PRINT Summer 2010

Tim Griffin

AMONG THE MOST INTRIGUING ASPECTS of conversations around contemporary art is the language most commonly used to describe the unprecedented expansion of its field. More and more often, in this context, one hears references to democracy and democratization, and doubtless such terminology is prompted today by the increasing number and diversity of audiences migrating to museums and galleries around the world. And, of course, these words seem all the more fitting as art-world institutions increasingly present works steeped in performance and participation, with the distance between art and audience ostensibly eroding as the latter is invited to actively engage with the work on view rather than to passively behold it. Yet, one wonders, beyond this welcome air of inclusivity: How are these words—democracy, democratization, participation—actually being used? What dynamics do they truly portray?

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