Hustadt, Inshallah
Learning from a participatory art project in a trans-local neighbourhood
27 November 2013 - 18 December 2013

The exhibition is an important element of my submission that connects all the loose ends of my PhD project in a physical space in an attempt to suggest an individual experience of the research process over the last 5 years. It is not art exhibition in an art space. Nor is it the usual type that contextualises the content as art content. Instead it is research material on display that is framed by an exhibition as a format of presentation and communication.

The space of the exhibition is a white wall gallery space of the IAC (Inter Arts Center) – a research institution; a place where researchers work on their projects and present experiments to the limited public. Within an institution of this kind the researcher has a possibility to create an artificial environment – or incubator, a situation needed to suit to her/his research needs. I decided to create a situation, an installation or a showing device within an exhibition where people are invited to study my research case and (spatially) experience the research questions.

The display installation is presenting the documentation in an archive, as a spatial archive that connects together different categories through the exhibition space. If the documentation archive is something that describes an action or event as a set of traces, through the records left in one’s life – drawings, writings, records of interacting with society on the personal and formal level – then I propose to add the role of the scholar who discovers and reactivates the traces of action through her/his own active experience within the contained space of a display installed within an exhibition format.

My PhD research results from my own practice and gives a detailed analysis of a three-year case study: Hustadt Project. The majority of Hustadt Project took place on location (Bochum, Germany) within a suburban setting. In cooperation with local inhabitants we established the context for and ultimately constructed a new Community Pavilion – a structural platform for participatory exchange.

As my art practice is situated in-between architecture and design, sociology and urban studies, the process of the PhD research has been to emphasise my personal involvement and subjective observations utilising and transforming methods from these fields along with inventing new tools and strategies. I develop these methods from the context and the situation as a reaction to the process and therefore they are non-prescriptive, improvised, and reactive. In order to construct an argument in negotiation with local politicians, I introduce the form of spatial action by constructing performative events and inviting people to participate in them. More than accumulating knowledge, I’m interested in analysing it, using it, transforming it into a project where the result produces new relations with people onsite. It is important to emphasise that by using video and photo camera as the main tools within the research process, the research strategies I use transform my position from an observer of the situation to that of being observed.

During the process of Hustadt Project I followed the narrative of the project by creating small presentation movies from editing the photo material that I had taken in parallel to the video, or even sometimes on its own. The presentations were created to communicate the idea of the project in different situations (meetings with the politicians, project presentations in public within art context and beyond). Therefore I decided to keep the form of a presentation and transform it into a “table of contents” or a “summary of images” that introduces specific chapters, for example, edited (key) videos within the presentation of the Hustadt Project in an exhibition format.

Apolonija Šušteršic