University of Leicester
2021JoveAlcaldeBPHD.pdf (1.08 MB)

Thinking institutional frameworks with care: The relation between participation and authorship in discursive public programmes

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posted on 2022-02-10, 11:24 authored by Blanca Jové Alcalde
The art institution has long been theorised as a potential space for public debate, collaboration, and social discussion. Since the late 1990s, however, there has been an increased interest in the creation of more porous and accessible public programmes, expanding the settings and registers of participation. This refers to the constitution and design of dialogical events within the institutional space for society to come together and discuss socio-political matters. Nonetheless, the information on these programmes is often exclusive to the experiences of the curators, centring the narrative on the role of institutions without acknowledging perspectives from audiences, speakers, or other institutional workers. Thus, the literature lacks information about the engagement of these practices and critical reflections on how different participation designs enact different publics. Drawing from the idea of thinking with care established by the STS scholar Maria Puig de la Bellacasa (2017), this research posits that both knowledge production and participation are intrinsically relational – dependent on a wider ecology of knowledge who affect it and take part in its materialisation. As Puig de la Bellacasa points out, knowledge cannot be constructed alone, but only in relation with wider experiences and participants. In this vein, and based on eight-month fieldwork, this research argues for more collaborative and participatory public programmes in art institutions. Otherwise, if hierarchically created and delivered from curators to audiences, the very fundamentals of participatory discourses are made incongruous, as it will show. This study thus proposes to constitute permeable formats and designs of collaboration, open to influence and be influenced, and in constant unfolding and reconfiguration. Likewise, it suggests that art institutions should work more closely with all individuals who participate in the co-construction of knowledge, without erasing the singularities of those who inhabit these spaces and are rooted to their contexts.



Isobel Whitelegg

Date of award


Author affiliation

School of Museum Studies

Awarding institution

University of Leicester

Qualification level

  • Doctoral

Qualification name

  • PhD



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