public space/art

Twenty years ago J. T. Michel in his, renowned by now, Art and the Public Sphere was writing:

“What is the “public” for art or for anything else? Is there any such thing as a public sphere in the cultures of late capitalism? Are we witnessing the liquidation of the public sphere by publicity, the final destruction of the possibility of free public discussion, deliberation and collective determination by a new culture of corporate military, and state management, and the emergence of a new world order in which public art will be the province of “spin doctors” and propagandists? Or does the internationalization of global culture provide opportunities for new forms of public solidarity to emerge, and leave openings for the intrusion of new forms of public resistance to homogenization and domination?” (J. T. Michel, 1990, Art and the Public Sphere, Chicago, Chicago University Press, p.2).

In 2008, in the celebratory issue of Public Magazine dedicated, obviously, to the thematic of Public, the title was followed by a question mark, Public? The question mark appear as the sign of the editors’ problematization of the notion per se, expressed as follows:

“is public still a useful term with which we can think about culture and politics, art and technology? Does it remain relevant to our efforts to define the political and imagine new forms of intervention, engagement, and interference that may tranfrom the parameters of citizenship, community, and our understandings of democracy? In short does public mean anything anymore? [” Kaminska A., Marchessault J, Rovito J. (eds), 2008, “Intoduction”, Public, art, culture and ideas, no 37, p. 10].

Researching archival practices in the contemporary public art we couldn’t but share, both the above concern and the, almost self-evident, aims (of the editors) following that concern, to “re-evaluate and reposition the idea of the public, placing it within the scope of contemporary contexts and concerns” proposing that the archival apparatus offers a most valuable ‘medium’ to that scope.

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Archive Public
A research art project.

Within the flexible limits of archival art today, Archive Public practices archival art as intervention in public space, questioning the dominant hegemony and allowing for possibilities of solidarity actions. It aspires to the creation of a broader productive collaboration network triggered by two theoretical research assumptions and an open body of works which tries out archival interventions in conflicting urban situations, in Patras and other european cities.

The first phase of the work developed theoretical propositions and art projects in Patras, Greece. It was realized with the support of the C. Carathéodory research program at the University of Patras. An edited volume, Archive Public. Performing Archives in Public Art. Τοpical Interpositions, documents this first phase of the project, and is available from Cube Art Editions.

The book includes theoretical hypotheses on archival practice in contemporary art, art works that were specifically created for the project, as well as an anthology of essays by contemporary thinkers who elaborate on particular issues of the archive in relation to the public sphere and theories of democracy, the notions of institution and instituting practice, interventions in the shifting urban condition, the philosophy and archaeology of media as well as the global flows of migration and media. Interventions focus on the urban and social condition of Patras, as it is influenced by a translocal dynamics which produces interrelations with other localities.

Participating artists: Yota Ioannidou, Maria Konti, Gregorios Pharmakis, Lina Theodorou, Stefanos Tsivopoulos, Vangelis Vlahos and Nayia Yiakoumaki.
Texts by Arjun Appadurai, Ioannis Chorianopoulos, Wolfgang Ernst, Boris Groys, Elpida Karaba, Panos Kouros, Oliver Marchart, Gerald Raunig and Saskia Sassen.

This multiuser weblog has been set as a working, exhibition and archival platform for the participants, to actuate different forms of collaboration. We plan to bring together theoreticians and practitioners from different cities and localities who are working on similar issues of archiving and intervention in the public sphere. We are seeking projects and theoretical works relevant to the Archive Public topics, as well as feedback texts responding to the art projects as they develop.

To submit a text or a project, please write at archivepublic{at}upatras{dot}gr

Panos Kouros-Elpida Karaba

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