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Sruti Bala

In the context of contemporary art, the concept of 'institutional critique' refers to the scrutiny of the power of institutions through artistic means. This chapter focuses on the challenges and conundrums of institutional critique from the vantage point of participatory practices. It examines the formation of participatory art as a genre, specifically community-based, applied art, as emergent from the critique of mainstream art institutions. The chapter examines their disciplinary configurations within the arts. The history of participatory theatre practices across the world testifies to an institutional critique in a combination of gestures of fleeing from, forging new and transforming existing relationships to institutions. The chapter also examines the institutional affiliations and entanglements of participatory projects, and how they operate within or against their supporting institutions in different ways. The disciplinary variations of participatory art demonstrate how nomenclature is a contextual practice.

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Sruti Bala

Audience participation consists of the deceptively simple act of around twenty people pitching tents on the site, spending the night there and leaving the next morning after sharing breakfast together. Participation is a central concept to Nomad City Passage, which explores lived experiences of urban spaces, asking how the sites of a city are experienced by its inhabitants. The curatorial concept of the documentation in 'Normality' emphasizes participation in spatial terms. 'Normality' is a collage of images and ambient sounds from the camping sites in Linz. Access to such documents, given the absence of an opportunity to participate directly in the event, provides a rich archive for analysing various aspects of people's participation in the artwork and the artwork's participation in public life. The participation is presented as the positively connoted response to two interconnected problems: to the absence of autonomous artistic value and to the commercialization of modern art.

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Conclusion

Between image, act, body and language

Sruti Bala

This chapter argues that participatory art practices need to be understood in conjunction with the anxieties and contradictions that accompany them. The analysis of participatory art and the conceptualization of participation in and through art thereby become intertwined in complex ways. The interpretation of participatory practices through the register of the gestural is to rethink participation while accommodating its contradictions and disquietudes. In mapping out the concept, gesture recurs as a foil to four interconnected realms: language, the body, the image and the act. The gestures of language are inseparable from imagery, they bring forth images, hint at grasping language through a different, non-discursive dimension. At the same time gestures are themselves dynamized images, they introduce observable movement into an image, with a beginning and an end. In its mediation between the body and language, the chapter identifies the notion of the gesture aptly captures the paradoxes of participatory art.

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Private home, artistic stage

The circulation and display of interior dreamscapes

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Anca I. Lasc

Pierre-Luc Cicéri, chief decorator at the Paris Opéra, also established a career as interior decorator and educator of students that treated interior spaces as three-dimensional images and artworks in their own right. Cicéri’s followers helped push the art of fantasy architecture to a new level, creating a new form of art and popular entertainment around the “ideal home.” Exhibited at the Salon and at a variety of universal and decorative arts exhibitions as well as published in expensive, luxury folios and reprinted in cheaper, popular editions, the “interior dreamscapes” by Cicéri’s followers disseminated the interior for interior’s sake. The domestic interior could be admired, collected, hidden inside cabinets, or reappropriated as an object of contemplation for private walls. The same images functioned as two-dimensional blueprints for the construction of three-dimensional settings and as advertising schemes for the artists that produced and popularized them, furthering interest in and creating a common language about the appearance of the modern, private home. The chapter ultimately argues that wishful thinking and vicarious identification with the - often missing - owners of the model interiors made available through these means and furtively perused in private homes helped create a professional niche that would soon be occupied by the interior designer.

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The inventor of interiors

Old professions in search of a name

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Anca I. Lasc

The focus here is on the visual and written records of three professional groups – upholsterers, cabinet-makers, and architects – that each made claims to the art and business of interior decorating. After a brief history of these groups in the pre-revolutionary era, the chapter examines their new status quo and quest for legitimacy in the nineteenth century and in the aftermath of the abolition of guilds and trades. To secure clients, they emphasized artistic skill over practical requirements or commercial interests. Dramatically different images and writings about the professions developed as a result. If the trade literature was filled with practical advice specific to each profession - including educational opportunities, union requirements, and claims to the status of rightful interior decorators over other professional groups - the more widely-circulating pattern books or illustrations in popular journals included a portfolio of images with minimal information. The latter favored creativity over practical considerations, blurring boundaries between professions and proposing unified, themed interiors where every element occupied a unique and pre-established position within a larger whole. Going beyond the requirements and expectations of their own trade organizations, together, upholsterers, cabinet-makers, and architects helped define the new profession of the proto-interior designer.

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Anca I. Lasc

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Interior decorating in nineteenth-century France

The visual culture of a new profession

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Anca I. Lasc

This book analyzes the early stages of the interior design profession as articulated within the circles involved in the decoration of the private home in the second half of nineteenth-century France. It argues that the increased presence of the modern, domestic interior in the visual culture of the nineteenth century enabled the profession to take shape. Upholsterers, cabinet-makers, architects, stage designers, department stores, taste advisors, collectors, and illustrators, came together to “sell” the idea of the unified interior as an image and a total work of art. The ideal domestic interior took several media as its outlet, including taste manuals, pattern books, illustrated magazines, art and architectural exhibitions, and department store catalogs.

The chapters outline the terms of reception within which the work of each professional group involved in the appearance and design of the nineteenth-century French domestic interior emerged and focus on specific works by members of each group. If Chapter 1 concentrates on collectors and taste advisors, outlining the new definitions of the modern interior they developed, Chapter 2 focuses on the response of upholsterers, architects, and cabinet-makers to the same new conceptions of the ideal private interior. Chapter 3 considers the contribution of the world of entertainment to the field of interior design while Chapter 4 moves into the world of commerce to study how department stores popularized the modern interior with the middle classes. Chapter 5 returns to architects to understand how their engagement with popular journals shaped new interior decorating styles.

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The image of furniture

Department stores and the trade in interior decoration designs

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Anca I. Lasc

Chapter 4 examines department store retail in the second half of the nineteenth century to understand how the interior decorating schemes proposed on paper by the various professions discussed above could materialize in the homes of middle-class consumers. In doing so, the chapter argues that department stores were eager to align themselves with the thriving market in artistic interior decoration designs, contributing to the further popularization of this new art form. Through their full-scale model rooms inside the store as much as through their widely distributed and highly illustrated furniture catalogs, the Grands Magasins du Louvre, Au Bon Marché, Le Printemps, Au Petit St.-Thomas, and the Grands Magasins Dufayel brought the image of the most modern furniture and matching interiors to life, right in front of customers’ eyes. By selling the same furniture combinations and decorative schemes in a variety of materials, these stores catered to several social groups at once. Further, by offering personalized interior decorating services to those customers who wished to obtain an exclusive décor, French department stores in the second half of the nineteenth century became themselves early forerunners of the twentieth-century profession of interior designer.

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Epilogue: The presentness of historicism

The Musée centennal du mobilier et de la décoration and the legacy of proto-interior designers

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Anca I. Lasc

The Epilogue charts the career of Georges Rémon, artistic grandchild of Pierre-Luc Cicéri. Rémon was an inventor of interior designs that took the historicist, themed aesthetic to a new level. Equally well-versed in revivalist and Art Nouveau interiors, Rémon also invented interior decorating schemes that paid lip service to the more recent political regimes of the nineteenth century (Second Republic style, Louis-Philippe style, Napoléon III style) as well as decorative settings in what would later become the Art Deco style. His workshop designed not only period rooms for the 1900 universal exhibition but also interiors of several ocean liners that brought the French aesthetic to America. His career is thus a perfect example of how the artistic output of upholsterers, cabinet-makers, architects, stage designers, illustrators, collectors and department store managers, directed towards the private interior, invented a “system,” which saw that unity and harmony, as expressed through one main theme and coordinated by the same person, would guide the design of each interior. Without the invention of this “system,” the twentieth-century profession of the interior designer might never have been born.

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The collector as taste advisor and interior decorator

Popular advice manuals and the orchestration of the private interior

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Anca I. Lasc

This chapter examines influential collecting and taste manuals from the second half of the nineteenth century dedicated to both a male, respectively a female, audience. After providing a brief history of collecting and its development in post-revolutionary France, the chapter explains how the visual and critical discourses about the proper appearance of the modern, private interior and about the arrangement of objects displayed therein informed the development of a new historicist, themed aesthetic. This new aesthetic required a mastermind to supervise the organization of each interior decorating ensemble within the upper as well as the middle-class private home - increasingly more decorated in the aftermath of the Industrial and Consumer Revolutions - paving the way to the work of the later interior decorators at the end of the nineteenth and the beginning of the twentieth century.