(No) strings attached: reassembling participatory art of the long sixties

Research output: ThesisThesis fully internal (DIV)

129 Downloads (Pure)


(No) strings attached. Reassembling participatory art of the long sixties.

This dissertation deals with participatory art practices that allow members of an audience to actively contribute, alone or together with others, to the bringing into being of art. The main aim of this study is to provide a detailed analysis and explanation of the use of participatory strategies in art in the so-called ‘long sixties’ (starting around 1958 and ending around 1974) in Western Europe. It examines how audience participation was actually thought and facilitated, and discusses the elements that affected these processes of thinking and doing, by focusing on three specific participatory projects, all of which were part of the fifth documenta, a groundbreaking exhibition of contemporary art held in 1972 in Kassel. With regard to a participation pavilion built by the artists John Dugger and David Medalla, a light installation by the artist Piotr Kowalski and a video project initiated by the group telewissen, the following questions are answered: How were participatory strategies incorporated in these projects and what (f)actors contributed to the emergence of these early manifestations of participatory art? How were ideas and motives concerning audience participation able to develop, circulate and, eventually, come to fruition in practice? What connections can be discerned between these instances of first-wave participatory art and other circumstances and developments in the sixties? Drawing on extensive archival materials and with the help of the theoretical and methodological toolbox of the actor-network theory, this study maps out the various actors that, together, generated these three projects and the related participatory practices.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Awarding Institution
  • University of Groningen
  • Lehmann, Ann-Sophie, Supervisor
  • van Rossem, Patrick, Co-supervisor, External person
  • Stigter, Sanneke, Co-supervisor, External person
Award date26-Jan-2023
Place of Publication[Groningen]
Publication statusPublished - 2023

Cite this