Performative Artistic Research: Ioannis Karounis
Athens - Amsterdam
Master: Performing Public Space

Through 2 workshops in Amsterdam and in Athens, we created a toolkit with artistic games and props, which all passengers can use in order to interact with others in public transport. My aim is to empower citizens to transform the non-place (Augé, 1995) in means of public transportation into performance space/time and, subsequently, social space/time (Lefebvre, 1991) through a creative form of civic encounter.

Public transport is not only a public utility and a means of accessing other public places; it is also itself a mobile public space (Paget-Seekins & Tironi, 2016). Using public transport is an outdoor "necessary activity," which is more or less compulsory, such as going to work or waiting for a bus, where people are in passive contact with each other -they only see and hear other people- and only minimum activity takes place (Ghel, J. 2011, p. 9-13)


Since the beginning of the project, my artistic vision has shifted along with my research questions - which became more specific and more effective in addressing the research topic I have been inquiring into. My original research question interrogated the boundaries between the performer and the spectator, pointing to the potential of a performance act to enable the spectator to become a performer temporarily. Gradually, the focus of my research shifted from the dichotomy between the performer and the spectator to raising citizens' artistic and social awareness through creative civic engagement and empowerment, thus seeking to do away with the distinction and the distance between "performer" and "spectator" altogether.

Research question 

  • How can citizens consciously intervene in everyday life through performative artistic practices in means of public transportation?  
  • How can citizens perceive everyday life - including executing "daily routines and tasks"- as performance? 
  • How can the temporality and spatiality of public transit be transformed from waiting time and space into co-created communicative time and space?

I dance in the shadows of the public and the personal.

I travel between the rational and the irrational, between fantasy and reality.

I invite you to a trip whose purpose is the journey, to introduce you to my friends, the known and the unknown, the transient, the ephemeral, the everyday.

People, passing by, hurrying along, watch me, thousands of them swarm to my temporary island, my railcarriage, my home. They sit down across from me smiling at me. 

Do you want to play? 

Do you want to play? 

In this game, there is neither winner nor loser. The realization of the significance, and yet the insignificance of my existence gives me balance.

There is no stop-free trip, just as there is no stop without a traveller.

I liken life to a string that pulsates and is constantly reshaped at any moment without specific angles or bows and sides, a string that offers us no chance to measure it. This is the field that concerns me primarily, the general reshaping taking place on all levels.

I don't separate life from creation nor do I separate art from life.

I bear responsibility for the act of everyday life, conscious of the whole and of the future. I am a sensor of the universe and my actions are recorded and return to me, not so much in the form of punishment or reward, rather as the trajectory I pursue in my own significant/insignificant life.

Ioannis Karounis

Special Thanks

Vasso Pappi, Stali Simeon, Maria Pisiou, Ina Varka, Yannis Koimtzis , Orestis Alexiadis, Angeliki Pantazi, Zafiria Tsirakaki, Dimitra Roustani, Giorgios Skantzaris, Nancy Papaioannou, Nicole Koimtzi, Elisavet Pliakostathi, Rafica Chawishe, Marilena Chrysanthou, Prodromos Tsirogiannis, Hoon Heleen H. de, David Limaverde, Danai Theodoridou, Xenia Tsompanidou , Ulla Havenga.

Ioannis Karounis

Amsterdam -Athens


Bibliographical and Artistic References

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Beauchet, O., Bastien, T., Mittelman, M., Hayashi, Y., Hau Yan Ho, A. (2020),"Participatory art-based activity, community-dwelling older adults and changes in health condition: Results from a pre-post intervention, single-arm, prospective and longitudinal study," Maturitas, 2020, April, 134, pp.8-14, doi: 10.1016/j.maturitas.2020.01.006. Epub 2020 Jan 13. PMID: 32143777.

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