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Title: Negotiation theory and the critique of dialogue in dialogical and relational art
Author: Wilsher, Mark
ISNI:       0000 0004 2713 9846
Awarding Body: University of the Arts London
Current Institution: University of the Arts London
Date of Award: 2010
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This research takes as its context the “social turn” in contemporary art of the last fifteen years, which has emphasised social relationships and made use of the key term dialogue. Four exhibition projects demonstrate an alternative theorisation based on the concept of negotiation. Participation is often related to notions of the public realm, where dialogical art is increasingly superseding the autonomous sculpture as the favoured form of public art. Socially engaged art projects also draw support from political concepts such as social exclusion and inclusion, and as a consequence have become increasingly instrumentalised. Three models of the public realm are explored and related to forms of public art making. Hannah Arendt’s space of appearance and action is shown to relate to the Modernist sculpture of the 1970s, which forms the subject matter of one body of drawings. Mikhail Bakhtin and Jürgen Habermas provide the central notions of dialogue and the discursive public sphere, which are then shown to underpin much relational art through a detailed examination of Nicolas Bourriaud’s Relational Aesthetics (2002) and Grant Kester’s Conversation Pieces (2004). Subsequent debates among art critics around Chantal Mouffe’s formulation of an “agonistic public realm” are also followed. The dialogical paradigm is subject to a critique based on its inability to deal with real difference. Negotiation theory is proposed as an alternative model, specifically the Harvard Negotiation Project’s integrative model of principled negotiation. Four practical projects based on four aspects of principled negotiation are described and presented through documentation. These were exhibited at The Henry Moore Institute, CHELSEA Space, Picture This, OUTPOST gallery and Wysing Arts Centre between 2008 and 2010. Each project demonstrates how negotiation theory models specific interactions between unequal parties, and together they suggest an alternative theorisation of relational art in the agonistic public sphere that avoids both dialogism’s utopianism and agonism’s provocative gestures
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available