How Ethical Dilemmas of User Involvement in Art Become a Driving Force for Developing Artistic Practice
Keywords:methodology, practice-led research, user involvement in art, ethical dilemmas
The art project Border Threads was based on mobilising a collaborative art community across international borders within a time frame of five months. The collaborative community had subcommunities and individual participants in five countries. In addition, individuals participated at three open workshops in Oslo. Many among these participants were refugees in exile in Syria, Lebanon, Greece and Turkey.
This article discusses how artistic intentions and ethical issues of user involvement in art constitute a driving force for the methods used in the project Border Threads, a collaborative artwork in the form of a textile tapestry consisting of more than 300 individual textile artworks reflecting the participants thoughts about borders. Working with subcommunities encompassing school classes in Norway and Syria, a women’s collective in Turkey, a network of women in Lebanon, and a group of women in a refugee camp in Greece, the project addresses questions about community relations, representation of others, and about contributing to something meaningful when working with participants in a collaborative art project. Discussions of these questions are based on theory from various disciplines, mostly art theory, and evolve around topics such as artistic intention, self-reflection, community building, time, participant payment, and ethics in general.
The article describes how using methods, experience and existing networks from an interdisciplinary background within art, ethnography, social sciences, innovation, welfare services and activism was important throughout the project. Following the discussion and a retrospective reflection on the process, some proposals are outlined for further development of the Border Threads project.
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