A Restless Art is a website (and in 2018, a book) about community and participatory art. It’s about what those practices are, how people think about them, why they’re done and what happens as a result. It’s called ‘a restless art’ because this work is unstable, changing and contested. It involves a huge range of ideas and practices. It cracks with artistic, political, ethical and philosophical tensions that give participatory art life, energy and creativity. They are what make it matter in people’s lives.
They’re also what has kept me working in community art for more than 35 years, as an artist, manager, teacher, researcher and writer. A Restless Art is a way to think about my own experience, so there’s some history here. But the history is valuable only insofar as it helps understand and strengthen what people are doing today and participatory art has never seemed stronger or more vital than now. A new generation of artists is working in ways I never imagined, all over the world. I’m learning about work in Egypt, Turkey, Ukraine, Greece, Morocco and many other places and some of that is here.
There are many, many ways of doing good participatory art. I know what I believe, but I also know that’s just one path. And as time passes, and I see more work, I understand how small and unstable is what I do know.
If you care about participatory art, I hope you’ll find things on these pages to inspire, encourage and interest you – and things to argue against. There are 100 posts on the blog, and the tags will help you find subjects that interest you. The case studies look at individual projects in detail, but the links pages will take you to other project sites. Finally the resources pages gather some documents from previous decades. Have a browse and thanks for visiting.