Inspired by the Lawyers protest in Pakistan in 2007, when Mirza and Butler stood within the National Museum observing the demonstrations outside, the Museum of Non Participation began as a critique and ultimately exploration of the political agency of the Museum through what the artist’s call the space of the NON. Such a space they have inhabited alternatively as a contested folded space of the non-place, the non-object, the non-image, no.w.here – a not for profit space founded in 2004 --an aesthetics of fatigue, an aesthetics of resistance. For the Museum of Non Participation the place of the NON is at once a radical critique of the Museum which often and has historically stood by as a mute witness. But it also reference the fact that far from the etymology of Museum which is a “house of the muses,” the Museum of Non Participation redefines the traditional architectural typology, transforming it from a shelter that houses objects, to a literal sign that travels around. The sign, which is alternatively printed (as shown here) or neon is written in English and Urdu opens a discursive space and forum. Most recently the Museum of Non Participation has begun to collect and examine the space between historical museological collections and collectivity as it relates to agent and activist practices. Such an exploration has been spurred and reacts to contemporary events, from the riots in London, to the occupation outside St. Paul Cathedral to Occupy Wall Street, to an exhibition of the Government Collection at the Whitechapel Gallery, amidst severe budget cuts to cultural programming and education in the UK. “Act 00023,” and “Act 00010” stand as emblematic image-objects – jointly held within the Museum of Non Participation and ASAP.
The Museum of Non Participation was sponsored by Artangel. Based in London but working across Britain and beyond, Artangel commissions and produces exceptional projects by outstanding contemporary artists. Over the past two decades, the projects have materialised in a range of different sites and situations and in countless forms of media. Artangel’s work is powered by the belief that artists are capable of creating visionary works which impact upon the way we view our world, our times and ourselves in unusual and enduring ways. Many Artangel projects are given shape by a particular place and time. They can involve journeys to unfamiliar locations, from underground hangars to abandoned libraries. Or sometimes they can offer unfamiliar experiences in more familiar environments – a terraced house, a department store or daytime television. This open-ended approach to the artistic process has seen Artangel generate some of the most talked-about, contentious and acclaimed art of recent times, including work by Francis Alÿs, Matthew Barney, Jeremy Deller, Douglas Gordon, Roni Horn, Steve McQueen, Michael Landy, Brian Eno, Gregor Schneider, Robert Wilson and Rachel Whiteread.