Participative Art: Delegated Performance versus Communal Engaged Performance Using the Example of Artistic Activities by Krzysztof Wodiczko and Paweł Althamer

  • Delfina Jałowik MOCAK Museum of Contemporary Art in Krakow


The author analyzes selected practices of two Polish world-renowned artists – Krzysztof Wodiczko and Paweł Althamer. What their activities with people have in common are their performative aspect and socio-political engagement. The artists do not put themselves in the center of attention. With regard to Krzysztof Wodiczko, the focus is on the stages of creation and presentation of the artist’s public projections on buildings and monuments in cities around the world. In turn, the emphasis of the analysis of Paweł Althamer is on his activities as a founder and co-participant of the Nowolipie Group, within the frames of which Althamer creates works with the members of Polish Society of Multiple Sclerosis. The works of Wodiczko and Althamer exemplify meaningful and popular contemporary participative practices. The latter are the topic of Claire Bishop’s book Artificial Hells: Participatory Art and the Politics of Spectatorship (2012), in which Bishop develops the term “delegated performance”. Taking as her starting point the description of specific artistic phenomena, the author of the present article considers whether Bishop’s term is applicable to the artistic practices of Wodiczko and Althamer; she analyses the process of their activities and how they differ, as well as the role of the artists themselves and the participants indispensable for the project to take shape. Last but not least, the author considers the question of authorship and attribution of the works.