PROCESS | Relational Participation

Posted on 11/07/2011

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I’ve just been reading the program of an event just held in Berlin. Titled Relational Participation Roundtables Berlin, this event sought to explore the role of artists and designers in shaping new kinds of human relations in public matters. Throughout placing I’ve often referred to conversation and dialogue, to refer to a range of participatory and collaborative processes in design and development, drawing on a broad sweep of theory and experience to consider the kinds of relationships that current practices of participation produces. For me, the relational is at the core of these explorations. The Berlin event is more explicit in the role of the relational by considering the merging of participatory practices and relational aesthetics. As the event program states, “we hope to encourage a critical and creative thinking and a set of practices that can be positioned between the two. Both participatory practices and relational aesthetics aim to produce a public that is less passive and more involved in contemporary issues, but how does this public come to be composed?” The program featured a series of short presentations which were curated in three streams: relationship between people and things (design), relationship between people and place (politics), and relationship between people and places (narrative). Such explorations, it is anticipated, reveal the multiplicity or plurality of spaces produced out of diverse and often competing human relations while also consider the role of art and design in such processes. Such negotiations are vital as participatory processes are increasingly co-opted and stripped of meaning.

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