Art For The People, With The People

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The grand European art project Magic Carpets embraced the idea that artists should work directly with communities. As its curators prepare the final exhibition in Kaunas, we dig deeper into this hierarchical shift.

Ki Hyun Park, an artist and curator from Germany, is exploring police profiling and other public space issues together with young men who hang out in Moabiter Staat Garden park in Berlin – they share creative tasks and financial resources for their video documentary.

Dejan Krstić, an illustrator from Novi Sad, Serbia, turned an abandoned hospital room into a place for people to reflect on their childhood with their drawings and writings.

Those are just two examples of hundreds of artists and curators who met each other during the Magic Carpets project, which connected 15 European countries and continued for four years. The intention was to turn the audience from passive consumers of art into active participants. Did it succeed?

Hear the podcast episode above.

<p>Artist Dejan Krstić outside of his exhibition space in Hvar, Croatia: „Participatory element allowed people to question their childhood in the manner that it wouldn’t be possible if I did a traditional exhibition.“ ©Berta Tilmantaitė</p>

Artist Dejan Krstić outside of his exhibition space in Hvar, Croatia: „Participatory element allowed people to question their childhood in the manner that it wouldn’t be possible if I did a traditional exhibition.“ ©Berta Tilmantaitė

<p>“Creative Movement Laboratory”, founded by contemporary dancers Mantas Stabačinskas and Vasara Visockaitė, broke the barriers of who can dance between people with disabilities and able-bodied people. ©Mindaugas Drigotas</p>

“Creative Movement Laboratory”, founded by contemporary dancers Mantas Stabačinskas and Vasara Visockaitė, broke the barriers of who can dance between people with disabilities and able-bodied people. ©Mindaugas Drigotas

<p>For artist Ki Hyun Park to share the finances of her project with people from the community was an ethical obligation: „It’s simple: the community is also working for the project. Not only an artist and curator. I thought it was fair.“ ©Berta Tilmantaitė</p>

For artist Ki Hyun Park to share the finances of her project with people from the community was an ethical obligation: „It’s simple: the community is also working for the project. Not only an artist and curator. I thought it was fair.“ ©Berta Tilmantaitė

<p>Neringa Kulik, the director of Kaunas Biennal and project manager of Magic Carpets: &#34;It’s important to make art and culture accessible. Art’s purpose is not to be decorative. Its purpose is to react and change.&#34; ©Severina Venckutė</p>

Neringa Kulik, the director of Kaunas Biennal and project manager of Magic Carpets: "It’s important to make art and culture accessible. Art’s purpose is not to be decorative. Its purpose is to react and change." ©Severina Venckutė

<p>Magic Carpets curators and artists are listening to each other's updates in Hvar, Croatia. ©Berta Tilmantaitė</p>

Magic Carpets curators and artists are listening to each other's updates in Hvar, Croatia. ©Berta Tilmantaitė

<p>Serbian artist Dejan Krstić in his exhibition space in Hvar, Croatia ©Berta Tilmantaitė</p>

Serbian artist Dejan Krstić in his exhibition space in Hvar, Croatia ©Berta Tilmantaitė

NARA team has been documenting the development of the Magic Carpets project since 2017. See some of the snapshots from the project:

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