” says Jane.  “No,” says Mummy, “Pretty is not important.”  John does not understand.  “It is good not to understand.” says Mummy.  John doesn’t understand.’



Alison showed work outside and in public places (Red Shoes).  She spoke of audience participation, with Sleeping Beauties (Bellas Durmientes), where victims of domestic violence add their story to the web site, of comodification of work, the siting of work where it cannot be seen.


My approach to site was practical and focused on painting, from who initiates a project/exhibition, the focus/participants, the purpose, the possible locations.  I listed open competitions, online galleries, examples of sites from lifts to beach promenade to pop up to site specific.  I considered public and private funding, and the funding controversy of artists not being paid.


Ines talked of how art has moved from the museum walls to the street in Geneva.  She explored art found in woodland, ghosts, pictures, blue trees (funded by a watch company), sculpture.  She referenced Goodwood Sculpture Park, (, which I had forgotten about), work in a desert, weaving in trees, narrative painting where once might have been graffiti.



Maire chose to focus on displays within her home, highlighting the importance of a creative outlet and being true to yourself.  Asking ‘Does a display need an audience?’


Rob focused on the display of photography and the impact digitising has had on the size of work.

Reflecting on the Evening

Such a clever approach to research, divide and conquer.  We all brought something different and something of ourselves to our presentations.  The breadth and depth of the research, the focus, the direction could not have been achieved by one individual, not to mention the time it would have take to do so well.

The words of Jane Deeth will be ever present.

Thank you one and all.

Author: susanmilleruk

Watercolour painter living, working and loving Hastings and St Leonards on Sea. MA in Fine Art.

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