Participative art projects have increased in what is called the Global South. Although claiming social inclusion, this art genre also raises questions regarding notions and concepts of 'community', collaboration, and power relations, and in what relation they stand to existing social imaginaries.
In cities all over the world and particularly in what is called the Global South, we can observe an increase of socially and politically interested art practices that address audiences beyond the art world while adopting media and methods widely accepted in international art discourse. They mostly are labeled collaborative art, dialogical art, or participative art and often are event-like, performative, and processual rather than object-based. They are mostly directed towards social change and exchange, often in protest against political authorities and social realities.
Artists working in this genre mostly seek interaction with socially and economically marginalized 'communities' or 'groups', and they emphasize the integrative purpose and function of such art practices. Sometimes, they also involve political engagement such as public protest against social injustice, against failure in service delivery, police arbitrariness, unemployment, etc. Often, the artists also collaborate with, or at least are funded by, NGOs, social organizations or other networked groups that also speak to a broader, trans- and international public.
The presenters reflect the notions of social empowerment, collaboration, and community critically on the basis of case examples of engaged art projects in cities all over the world. What does collaboration mean? How is it related to notions of power? What social and aesthetic benefit do artists and their collaborators draw from these art practices? How are individual and collective imaginations of political realities and futures articulated in such practices? And what role does the ethnographer play when s/he is involved in these artistic initiatives?