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Seminar : Imagining the Audience. Viewing positions in curatorial and artistic practice

1–2 October 2012

Bio Rio Stockholm, Sweden

An international seminar about the role of the audience in artistic and curatorial practice. Based on specific examples, internationally recognized artists and curators present how they imagine the individual viewer’s mental, physical and emotional experience of the art event.

Imagining the Audience is arranged by Mobile Art Production, Riksutstšllningar/Swedish Exhibition Agency and CuratorLab/Konstfack University College of Arts, Crafts and Design.


Phil Collins, artist / Lundahl & Seitl, artists/ Raimundas Malasauskas, curator, artist / Magdalena Malm, curator / Paul O’Neill, curator, artist, theorist/ Johan Pousette, curator / Joanna Warsza, curator / Annika Wik, film theorist/

Contributions from the seminar along with other texts will be collected in an anthology published by Art & Theory, to be released in December 2012.

When audience is mentioned in the context of contemporary art, it is most commonly in association with mediation and communication after the production of an art work or exhibition. The seminar Imagining the Audience will instead focus on the role of the audience within the artistic and curatorial process. How does an artist or curator imagine the experience, movement and mental process of the individual viewer ? And how does this perspective influence the actual work and the way the viewer experiences the work ?

As opposed to socially engaged practices and participation, we will be looking at practices that engage the individual viewer’s body and consciousness. We have seen this engagement of the audience in various ways, such as in video installations where the movement of the viewer adds significant meaning or interpretation to the work, in immersive sound works where the viewer is the main character, as well as in performative works where the actions of the audience is choreographed by the artist. In the last few years a generation of artists in the field between contemporary art and performance have developed situations where the viewer steps inside of a situations which is either sound based or a live event and where the presence of the audience is vital for the development and existence of the work or where the audience is invited to step into a different world over a longer period of time.

The seminar will be focusing on strategies of involving the audience in terms of dramaturgy or choreography of an exhibition, how a shift of context or situation will change the experience of the viewer, how spatial, temporary and other aspects are created within the curatorial process of constructing the situation of the audience.

The practices in focus aren’t necessarily based on identification (as in for instance feature film) but serve as a projection surface or platform for the thoughts and emotions of the viewer. The focus of the project could be described as how the curator or artist imagines the viewer in order to create both a sensory and a mental experience and where in some cases the works would not even exist without the embodied viewer inside of it. A quote from Thomas Hirschhorn could describe this : I want the public to be inside a brain in activity.

The seminar is part of a larger research project looking at the extensive theory of Viewing Positions in aesthetics and film theory applying this on contemporary art in order to gain a more differentiated understanding of the role of the audience.

For more information about the seminar see