The Museum of non participation 2007-2016

Artist statement

Launched with Artangel Interaction, The Museum of non Participation  situated itself as a museum without walls, inspired by its founders  experiences moving between their home in Bethnal Green and the city of  Karachi in Pakistan from 2007-2009. The resulting ‘socially engaged  practice’ from 2007-2016 included interventions, newspapers, wall  chalking, reading groups, language exchange, performance lectures,  audioworks, walks, political theatre, and Speech Acts. The Museum  launched in London in a space behind a barbers shop on Bethnal Green  Road where Butler and Mirza hosted a space for language exchange between  Urdu and English Speakers. A newspaper collecting a multitude voices on  this project was published as a supplement in collaboration with one of  Pakistan's largest media grouos: the Daily Jang. The Museum culminated  in 2016 in a solo exhibition at the Sydney Biennale.: ‘The Embassy of  non Participation

Original Museum of Non Participation Manifesto

The Museum of Non Participation confronts (non) participation and the  socio-political in art works. Non Participation is not a negation, it is  a threshold a political plastic that expands and contracts, that is  both unstable and malleable. This is an international neoliberal life  condition, frequently (un) consciously exercised in the excess of one's  own society, often gained at the expense of another's nameless plight  elsewhere. Whilst locally it can be witnessed, for example, in the  moment urgent social issues are both recognized and simultaneously  ignored or rejected. It is also a structure including, in the UK, the  filtering of government and corporate policies and agendas through the  arts and arts funding.

Museums interrelate hierarchy and  exclusion, social critique and (post) colonization. So The Museum of Non  Participation embeds its institutional critique in its very title  yet  it releases itself from being an actual museum. Instead it travels as a  place, a slogan, a banner, a performance, a newspaper, a film, an  intervention, an occupation sitautions that enable this museum to act.  Thus the Museum of Non Participation does not disavow art objects, but  it is driven to dislodge them from their central position within the  field of art. To choose to look past the art object to the etymology of  object, from the Latin obicere, meaning to present, oppose, or cast or  throw in the way of.

This Museum explores obicere through  multiple, ephemeral   processes: artworks as well as events and actions  that neither the founding artists nor museums possess through sole  authorship. In a similar vein, The Museum of Non Participation  approaches collecting as not merely assembling objects, but as an act  that assembles and ushers forth action and agency and does so through  disruption. It asks how withdrawal can be made visible? how can non  participation be active and critical? 

The Museum of Non  Participation is one aspect of Noor Afshan Mirza and Brad Butlers wider  artistic practice, an investigation of the terms and conditions of  images, objects, collaboration, dialogue and the social.

image25 2004-2018

Additional Information


From 2004, to 2018 was a not for profit artist run organization based in  Tower Hamlets that combined film production alongside critical dialogue  about contemporary image making. As an artist run platform  supported the production of artist works, runs multiple workshops and  critical discussions, and actively curated performances, screenings,  residencies, publications, events and exhibitions.'s national  and international projects explored political and aesthetic questions  around contemporary image production and systems of distribution and's ideas came directly from a participatory artistic practice  that did not take these terms for granted. was committed to  high quality collaborations from major museums to local initiatives.  Projects included "The Cinema of Prayoga": a 5 year research  project and UK tour of Indian Experimental film: "The Free Cinema  School" a contemporary film pedagogy: "Sequence": a new journal of  artists writing on the moving image: "Light Reading a platform for  direct discussion between artist and audience: "Instructions for Films"  films made without the camera and "Image | Event" a platform for  critical discourse within the "Image Mouvement" exhibition at the Centre  for Contemporary Art Geneva.'s bespoke film equipment was not available anywhere else in the UK.

Need analogue film support?

James Holcombe who ran with us for many years now runs his own film facilities. To get in contact with him use the contact below