Between a Boat and Wall is a series discussing the theme of ‘public space’, ‘commons’ and ‘relationality’, not necessarily with reference to concrete examples, by artists, writers, and photographers. This article, by Nasri Shah, introduces other forthcoming articles in the series that include the Artist-Writer Pair Series featuring: ETC, Im Heung-Soon, Matthew Mazzotta. Read the full article in BrackMag Issue 1.

Many of us know the mythology of the participatory art practice, cultivated around particular fables of “art” and “life” that spring from a specific geography of the global North (North America, Western Europe, etc.). Yet these tales remain a mainstay in conversations around such artistic practices, even if somewhat ironically. So it was in recent conversations with artists and writers that I was able to revisit these narratives, perhaps even test them.

In devising this editorial series, we have been careful not to fix a conception of what theory might be. From a detention centre in Buenos Aires (Erika Teichert), to a glasshouse in London (Jasmine Er), various places become working grounds for new modes of theoretical writing and reflection. At the heart of this investigation is also an interest in the nature of the written word itself: what does it mean to inhabit different mediums like photo-essays and anecdotes (Teo Wen Jia) from which we can draw theoretical insights? In other words, these pieces are rarely argumentative and explore different potentialities through affect, dialogue (Im Heung- Soon) or representation. Like a good rubber band, we’re interested in the elasticity of theory here.