Preaching to the Choir: The Voice in a Collective and the Politics of Participation

The research is seeking to explore the use of the performative human voice in participatory curatorial and artistic practices that aspire to be political. These practices relate to, or were affected by, protest movements and demonstrations in Europe and in the Middle East from the turn of the 21st century. Looking at the political potential of the voice, as well as exploring what makes a curatorial or an artistic project political, the research aims to examine how these practices engage with the ever growing extremism of the last decade, which threatens freedom of speech or the right to protest, and attempts to silence alternative voices. As these projects shift between the political and social sphere and art spaces, the research looks into both the potential power as well as the challenges of participation, and asks how curatorial practice can invite new forms of cross-disciplinary solidarity. Through interviews, workshops, performances, choirs, marches and assemblies, the research will attempt to engage the same methods that it explores in order to encourage unpredictable collaborations, make accessible and further disseminate what it finds using both online and real public space presence.

Maayan Sheleff is an independent curator based in Tel Aviv, as well as the artistic advisor of The Art Cube Artists’ Studios in Jerusalem and the founder and curator of its international residency program, “LowRes Jerusalem”. Her projects take a reflexive approach towards participation and activism. She is currently studying for a Practice-Based PHD at the Curatorial platform, the University of Reading (UK) and ZHDK (CH), exploring political choirs, or the use of the collective human voice in participatory practices. Some of her recent projects include “The Infiltrators”, exhibition of participatory projects with African Asylum seekers, at Artport Gallery, Tel Aviv ( 2014), “Preaching to the Choir” at Herzlyia Museum in Israel (2015), and “50 years”, an activist project marking 50 year of Israeli occupation with Bet’selem human reights organization. She is currently working on an exhibition at the Bonnefantenmuseum in Maastricht, Holand, realted to her PHD research. She teaches in various academic institutions and her latest publication was Fear and Love in Graz, (in:) Empty Stages, Crowded Flats. Performativity as Curatorial Strategy, performing urgency #4, Editors Florian Malzacher and Janna Warsza.

Find a publication list of Maayan Sheleff here.
Supervisors: Prof. Dr. Dorothee Richter, Prof. Susanne Clausen