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*CREATING COMMUNITY*I'll start by revisiting Wochen Klausur's
"To show that nationality and ethnic background do not have to be the main characteristics that allow a group to form identity, WochenKlausur established three interest groups whose members differ in nationality but share interests, concerns or requirements."
And then we'll move to Alfredo Jaar's Skoghall Konsthall. Skoghall is a paper-mill town in Sweden. Konsthall means Art Center. Alfredo Jaar built an art center out of paper in the town of Skoghall, and held an opening featuring art works by Skoghall town residents. He then asked the townspeople to remove their works after the reception, and set fire to the building, pissing a lot of people off.
Several years later the town had raised enough funds to hire him to design a permanent Art Center. Essentially, he created a void the town didn't know they had, by giving them an art center they didn't think they wanted, and then taking it away.
Fallen Fruit maps fruit trees in public spaces and leads tours for urban foraging. They've done a nice job of finding gallery-ready derivatives of their participatory actions.
And we'll finish with Michael Reynolds ("The Garbage Warrior"), who sold shares of a housing community for "less than a night out on the town," but required residents to build their own homes, testing his aggressively sustainable architecture techniques.
The two major tactics for creating community in these participatory projects are giving something away, and uncovering common interests. From personal experience, I know that art based on the gift is most successful when there is reciprocation: when the receiver must give something in return, or prove some level of commitment. Requiring Skoghall to raise the funds for an art center makes the town more accountable and invested in the success of the project. Giving people the tool to gather fruit rather than simply giving them fruit forces them to work together and learn. And by making someone's home their method of participation in a community, Michael Reynolds finds a practical, non-art anchor to pretty much guarantee committment and investment.
As participatory works operate outside of traditional art contexts, it becomes important to uncover reasons for working outside of art justifications. I'm not talking about making art "practical," but of considering communities as participants rather than venues or materials. Or, if we think about it in sculptural terms, considering participants as materials with aspects and qualities that are integral to the structure being created from that material.