Museum of Non-Participation
Reflections on the word Act
Alex Fletcher
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  • The significance of the use of the noun/verb Act in The Museum of Non Participation performs several critical functions. The word Act takes on a shifting and transforming role through its morphing iterations; Act, through the addition of suffixs and prefixs becomes (abstr)act, act(ivity), act(ivism), act(uality). Act also denotes the varied manifestations the Museum takes; Act as theatre or performance, Act as direct speech acts, Act as activism or the activity of workshops and discussions, and Act as an act of intervention within an institution, a community, a history, politics; as a film, a sound-work, a text.

    The Museum of Non Participation conceives itself as a sprawling accumulation, or constellation of Acts. The Acts that are actualized through and in a multiplicity of forms and mediums are often individuated by the title of Act, followed by the works number (for example Act 00157). However, the non-sequential numbering of the Acts disrupts and counters the order and categorization that a numbering of artworks would seem to suggest. The idea of an individuated or autonomous artwork or Act is further agitated by the fact that the Acts number is preceded by zeros, construing the Act not as a finished product/object (object +1,2,3 etc.) but an unfinished process, a permanent activity. Additionally the zero connotes a before the Act, a platform or space for experiment and learning, in order to Act. Furthermore, it intimates that an Act by itself is not fully constituted; an Act on its own, is literally (abstr)act. The Act exists by virtue of the collection or collectivity it participates within. The Museum is constituted by an ensemble of Acts and relations the French term ensemble resonates here, as it describes a mode of comprehending the relations between whole and part in a non-hierarchical way.

    That is not to say that the singularity and particular historical, cultural, geo-political conjunctures that each Act intervenes or participates within is dissolved into an amorphous generality. Rather, the collections of Acts (specific interventions or works) through their collectivity reveal a set of relations, connections and differences. Acts are inscribed with the possibility of repetition or iterability. Speech acts, slogans, workshops can be repeated; films and research through a creative commoning can be worked on, re-edited and furthered. Film and experiment can also provide the potentiality to repeat what has not yet, in reality, occurred. Inseparable from the Acts is this ongoing, ever-unfinished, and unpredictable process. Acts are articulated through forms and mediums, in order to be shared, discussed, and critiqued; not as an addition to the work, but as an experimental process internal to the work itself, something that constitutes its unfolding.

    An Act can only develop by being driven out beyond itself, dissolved into a critical process of reflection and learning. The Museum itself an iterable space, place, platform, forum is what allows this process to take place. The Museum shifts the emphasis from the self-contained Act to a relational dynamic, perpetually in the process of transformation and becoming. Translation is thus an important part in this process. The independence, autonomy, self-sufficiency of Acts are transformed and altered through translation. Again, translation is not an addition that arrives after the (f)Acts production, but is a process intrinsic to the Act itself. The work is produced through the translation (or mis-translation) of voices that collectively produce it, and its afterlife via transportation, and transformation as it travels and traverses frames and contexts. Acts, through translation, travel and move, are perpetually iterated by being displaced, dislocated, and transformed; an activity and process that allows us to practice, experiment, and critically reflect on action and change.