Experiencing democracy

Investigation by Estelle Zhong Mengual


The awarding of the prestigious Turner Prize to the English architect collective Assemble in December 2015 turned the public eye onto a branch of participatory art that continues to remain misunderstood. In her discussion of this artistic practice, which is more a part of the social sphere than the art world, Estelle Zhong Mengual draws on the example of Lone Twin, an English collective (Gregg Whelan and Gary Winters) who from 2011 to 2012 collaborated with volunteers to build a sailboat out of 1221 pieces of wood gathered from across England. Today, the boat can be hired by anyone, for any use. Building on ideas by John Dewey, Estelle Zhong Mengual sees in this practice a chance to experience the democratic ideal, in the sense of a “community of action” comprised of heterogeneous individuals.

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