Cabinet of Generosities

Arianna Richardson, Abigail Boucher, Carolyn Defrin, Christiane Bouger, Joseph Connelly, Kirsty Máté, Mark Fisher, Mark Harvey, Clara Rocha, Nick Kline, Rebecca Ann Hobbs, Tomaž Krpič, Richard Gough, Walmeri Ribeiro

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    Into the twenty-four pages that follow, we have curated twelve case studies in generosity. Far from a comprehensive or representative sampling, this is an idiosyncratic collection drawn from the proposals we received. We have borrowed the historical form of a ‘cabinet of curiosities’, collating objects of study that are not congruent in form to create a suggestive exhibit of artefacts and analyses.

    Written in some cases by the artists themselves and in others by a second party, these entries demonstrate a wide range of practice-based approaches to generosity. Though all the showcased artists make performances, the approaches run the gamut from theatrical to durational, from high tech to low.The projects use diverse strategies (kissing, begging, recycling, cleansing, healing) to explore a range of themes (housing, infertility, immigration, racism, colonialism, resistance, consumerism).

    Just as the artists represented have varied approaches to generosity, so too the writers have taken a number of different approaches to the task we gave them, which was to provide, along with photographic documentation, a concise description of the project and a cogent analysis of the way that generosity works within it. Some have written manifestos while others have shared vocabularies. They voice history, testimony and poetry.

    Many works might fall under the rubric of ‘social practice art’. Most take place outside the context of traditional theatres, in community spaces or the public sphere, and most are interactive, engaging audience members as active participants in the construction of the artwork and its meaning.

    We can look to these works not only for abstract philosophical enquiry but also for explorations of generosity as practice. Some are celebratory of generosity and others critical. Some deploy generosity for its generative potential while others put up straw figures that expose its limits. Perhaps most interestingly, as the works enter into and are received by varied cultures and contexts, they reveal distinct and nuanced situations for the circulation of generosity.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)93-120
    Number of pages2
    JournalPerformance Research
    Issue number6
    Publication statusPublished - 5 Dec 2018


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