Collaboration Vs. Participation

Our collaboration started when students from the School of Art and Design History and Theory and the School of Design Strategies came together with the professors to curate a show for the Parsons Festival. The student curators working with the student artists who were participating in the exhibit to accurately and creatively deliver the artists’ ideas to the viewers was the second round of collaboration. The attendee’s comments on the yellow post-it notes and their engagement with the pieces made up the final collaboration, which was between the visitors and the works.

Or Zubalsky, a senior majoring in Design and Technology, created Meeting Table (2013-2014), focusing on the idea of collaboration. His purpose was that when people came to engage with his work, he wanted them to collaborate rather than participate. When people participate, it usually entails different levels of power coming together where the weaker power usually submits to the stronger power. However, with collaboration, different powers join forces and work together for the same purpose, here, being a melodic heartbeat. Each person’s heartbeat contributes to a rhythm and that rhythm comes together in one sound in the Arsonson Gallery.

Inspired by Adriana Cavarero who studied the relationship between speech and politics, Zubalsky wanted to explore the idea of collaboration without linguistics. Putting a stethoscope over one’s heart, some heartbeats would beat louder and stronger than others. As a result, through the Meeting Table, the collaborators could realize their lack of control over their body (unlike speech, where you have full control).

The theme to our show was called Making/Meaning. Probably one of the most significant Making/Meaning that occurred was the making of collaboration and the meaning that the student curators, student artists, and viewers were able to take with them through works like Zubalsky’s Meeting Table.



-Jane Oh