The Art of Social Cooporation

The Art of Social Cooperation, An American Framework, the first chapter of Tom Finkelpearl’s What We Made: Conversations on Art and Social Cooperation puts the idea of cooperative art into the context of art history and American history.

I especially appreciate the author’s effort in clarifying that there’s a spectrum rather than definite distinction between participatory art curated by the artist and cooperative art where people work together on a project. Instead of being separated into two categories, every project should be talked about in relation to their position on the participatory—cooperative spectrum. After reading this chapter, I am better equipped to look at projects such as Janet Cardiff’s Her Long Black Hair.

Her Long Black Hair, similar to Paul Ramirez Jonas’ Key to the City, is closer to the participatory side of the spectrum, even more so than the latter. It is a thoughtfully curated audio tour in the Central Park. The artist pays attention to the smallest details in order to bring the audience into a poetic world that blurs the lines between the present and the past, the personal and the universal. Her inclusion of the sound of footsteps is a subtle yet effective way to more or less control the speed of the tour.

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