Beyond Participation | Stokfiszewski | Polish Theatre Journal

ISSN 2451-2966


Action: Place à l'art, 2014 edition, Marseille, photo by Les Têtes de l’art. Source:
Igor Stokfiszewski

Beyond Participation


The text begins with an observation that in the area of theatre and performing arts there can be witnessed a retreat from participatory practices, a weariness of participation, and even a negation of participatory attitudes. The author attempts to defend the ‘participation paradigm’ and argues that the deepening of participatory practices can only take place through a transformation of the ‘production apparatus’ of culture, that is, through stepping beyond participation towards collective governance of cultural organizations by artists and communities. By analysing the case of the Italian Teatro Valle Occupato and the French Les Têtes de l’Art the author shows how collective governance of cultural organizations contributes to a deepening of participatory art practices. The author argues with or draws support from such figures as Claire Bishop, Markus Miessen, Chantal Mouffe, Antonio Negri, Walter Benjamin and Ugo Mattei.


collective governance; democracy; occupation; participation; participatory art; social movements

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Igor Stokfiszewski

(1979), activist, dramatist, researcher, participant and initiator of actions in the areas of political and social theatre, community theatre and engaged art. He has collaborated with the Łaźnia Nowa Theater (Nowa Huta, in Kraków), the Workcenter of Jerzy Grotowski and Thomas Richards (Pontedera, Italy), with the German collective Rimini Protokoll, and with artists Artur Żmijewski, Paweł Althamer and Katarzyna Górna. In cooperation with directors Wojtek Klemm, Bartosz Szydłowski and Agnieszką Olsten, he has staged performances based on plays by authors including Bertold Brecht, Heiner Müller, Sławomir Mrożek and Olga Tokarczuk. Author of Zwrot polityczny [Political Turn] (2009), editor of Culture and Development: Beyond Neoliberal Reason (2017), co-editor of the collections Jerzy Grotowski – Teksty zebrane [Jerzy Grotowski: Collected Papers] (2012), Built the City: Perspectives on Commons and Culture (2015), Kultura i rozwój. Analizy, rekomendacje, studia przypadków [Culture and Development: Analysis, recommendations, case studies] (2016). A member of the Political Critique team, of the European Alternatives board of trustees,  an activist in the trade union Workers' Initiative and in the DiEM25 political movement. Since 2013, with Jaśmina Wójcik and others, he has been conducting social and artistic actions in post-industrial spaces of the Warsaw district of Ursus.