multidisciplinary project Distributive Justice participated
in the Documenta11 show in Kassel in Germany from June 8 to
September 15, 2002.
is held every five years and is one of the significant exhibition
of contemporary art. Visitors had the opportunity to familiarize
themselves with all the important elements of the project, the results
obtained up to that point as well as the results of their own participation.
Some of these elements could be followed (and developed) on the
Internet, and some in the real space of the exhibit itself.
space in which the project was presented was organized as a "social
laboratory" divided into six points. This method of installing the
project in its entirety is applied at exhibitions where gallery
and organizational conditions allow for this. (This was done for
the first time at the Young Artists Biennale Big Torino in Italy
in April and May of 2002). By following the signs in the space,
visitors are included in various activities tied in with the theme
of the project: just distribution of common goods in society.
Point 0 the visitor-participant signs in their basic details,
receives a username and password.
At Point 1 they can start the game of distribution of common
goods on the Internet (money, freedom, status in society, possibilities
for advancement, public services, satisfaction). Players are asked
to distribute these goods in such a manner that is, according to
their understanding, the closest with the principles of justice.
For the duration of Documenta11, 3140 participants passed
through all the phases of this game (it takes 10 minutes to complete).
The results of the game are the following:
Minimal state: 15.43% Meritocracy:
25.52% Social Welfare: 22.22% Communism:
24.65% Strict egalitarianism: 12.18%
Point 2 the visitors fill out a printed questionnaire in
which they write in their replies regarding their own social status,
their thoughts on the status of social justice in their own country,
desired models of just distribution and similar. The
filled-out questionnaires are then dropped in a box. At the Documenta11
show around 2500 visitors filled out questionnaires on-site.
The results are available on the link Statistics
Questionnaires were also filled out online (via the Internet) for
the duration of the exhibition (around 1700 completed questionnaires).
One of the interesting results from the on-line questionnaires comes
from the replies on the justness of distribution in one's own society.
Up to the close of the exhibition in Torino 25% of the respondents
evaluated their own society as being just, and 75% as being unjust.
During the exhibition in Kassel, this relation changed visibly:
the number of those who evaluated their own society as just increased
to 38%, while 62% of the replies contained the evaluation of an
The greatest number of votes for a "society with good (just) social
politics" went to Sweden. This was followed by The Netherlands and
Denmark, and then Germany, Finland and Norway.
At Point 3 the visitors become involved in yet one more game
on the Internet in which they can uncover their "distributive profile",
that is, how close their understandings of justice are to some of
the more known theories of distributive justice. During the duration
of the exhibition in Kassel 895 visitors played this game.
The results were the following:
19% Dworkin: 22% Right-wing libertarianism:
5% Left-wing libertarianism: 9% Utilitarianism:
13% Pluralism: 17% Strict egalitarianism:
4 enabled the inclusion into discussions on an online forum
along with viewing of the remaining elements of the project on the
Point 5 visitors were able to list through a printed version
of the Distributive Justice Newsletter and request a copy for themselves.
For the Documenta11 exhibition, issue no. 1 of the Newsletter was
printed in English and German, with sections on the development
of the project to date along with texts (essays and articles) that
further elaborated on the themes opened up within the project itself.
Issue no. 1 of the Newsletter can be found on the Internet.
A previous pilot issue was also published both in print and
electronic format in English and Italian for the Big Torino 2002exhibition.
also had access to books in German, English, Croatian and Italian
that give in-depth analyses on the issue of distributive justice.
At this point the process of public participation ends, and the
visitors return to the computer and printer at the starting point,
Point 0, and type in their username and password and print out:
their own results from the two games;
- a comparison of these results with the total results of all games
- a general text on the type of society their results most closely
- a general text on the theory which their results in the game come
and DVD interviews
An integral part of the project is comprised of interviews carried
out with people from various professions and social strata in various
countries. Their testimonies on the state and development of distributive
justice, on their personal experiences and feelings are available
on video and DVD recordings, video-excerpts on the Internet, and
selected parts in the Newsletter. Visitors of the exhibit were able
to obtain an insight into the interviews carried out to the beginning
of June 2002 in Sweden, Denmark, Italy, Croatia
and New Zealand.
Those being interviewed were always asked the same questions:
How fair is your society? What would you change?
2. What are the best and the worst things about it?
3. Have you had opportunities in life?
4. What changes have you seen?
5. Are you optimistic about the future?
6. Are there other societies that are more socially just?
were given the opportunity to select a question and then the interviewed
person whom they wished to answer that particular question. (The
country which the interviewed person came from and their occupation
was listed.) The interviews were organized by countries on the Web.
An open discussion entitled "Distributive Justice: Good Old Theories
and Bad Practice" was held on June 19, 2002 in the installation
space of the project Distributive Justice. The discussion gathered
together the authors of the project itself, philosophers and other
experts from the fields of social sciences and close to one hundred
visitors of the exhibition. More>
The publication "Distributive Justice - Project Guide"
was especially prepared and published for the duration of the exhibition
and made available to visitors from the beginning of July to the
closing of the Documenta11 exhibition on September 15, 2002. The
publication was designed to familiarize visitors with not only the
project in its entirety but also with its individual segments. In
this way, we wanted to make the movement through the installation
space at the show easier for visitors and to help them in becoming
involved in those parts which were independent of the installation
space itself: in the interactive parts on the Internet, in discussions
in other spaces and in the interviews. The publication also offers
an insight into the process of the emergence and development of
the project and its results to date including those generated during
the first month of the presentation at Documenta11.