In her book The Participatory Museum Nina Simon presents ideas for making art galleries and museums more relevant and dynamic. One chapter is called Co-Creating with Visitors. I saw a great example of co-creation when I visited the Musée de la civilisation à Québec.
A gallery featured photographs of Chinese Ghost Cities. China has been trying to keep their economy vibrant with all kinds of building projects. They have created whole cities just to keep people employed but more than 90% of the buildings in these cities are uninhabited.
Replicas of Paris, London, Manhatten, Dubai and Florence have been built in China by Chinese construction workers but no one lives in them.
In her installation A Town to Populate artist Karine Giboulo has created her own ghost city of skyscrapers, roads, houses and shopping malls but they don’t have any people in them. Visitors to the gallery are invited to take balls of modeling clay from bins near the exhibit and use the tools provided to create people for the town.
Lots of gallery visitors had taken on the artist’s challenge. Here is the little person I created for A Town To Populate.
Karine Giboulo has truly created a participatory installation that invites those who come to see her exhibit to be co-creators with her. Participatory art is an exciting new way cultural institutions are trying to engage their visitors and make their exhibits more relevant and meaningful.