Documentation: Public Art School (Now)

Last year, Fiona Hillary and I convened a roundtable discussion, in conjunction with  ACUADS 2015,  the Australian Council of University Art and Design Schools’ annual conference, held in Adelaide (24 September 2015).  We aimed to canvass the question: What’s happening now in higher education institutions to prepare students to work in and with public, community and social contexts?

Four leading educators were invited to respond to this question and reflect on a prepared Discussion Paper, collating examples of contemporary art projects, student activity and curriculum, contributed by art and design educators from around Australia and internationally.

We put out the call for contributions in June and July last year,  resulting in the Public Art School (Now) Discussion Paper (pdf).

Documentation, along with recordings of the Roundtable discussion, with Professor David Cross (Deakin University), Dr Maggie McCormick (RMIT University), Dr Nien Schwarz (Edith Cowan University) and Professor Marie Sierra (UNSW) has now made its way onto the ACUADS 2015 conference proceedings website. (Look for the heading “Roundtables”!)

Or access the recordings directly here:


CPF: Public Art at the 2015 AAG Annual Meeting

The redoubtable Martin Zebracki has again kindly forwarded calls for conference papers for public art related presentations, here for two sessions of the 2015 Association of American Geographers (AAG) Annual Meeting, to be held in Chicago, USA, 21-25 April 2015.

Both sessions are sponspored by the Cultural Geography Specialty Group of the Association of American Geographers:

1. Public Art Geographies: Territoriality, Transculturalism, Therapy

Convenors:  Dr Martin Zebracki (University of Leeds), Dr joni m palmer (University of New Mexico) &  Dr Pauline Guinard (Ecole normale supérieure de Paris, France).

Geographical work over the last decade has seen an upsurge in interest in everyday public art—formal or informal creative objects, activities or performances beyond gallery and museum spaces—which is permanently or temporarily situated on sites that are essentially open to the society at large. Whereas considerable academic engagement with public art can be identified with regard to issues of urban regeneration, creative cities, cultural policy and modes of creative research, this session welcomes papers that critically attend to three themes that reflect broader concerns in topical debates in social and cultural studies.

1) Territoriality: how are struggles over space and attendant issues of social identity, belonging, recognition and inclusion related to everyday public art practices? Here we are specifically interested in papers that see the public artscape through the lens of critical socio-spatial justice and territorial multi-actor control or friction.

2) Transculturalism: how do everyday public art practices connect to cultural diversities in people within and between localities? The session particularly encourages accounts on the public artscape’s intersectionalities between sex, gender, sexuality, ethnicity, race, class, age, religion and (dis)ability.

3) Therapy: how can everyday public art practices help to both articulate and activate cultural diversities for the sake of the common weal and, accordingly, produce meaningful place engagements through—and for—the self, other and community? As such, this session especially welcomes contributions that deepen our understanding of the relationships between the public artscape and wellbeing and of individual as well as collective care for the living environment.

Further information and submission deadlines here.

2. Creative Place-Making and Its Micropublics

Convenors: Dr Martin Zebracki (University of Leeds) & Dr Saskia Warren (University of Birmingham)

The burgeoning social production and consumption of symbolic goods of cultural value – also known as cultural industries (cf. O’Connor 2000; Power 2002) – across diverse city spaces in the Global North and Global South have engendered an often animated multidisciplinary debate about, most prominently, the role of culture and (public) arts in urban enterprise, branding, growth, regeneration and displacement; the tensions between bureaucrats, artists and residents; translocal hegemonies of cultural expression; and the impact of cultural work across socio-economic groups (cf. Flew 2012; Garnham 1987; Pratt 2005). Particularly lacking in this debate are conceptual and methodological apparatuses to critically discern the social space and ethics of everyday encounters with creative place-making.

Creative place-making implies arts-led activities by – or coalitions between – public, private, non-profit, for-profit and/or grassroots actors who shape the fabric of cultural industries in specific locales within a broader societal context of policies, politics and economies (cf. Bell & Oakley 2015; Markusen & Gadwa 2010). We invite papers that critically address what these creative place-based practices and their main objectives entail in regard to actual or imagined ‘micropublics’ (Amin 2002).

Micropublics are considered social formations, whether organised or ad hoc, where people with diverse backgrounds and identities are placed in ‘inter-esse’ (between-being) that can challenge cultural and political dispositions, boundaries and, potentially, the status quo. As such, the session is particularly interested in engaging analytically with social difference in art-audience-place encounters (cf. Warren 2013; Zebracki 2012), including exploring notions of citizenship, identification and alienation.

This session welcomes conceptual and/or methodological accounts as well as detailed empirical illustrations from various geographical contexts. Topics may include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Social ethics of creative place-making
  • Critical dialectics between cultural policy and creative place-making
  • Homogenisations or heterogenisations in place-making practices along, e.g., sex, gender, ethnicity, race, nationality, sexuality, class, age, religion, and (dis)ability
  • Social inclusion and exclusion in multi-scalar place-making initiatives
  • Mobilities of creative place-making and their micropublics
  • Staged cultural authenticities and social alienation.

Further information and submission guidelines here.

Art and Site: Inhabiting public space in the era of the image

A seminar with Associate Professor Suzanne Paquet, Department of History of Art and Film Studies, University of Montreal, Canada.

Wednesday 1 October 2014, 4.00 – 6.00 pm
BH2-16 Lecture Theatre  [NB Change of venue from  H5-26 (Council Room), Hawke Building,]  University of South Australia, City West campus (map).
Registration is essential. Please register here.
Further information: Ruth Fazakerley

Suzanne Paquet teaches classes oriented towards the sociology of art, photography, and art in the public domain. For several years she has conducted research on the circulation of images and the function of certain types of art – environmental art, public art and photography in particular – in the production of contemporary space. In her research, great importance is given to the reciprocity between urban public space and cyberspace. Since 2012, she has been occupied with the research project, “Art and site: inhabiting public space in the era of the image“, undertaken in collaboration with geographer Guy Mercier (Laval University, Quebec).

Join Suzanne Paquet for a discussion of the Art and Site project. Art and Site examines, on the one hand, the occupation of public urban space and cyberspace by artists creating site specific and ephemeral – often furtive – artworks, and, on the other hand, the formation of communities of taste around amateur photographic activities in the web, all practices linked to the proliferation and circulation of digital images. Their reciprocal analysis raises two important questions: the first concerns the nature of the art that is made today, and the second has to do with the possibility of common worlds in an enlarged public domain, where the infinite mobility of images allows for the seizure of the motifs (motives and forms) of the production of space. These practices or “arts of doing” (de Certeau) certainly affect the shaping and the usage of public spaces: material and situated, as well as virtual and circulatory spaces. In addition, the definition of the work of art, supposedly constituted by institutional gestures or interpretations historically positioned and originating from “art worlds”, could be considered as mutating because of these singular practices. The question of space is an essential one, as this possible broadening of the traditional conception of art springs from the diversification of public space while participating in its transformation.