The Story of CORNERS

Chapter 5: Participation

We will not be able to assess the success of this initiative by looking at the number of tickets sold or the magnificence of the fireworks in the closing event. Our aim is to put people in contact through art, to bring people together.

Chris Torch, artistic director of CORNERS, Sweden

Audience participation has been at the heart of CORNERS, not only during the presentation of our co-creations, but also as a part of their creation. Our unique model of production and the presentation of artworks in public and unusual spaces provoked this participation at a local level and drew threads between remote places on the edges of Europe.

I’ve seen projects try to do something similar in East Durham before, but they haven’t been as successful as Corners of Europe. They didn’t necessarily filter down to the local community, and Corners did. [...] More generally, I think the project has shown the people of East Durham that art doesn’t always have to be visual. I think they’ve been surprised at what art can mean and what can be possible – and that’s an important legacy too.

Michelle Harland, Founding Director and Manager at Creative Youth Opportunities, Peterlee, UK

I discovered many new places from within with help from local culture workers and I learned that so many people want to share their stories and are very pleased when someone perceive them. I learned a lot from these stories, the personal ones but also the broader stories about historical, ethnic issues.

Helena Wikström, artist, co-author of In Between and Hide or Reveal, Sweden

Audience participation and the process of co-creating artworks was enriching not only for the citizens and volunteers involved in the project, but also for our artists, especially those who have not made many participative projects before. Opening up the creative process to audience participation always means walking into unknown territory, but taking that risk brought many pleasant surprises we had not been able to imagine when devising our co-creations.

The best moment of the project was during a workshop with young people and their parents, where they were split up and asked to come up with questions for each other. Both groups embraced this scenario to elicit answers from a different generation on topics they cared deeply about. The young people came up with much more interesting questions than the parents.

Michael Hanna, artist, co-author of Windows, Northern Ireland

When defining CORNERS as a project, it was important for us to create opportunities – both for artists to work internationally and for audiences to get involved in artistic works. One word that appeared very often in our audience feedback showed us that we succeeded.

An unbeatable OPPORTUNITY to have different experiences.

An OPPORTUNITY to know and share with people from other latitudes and backgrounds.

A beautiful OPPORTUNITY to be/feel a ‘participative’ or ‘active’ citizen.

An OPPORTUNITY to be part of a society.

Corners has been a great opportunity to meet inspiring artists from other countries in Europe. It has been a great opportunity to meet people from different countries in Europe. Mine and Milijana’s project “Put yourself in my place” has been shown in several places and with interested visitors each time.

Ida Hansson, artist, co-author of Put yourself in my place, Umeå, Sweden

With the works we produced and the events we organized we wished not only to give people a voice, but to carry their voices to places they might not have even heard of, and to allow them to hear voices from distant places and people that are similar to them.

The Corners project was proof that people who live in countries like Italy, Croatia, Poland and Serbia have the same sort of concerns, experiences and problems that we share here.

Alison Paterson, manager at the Blackhall Community Centre, UK

In the end...

...CORNERS was a unique opportunity to bring international artistic projects to places in Europe that are outside of cultural, social or economic centers, to test new model of artistic production, and to engage many different audiences across Europe. Although CORNERS has come to the end of its journey, many parts of the project will continue their lives independently: through ideas that emerged from the process, collaborations between artists and partners, the co-creations themselves and the memories of people we met...