Accepted paper:

Compromising art? Participation, inclusive heritage and the politics of art in a pluri-ethnic society


Johanna Mitterhofer (European Academy Bozen-Bolzano)

Paper short abstract:

Compromise is central to the success of participative art initiatives. This presentation explores compromise as collaborative practice and examines how compromises are envisioned, formulated and enacted by the participants of Open City Museum, a participative art project in South Tyrol, Italy.

Paper long abstract:

Open City Museum (, OCM) describes itself as an "intercultural and participative art project for museums and their communities". Devised by a photographer and an art curator, OCM uses art as a tool to promote social cohesion in the province of South Tyrol, Italy. South Tyrol is characterised by a peaceful but uneasy co-existence between its Italian and German-speaking population. A growing number of migrants -- the "new" minorities -- are adding further complexity to the local context by challenging, through their mere presence, the established binary of German versus Italian which up to now has been defining South Tyrolean politics and daily life. In a context where cultural policy and art funding are split neatly along increasingly blurry ethno-linguistic boundaries, and tightly intertwined with politics, the willingness to seek compromise and to accept compromise as opportunity rather than failure, is central to the success of OCM's participative art projects. Thus, this presentation explores compromise as a collaborative practice. It examines how compromises are envisioned, formulated and enacted by locals with and without migration background, professional artists and political authorities throughout the various project stages: from defining what art is, to negotiating the relationship between art funding, cultural policy and art itself, to developing an understanding of art and cultural heritage open to, and shared among, all members of society. Finally, the presentation poses the question how participants negotiate the fine line between productive compromises and compromises that may "compromise" artistic and social ideals.

panel P087
Collective imaginations and collaborative art practice