Gestures of Emancipation
Doctoral Symposium on Questions of Art in Public Space
Location: AVU - Academy of Fine Arts, Prague
in collaboration with GHMP/ Prague City Gallery
Swetlana Heger, SUI, Zurich, University of the Arts ZHdK
Nicole Six / Paul Petritsch, Vienna/ AT
Jonas Dahlberg, SWE
Barbara Holub/Paul Rajakovics (transparadiso), Vienna/ AT
We are today facing unprecedented environmental and social challenges, both on a global scale and in our immediate surroundings. Nationalist, sexist, and xenophobic tendencies are making their way into politics, while the environmental crisis and social inequality are presenting us with new contexts in which to reassess the role of public art in society. The city is experiencing dynamic and radical growth that is transforming its architectural, social, and environmental make-up.
The strategies used by art in public space include a broad range of artistic approaches. Art can show us more
environmental and ethical ways of treating one another. It can offer an opportunity for collective participation and self-expression, for reflecting on history, and for community dialogue. It can influence our social, spatial, and political topologies by promoting new social models or designing and improving the physical infrastructure. But it can also legitimize economic or political interests that are not beneficial to the general public. For these reasons, it is important to consider what values we legitimize through our art and our artistic or curatorial input into the shared public space, to think about what steps can and should be taken with a view to today’s dynamic transformation of the city.
With these thoughts in mind, the inter-institutional symposium Gestures of Emancipation hopes to explore alternative ways of using the diversity inherent to contemporary artistic practice to capture the complex nature of our social, urban, and natural environment, to identify the ideas that are stimulating for this environment, and to consider ways of sharing these ideas with the general public in the urban space.
The artistic strategies of art in public space are an object of interest and public debate throughout the world via a number of interdisciplinary platforms, which are the only venue capable of encompassing the full complexity of the question of public space. We consider it vitally important to initiate and promote the establishment of a similar platform in Prague as well. The task of this platform would be to promote public discussion regarding the potential of physical artistic interventions and of “soft” interdisciplinary methods for studying, planning, and influencing public space through systemic or processual solutions.
The organizers of the symposium Gestures of Emancipation seek to create a safe and welcoming environment in which all participants can openly express their views, and in this way to create a stimulating environment for formulating new and inspirational ideas.