Projectraisetheroof's Blog


MIND THE GAP: SPATIAL DYNAMICS, EVENT PRODUCTION AND THE PARTICIPATION OF FESTIVAL AUDIENCES

The following abstract is a work in progress. I will hopefully have a draft of this done by the end of the month. Hopefully this will contain an exploration of the following..

– How are different event spaces revealing of the way artists become distinguished and separate from their audiences?
– How do festival layouts reveal assumptions about a hierarchy of performance?
– Do Boutique festivals alter this hierarchy through a shift in event design, use of space and an increased prioritising of installation art?
– Does this shift contribute to a ‘democratisation of performance’?

Boutique festivals are becoming complex systems of entertainment. Though many adopt a conventional list of features (the main stage, the dance tent, the acoustic tent, etc); the number of ancillary activities and participative installations has proliferated, and the nature of festival experience changed. With the aim of investigating this change, this chapter will explore the connection between the spatial construction of convivial space and the performativity of festival audiences. The shift in style and approach to festival production that is observable (to different extents) at England’s Secret Garden Party, Glade, Standon Calling and Ireland’s Electric Picnic, I will argue lends itself to a mode of experience that is increasingly performative. Spatial geography is one dimension of festival production that is deterministic not only of the physical movement of audiences but, more subtly, of the horizons of expectation that govern participative behaviour. The increased complexity of the British festival has changed audience interaction with the (prescribed) artists on stage, with the contextual space, and with each other. This change is both subtle and discerning of the ‘cultural performativity’ described in Lee Gilmore’s analysis of Nevada’s Burning Man festival, and Vicky-Ann Cremona’s exploration of Carnival in Malta. Employing their theoretical framework, I explore how event design and use of space can both alienate and empower the festival audience.