Intercourse: an interesting project that aimed to explore public engagement, investigate human interaction and the ethics of public and private observation. Looking at the nature of participation, shared experience and interactive engagement in art practices.

An investigation into the notions of participation, collaboration and documentation surrounding socially engaged art practices. This project looks at where the lines between participation/community/public become distorted and challenge the norm conception of art in public spaces.

“Intercourse is a project curated by Elbow Room, which investigates participatory practice.

Intercourse was first presented at Experimentica 1.1 festival in Chapter Arts Centre, Cardiff in 2011. It was a pilot project, which aimed to explore public engagement, investigate human interaction and the ethics of public and private observation. The structure consisted of a private room, in which audio and visual recording equipment had been set up, with a live feed into the cafe bar area. Members of the public were invited to experience the room with a friend, colleague, relative or stranger for a period of 10 minutes. The couples were isolated in the room and invited to carry out their own actions/interactions.

The intention was that Intercourse would be an ongoing discussion with the outcomes and conversations generated by its presentation informing a future programme of events, artworks and dialogues.

We have now initiated a second phase, to further develop Intercourse as a series of events in creative partnership with venues, organisations and artists. Through these we wish to explore in more detail the nature of participation, shared experience and interactive engagement. This will happen mainly through the process and realisation of projects by artists and artist groups who have public participation, engagement and interaction at the core of their practice. The project artists are Ania Bas, Freya Dooley, Tiff Oben and artist group B.R.G. 

We are not pre-empting the outcomes or engagements of the artists but Elbow Room is interested in the broad consideration of questions such as:

· Is there any intrinsic value of public engagement with visual art projects?
· What makes artists want to engage with their audience?
· Can any benefits of these projects be effectively and innovatively measured?
· Can these projects and experiences be effectively and creatively documented?
· What are the moral and ethical considerations when ‘manipulating’ an audience?
· Who is the audience and is it important to define authorship?

The project is structured in the form of a practice-led research group which will bring together the commissioned artists, Elbow Room, other collaborators and the public, each of whom will investigate a strand or area of the overarching themes through their practice. We are working towards a series of events and interventions culminating in a seminar/event in Spring 2013. The event will place the outcomes of the artists’ research (possibly in the form of performance, presentations or other interventions) in dialogue with one another and with speakers from different professional fields that have a common or overlapping focus.”

For full details of the project see here

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