Bohmian Dialogue for 1916 Exhibition

From Critical Practice Chelsea
Jump to: navigation, search

You can find a recording of this dialogue here.

A collaboration with Scott Schwager

Marsha's Proposal

When: TBC (around March 18th, 2010)
Where: Triangle Space
What: A dialogue facilitated in collaboration with Scott Schwager and anyone who wishes to "interlocute". Together we'll form an assembly. Using David Bohm's approach to dialogue, interlocutors will dialogue without agenda. According to Bohm, this kind of freeform dialogue supports group thinking. It can lead to greater understanding of this complex process by highlighting the dynamics between individual/group points of view. In normative discussion, debate, conversation and other forms of exchange, individual interloctors often aim to make their ideas common by lodging them in a communicative flow. Bohmian dialogue, however, seeks to make understanding in common by developing something new and unexpected, borne of the interplay of different consciousnesses, different perspectives. So we could say that if this approach has an agenda, it is for the group to understand itself better (its shared knowledge, sociopolitcal dynamics, common/disparate desires, etc.).

Duration and Documentation: The dialogue will last approximately an hour and will (ideally) precede the critique of the exhibition 1916. Video and audio recordings will be made and photographs taken to document this engagement. Interlocutors will be informally interviewed in the days following the dialogue about their experience and impressions of the event. These reflections and documentation will be made available online for commentary.


  • Video camera
  • Audio recorder
  • Still camera

On the Day:

  1. Introduce interlocutors if necessary
  2. Scott and Marsha to introduce the principles of Bohmian dialogue (included below)
  3. Dialogue

Over Subsequent Days:

  1. Informally interview interloctors about their impressions of the event - audio recordings (?) video recordings (?)
  2. Curate all the documentation into an account of some kind (ideally, this will happen very quickly, like within a week)
  3. Present this curated documentation online and invite further commentary.
  4. Ideally, we'll hold a subsequent discussion aimed at reflecting on this process - Depending on the constituency of the dialogue, this could happen on a Tuesday night.

The principles of "Bohm Dialogue" are: source

  1. The group agrees that no group-level decisions will be made in the conversation. "...In the dialogue group we are not going to decide what to do about anything. This is crucial. Otherwise we are not free. We must have an empty space where we are not obliged to anything, nor to come to any conclusions, nor to say anything or not say anything. It's open and free" (Bohm, "On Dialogue", p.18-19.)"
  2. Each individual agrees to suspend judgement in the conversation. (Specifically, if the individual hears an idea he doesn't like, he does not attack that idea.) "...people in any group will bring to it assumptions, and as the group continues meeting, those assumptions will come up. What is called for is to suspend those assumptions, so that you neither carry them out nor suppress them. You don't believe them, nor do you disbelieve them; you don't judge them as good or bad...(Bohm, "On Dialogue", p. 22.)"
  3. As these individuals "suspend judgement" they also simultaneously are as honest and transparent as possible. (Specifically, if the individual has a "good idea" that he might otherwise hold back from the group because it is too controversial, he will share that idea in this conversation.)
  4. Individuals in the conversation try to build on other individuals' ideas in the conversation. (The group often comes up with ideas that are far beyond what any of the individuals thought possible before the conversation began.)


  • Are the interlocutors participants or collaborators?
  • Photo releases; audio releases (?) Tracking how these issues are engaged with could be an interesting aspect of the research.
  • How and where will the documentation of the dialogue be presented online? YouTube? CCW wiki? Chelsea wiki?
  • Assuming this dialogue involves a process of practice-based art research, where is the "art"? What is the "art"? Is it in the dialogue? Is it in the documentation of the dialogue? Is it in the fact the dialogue is non-instrumentalized? Is it essentializing to ask these questions?
  • What's are the art historical, social, political contexts in which this project resonates and how does it engage with these various traditions?

Return to Main Page * 1916 Exhibition, Symposium and Catalogue