M.F.A. Kok, MA
PhD research project: (No) Strings Attached. The Dynamics of Freedom and Control in European Participatory Art in the 1960s
Experiments with participation in the visual arts started to really flourish for the first time in the 1960s. On the one hand, the emergence of this new participatory art practice provided the viewer with more responsibility and the opportunity to have a say in the creation of the artwork. On the other hand, the artist usually provided clear instructions that steered the viewer in a certain direction. Participatory art, it seems, was dominated by two contrasting notions: freedom and control.
The main objective of this research is to understand the dynamics of freedom and control in participatory art in Europe in the 1960s and, in relation to that, the interaction between participatory art and its social context. To achieve this objective, the research will focus on an analysis of (1) the form and degree of participation in the art practice of the 1960s, (2) the artists’ intentions to work with participation and (3) the links to the historical context, i.e. the social, political, artistic and intellectual setting in which the artists operated.
Based on a contextual approach, the research aims to study how the use of participation in visual arts in the 1960s, and the related intentions and ideas concerning control and freedom, were affected by various socio-historical circumstances and shaped by the debates, beliefs and ideas prevalent in society at the time. The study focuses on the participatory visual art practice in Europe in the 1960s. The core of the research consists of seven case studies concerning seven participatory works by different artists who lived and worked in Europe at the time, and have in common being exhibited at the fifthdocumenta in Kassel in 1972.
The research aims to provide insight into an important period in the history of participatory art, about which little is currently known. It also aims to reveal the artists’ intentions for using participation and answer the question of whether there was more behind these intentions than purely social motives. In doing so, the research examines the interaction between participatory art and its historical context, and aims to show how the two crossed paths in the 1960s as a result of the debate on freedom and control. It also aims to give a specific historical and nuanced picture of participatory art in the 1960s. In addition, this research aims to provide new insights into the mechanisms of freedom and control in participatory art and attempts to break through traditional binary thinking on the subject.
Dutch Art Criticism in a Globalised World. Commitment, the Market and Blurring Boundaries in Contemporary Art 1989-2014
This research investigates Dutch art criticism that developed between 1989 and 2014 in a globalised world and aims to provide insight into important art critical stances and positions of that period. The study focuses on three important art critical debates, concerning (1) commitment in art, (2) the grip of money in the art world and (3) blurring boundaries in contemporary art. The research will result in an anthology of art critical texts that shed light on various positions and players within these three debates and on important art and cultural developments in the period between 1989 and 2014.
The publication will be part of a book series of eleven volumes, which will give a unique and representative overview of Dutch art criticism between 1885 and 2015. The book series is the result of the cooperation of a group of Dutch art historians, edited by Dr Peter de Ruiter and Dr Jonneke Jobse.
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