A Restless Art

How participation won, and why it matters

François Matarasso

A Restless Art is a kind of dialogue between current practice and past experience, between today’s artists and those of previous generations, between emerging ideas and tested ones. The research, done between 2015 and 2018, was undertaken without a specific thesis.

The book is a response to the rapid growth of participatory art since the early 2000s, especially in places where it was a recent practice with little formal support. A new generation of artists was making art with communities shattered by the 2008 financial crisis and its aftermath.

The book has been re-written several times, each very different from the last. It is, like the few other books on this subject, a book by a practitioner, written primarily for practitioners, albeit with an eye to other audiences.

"Although this book draws on my best knowledge, research and craft, it can only be one interpretation of participatory art. It does not try to prove what is a matter of judgement, though it does hope to replace belief with knowledge. It sets out an argument for the value of this work that will persuade some but not others. My vision of participatory art, as a creative and a democratic space in which we can discover, process, understand, organise and share our experience deliberately rejects a single, definitive interpretation, even if I do propose some definitions...this book offers more questions than answers. there is no correct place to stand in these debateable lands. there is only your place, chosen because you have considered others and settled on one that corresponds to your artistic, political, philosophical ideas." - Francois Matarasso

Source: Book Foreward