Duration, cultural programming and sensemaking

  • Deirdre Mackenna

    Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


    As its case study, this Ph.D. examines a programme of contemporary art projects that took place over four years, between 2014 and 2018, which was made as part of the work of Cultural Documents, an independent organisation of which the author is the founding director.

    The research sought to understand how a durational programme method can contribute to the sensemaking processes of the people who engage with it, and the thesis does two things:

    -demonstrates the work of the programmer within a new ‘Stakeholders model’ which describes constituents through the relational perspectives of two groups comprising the producers and the consumers. These two groups are arranged in a front-stage/back-stage formation although movement between them is inherent. As durational programming aims to facilitate that fluidity of roles, the programme enabled these two groups to consider, reflect upon and make sense of matters of common concern relating to memory, place and human migration and their impact upon identity, community, language, territory and terrain.

    -examines the case study as a method of a cultural programme in relation to interpretations of duration and sensemaking. These are illustrated as a conceptual framework which permits consideration of how the programme method deepens and alters the impact of individual, momentary events through a method of sustained engagement with cultural content.

    The programme method and discussion of duration and sensemaking contribute to discourses on the durational cultural programme as an entity and the role of culture as an agent in societal development.

    The case study programme and its evaluation were structured through a managed process of research, one-day and durational events, texts, ongoing dialogues and semi-formal recorded interviews. This addressed subjects and themes which relate to one community of people who live in multiple locations and was produced in locations where this community lives and works;
    -the heritage/home location (the parish of Filignano and town of Venafro in the region of Molise, Italy) and
    -the diaspora/other locations, in cities in Italy, France, Belgium, Scotland, USA and Australia.

    The whole case study programme comprised 58 events; of these
    -29 events were produced exclusively by the researcher in the heritage/home locations and
    -13 events were produced exclusively by the researcher in the diaspora/other locations.,
    -16 events were produced in collaboration with delivery partners, such as museums, galleries, publications, festivals, conferences and others which further distributed and presented the case study.
    Date of Award2019
    Original languageEnglish
    SupervisorEuan McArthur (Supervisor), Patricia Whatley (Supervisor) & James Williams (Supervisor)

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