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Art, Action and Participation


Admission requirements

Similar to the admission requirements for the MA Arts and Culture.


Since the 1950s and 1960, artists across the world have used their bodies as the principal force in creating their artworks. Terms varying from actions to happenings, performance art, live art and body art are used by artists and critics alike to describe a range of art practices involving the performative body in action. Starting in the 1950s and 1960s artists also began to use collaboration and participation in their art. The course will focus on the role of art, action and participation in the development of contemporary art. It applies worldmaking as a key principle in the development of contemporary art. It does so by examining diverse networks of artists and artists exchanges in post war, postcolonial and global art settings across the world.

The course examines a multitude of artistic expressions addressing notions of action and performance art, the body in art, participation and collaboration in art. These include Gutai in Japan, Grupo Frente in Brazil and Fluxus in Europe, Japan and North America, and the works of artists from across the world, including Alan Kaprow, Ana Mendieta, Arahmaiani, Joan Jonas, Joseph Beuys, Lee Wen, Ma Liuming, Marina Abramovic, Melati Sudaryomo, Mona Hatoum, Stelarc, Tania Bruguera, Teching Hsieh, Tino Seghal, Yingmei Duan, and Yoko Ono.

The course will further examine ways of taking art to the streets through a close reading of Notes Toward a Performative Theory of Assembly by Judith Butler to consider the performative aspects of assemblies across the world – ranging from the Occupy movement in 2011, to democracy protests in Hong Kong in 2014, 2019 and 2020, and the Black Lives Matter movement starting 2013, expanding to a worldwide movement in 2020.

Course objectives

  • Gain insight in the history of live art, performance art, art and action and art and participation.

  • Acquire knowledge and insight in debates revolving around contemporary art and theory relating to performance art, art and activism, and art and collaboration.

  • Learn to address collective experiences of art, and look for different relations between artists and audiences and artists and their role in society.

  • Gain insight in the social and cultural role of art when used by artists who seek direct relations and responses to their work through collaboration and participation.

  • Reflect on the role of assembly in contemporary art, politics and society and examine relationships between cultural, organizational, and societal performances.

  • Develop a worldview on the development of modern and contemporary art that takes in diverse locations and local art traditions of art next to international, trans-national, and transcultural experiences of art.

  • ResMA students will be required to present an extensive bibliography of scholarly resources on performance art, action art and art and participation with their oral presentation and submit this with their final paper.


The timetables are available through My Timetable.

Mode of instruction

  • Seminar

  • Self-study

  • Fieldtrip/ excursion (to be determined)

Attendance is compulsory and students are invited to actively participate in the course. Students are allowed to miss a maximum of two seminars, provided they present a valid reason beforehand. Students who have missed more than two seminars will have to apply to the Examination Board of the Ma Arts and Culture in order to obtain permission to further follow and complete the course.

Assessment method

  • The seminar is a 3 hours per week course, in which we all together discuss the course books, bring in additional literature and research materials, students give presentations, participate in discussions, reflect on the issues discussed, collaborate in assignments, write their literature review, and write their final paper;

  • Excursion (to be determined);

  • Oral presentation;

  • Final paper.

ResMA students who take this course will write a paper that reflects the demands of the Research Master, meaning that they will have to formulate more complex and original research questions than the MA coursework students, include a critical positioning towards the state of the art of its subject and reflect on the discipline with new perspectives. ResMA produce an additional 1000 words for their midterm assignment and an additional 1000 words for their final paper.


  • Oral presentation 25%

  • Midterm assignment (2000 words) 25%

  • Final Paper (3000 words) 50%

The final grade is the weighted average of the three components.
All assignments need to be a pass.


The final grade is established by determination of the weighted average and should be a 6.0 or higher. Marks under 5.0 for the individual assignments are not allowed.


There is a resit possibility for every component.

Inspection and feedback

How and when an exam review will take place will be disclosed together with the publication of the exam results at the latest. If a student requests a review within 30 days after publication of the exam results, an exam review will have to be organized.

Reading list

  • Claire Bishop, ed. Participation. London, Whitechapel Gallery, 2006

  • Diana Taylor. Performance. Durham and London, Duke University Press, 2016

  • Judith Butler. Notes Toward a Performative Theory of Assembly. Cambridge, Massachusetts, Harvard University Press, 2018

Additional literature will be announced through Brightspace during the course.


Enrolment through uSis is mandatory. You can register until two weeks after classes have started however students are advised to register as soon as possible and preferably before the start of the course. In the case of electives: please be aware that most electives have a maximum amount of students who can enroll. Do not approach the course instructor in case the class is full. You will automatically be put on a waiting list.

Registration Studeren à la carte and Contractonderwijs

Not applicable.


  • For substantive questions, contact the lecturer listed in the right information bar.

  • For questions about enrolment, admission, etc, contact the Education Administration Office: Arsenaal