Group Matters

Saioa Olmo Alonso
Sabel Gavaldón (curator, A Museum of Gesture)
22 Jun / 26 Jun, 2015
Cittadellarte, Biella
TOPICS/TAGS: group behaviour, behavioural art, participation, temporality, creation of situations, art experiences, interactions, cybernetics, relational systems, transactions

Group Matters is a module on group dynamics. It is an art laboratory to research about how relationships happen in groups. It focuses on generating practical knowledge to be applied to participatory art projects, as well as awareness of the transformative potential of art when applied to power relationships within social situations.

Group Matters is a series of experimental group sessions on human interactions through artistic devices. Different situations are created for working on specific themes through the experience of the participants. The group is considered as a powerful gear of common knowledge and art is taken to the encounter of group behaviours to find new ways to unveil, appoint and transform them.

Group Matters is a methodology in progress, the complicity of its participants is crucial for it to continue evolving and for getting shared outcomes that everyone in the group can utilise as tools on in their respective practices. To date, several dynamics have been designed and tested: “The Line: Binomies, Borders and Dual Thinking” (on cultural identity), “Eromechanics: The Erotic of the Social Machinery” (on libidinous power relationships in social structures), “Interdependencies” (on live sociograms) and “Behavioural Choreographies” (on deconstruction of habits).

Group Matters is the final phase of the larger research project “TRANSART. Participative art practices and social behaviour”, focussing on behavioural aspects of participatory art practices.


June 22nd

Detecting interrelationships
morning  (10:30 - 12:30)
Guided tour to Cittadellarte, including the Pistoletto, Arte Povera collections and temporary exhibitions (curated by Luca Furlan)
Sociograms as tools for acknowledging and visualizing relationships.
Interdependencies. A life sociogram to work about relational contexts in which interdependencies and relative positions are significant.
night (10:00 pm)
Film: The Wave (Die Welle) (2008. Directed by Dennis Gansel. 107 min) or Dogville (2003. Directed by Lars Von Trier. 117 min) 

June 23rd
Displaying interactions
morning (10:00 am – 2:00 pm)
Life sociograms. Inventing different ways of sociograms for understanding a scene.
Audio-visual Source Code on Group Behaviours. A narration about group behaviours through fragments of films.
Psicodrama. Choosing one of the screened situations to explore it through the projections of each one’s experiences on it.
night (10:00 pm)
Film: The Exterminating Angel (El Ángel Exterminador) (1962. Directed by Luis Buñuel. 93 min) 

June 24th
Role Games
Presenting the idea of role game and matters related to participatory processes in art that can be explored through it.
The Line. A role game on the idea of limit, border and identity.
Inventing other possible role games.
Sharing ideas of selected texts on participatory art and group behaviour while walking through Biella.
Suggested film: “Them” by Artur Zmijewski (2007) 27 min.

June 25th
Power Relationships
Special Guest - Sabel Gavaldón on “A Museum of Gesture” 
Dynamic on gestures and power relationships. Exploring in groups correlations among gestures and social classes, gender distinctions and group identity. Individual, peer and group gestures.
Re-enactment of Eromechanics. Using the dialogues of this performance about libidinous fluxes on human interactions to re-experience power relationships through them.
Suggested film: “The Method”, directed by Marcelo Piñeyro (2005) 115 min.

June 26th
Performative strategies for de-constructing behaviours
Destabilising power structures through performative strategies and the creativity of the group. Proposed exercises: “Words of plasticine”,Joining voices”, “Chained Gestures” and “The surrealist conference”.
Proposed exercise: “Inertias”, sculpting inertias and trying to evolve them with the help of the group.
Integration & closing.

The mentor will prepare a reader for participants with key texts, some of which will be discussed during the week.

ARDENNE, Paul. Un arte contextual. Creación artística en medio urbano, en situación, intervención, de participación. Murcia: Cendeac, 2002

BISHOP, Claire (ed). Participation. London: Whitechapel; Cambridge Mass: The MIT Press, 2006

BISHOP, Claire. Artificial Hells. Participatory Art and the Politics of Spectatorship. Londron, New York: Verso, 2012

BUTLER, Judith. Mecanismos Psíquicos del Poder. Madrid: Cátedra, 2001

DUARTE, Ignasi y BERNAT, Roger. Querido Público: El espectador ante la participación: jugadores, usuarios, prosumers y fans. Barcelona: Centro Párraga, Cendeac y Elèctrica Produccions, 2009

EVANS, Gregory S. Art Alienated: An Essay on the Decline of Participatory Art. 1989. [on-line]. [Entrance: 25-7-2012],

FERNÁNDEZ, Ana María. De lo imaginario social a lo imaginario grupal. Revista Actualidad sicológica, Colombia, November 1992

RANCIÈRE, Jacques. El espectador emancipado. Castellón: Ellago ed., 2010

The Century of the Self. Documental, 4 part, Directed by Adam Curtisek, Distributed by BBC Four, United Kingdom, 2002



Saioa Olmo is an artist and researcher interested in the mysterious beings that people are: with their manias, passions, patterns of behaviour and unpredictability… and above all the way they relate to each other and the contexts within which they move. She explores power relationships from the disruptive field of art.

Saioa has been working about “cultural identity”, “gender & feminism” and “mechanisms of desire” through collaborative and participative art processes. She is now delving into these issues in light of collective behaviour.

Derived from her artistic creation on participatory art, Saioa is now conducting a Phd research on “Participatory Art Practice and Social Behaviour”.

Sabel Gavaldon (b. 1985, Barcelona) is an independent curator and researcher based in London. In 2012, he graduated from the Curating Contemporary Art programme at the Royal College of Art. Recent projects include the exhibitions “Axolotlism” at Galería Nogueras-Blanchard, Madrid; “M/Other Tongue” at Tenderpixel, London (2015); “Contretemps” at CaixaForum, Barcelona; “Llocs comuns” at Can Felipa, Barcelona (2014); and “A Museum of Gesture” at La Capella, Barcelona (2013). “A Museum of Gesture” is an ongoing research project that explores the potential of gesture, body movement and style as forms of semiotic resistance adopted by subordinate groups and political minorities.

download the full documentation about the module and the mentor in PDF format

Participation fee
570.00 €