Pablo Calderon: Art & design interventionism and long-term participation: an uneasy relation?

Doctoral Project

Pablo Calderon, PhD in the Arts

This research inquires how design as an interventionist practice and design interventions can play a role in allowing people who are usually neglected from the public arena, to have a voice and have the opportunity to participate. In the face of the current crisis of democracy, where ordinary people are every day further from their representatives and have less direct power on the decisions that affect them, the urge for art and design practices that intervene in everyday life and positively affect it (not just represent it) seems more relevant day-by-day. The de-politization of public space, each day more subject to a capitalist market-driven logic, is a clear symptom of this situation, but it also makes it (public space) a relevant context to intervene. But a challenge lies ahead: to avoid window-dressing initiatives, common of A&D practices in participatory contexts, and develop sustained initiatives that allow people to take an active role in processes that affect them.


  • Dr. Veerle Van der Sluys (supervisor, KU Leuven/LUCA)
  • Dr. Dirk De Grooff (co-supervisor, KU Leuven)
  • Dr. Liesbeth Huybrechts (co-supervisor, UHasselt)

Research Unit: Inter-Actions

Public defense: April 19 2021

Publications and realisations

This video documents a performative walk I organised on Friday the 19th of March of 2021, as a way of sharing the central elements of my doctoral research, in a place that allowed me to 'ground' most of the reflections made throughout: Genk. Together with the physical thesis and the walk in itself, this video makes part of the creation (artistic) component of my PhD in the Arts at LUCA School of Arts / KU Leuven. Idea and production: Pablo Calderón Salazar Music: Wa Make by Don Luca (used with his permission) Camera and edition: Julien Mus