This talk will focus on a basic question: how do public programs, the increasingly dominant and complex adjunctive activities to exhibitions, make and organize publics? Drawing on my experience co-curating the public program of the 13th Istanbul Biennial, the events of which became heavily contested, I’d like to discuss the historically formed act of speaking to, and soliciting, a body called the public within contemporary art.
Public programs seem to symptomatise a contradiction inherent in contemporary artistic and curatorial production in that on the one hand they indicate a broad desire to open up and discuss ideas and contexts of the cultural milieu, often focusing on alternative exhibitionary and pedagogical models, and on the other they physically and semantically refranchise the basic division between the makers and recipients of intellectual production in their mode of address. They perform a function poised between two fictions; the first a fiction of egalitarian discursivity, the second a fiction of art’s cultivating civic purpose. However distributed, it seems we both need and can’t rid ourselves of the public. Can we imagine different organizational models? How might those different models impact upon questions of curatorial time, space and scale?
Dr Andrea Phillips is Reader in Fine Art and Director of PhD programmes in the Art Department at Goldsmiths. Andrea lectures and writes about the economic and social construction of publics within contemporary art. Recent publications include: Public Space (A Space Called Public, Munich 2013); Constructed Situation (Architecture as Situation, University of Edinburgh, 2013); Art Work (Describing Labour, University of Goteborg, 2013); Art as Property (Economy: Art and the Subject after Postmodernism, Liverpool University Press, 2014 forthcoming). Recent and ongoing research projects include: Actors, Agent and Attendants, a research project and set of publications that address the role of artistic and curatorial production in contemporary political milieus (in collaboration with Fulya Erdemci and SKOR 2009-2012); co-director of the research project The Aesthetic and Economic Impact of the Art Market, an investigation into the ways in which the art market shapes artists’ careers and public exhibition (in collaboration with Suhail Malik, Andrew Wheatley and Sarah Thelwall); Public Alchemy, the public programme for the Istanbul Biennial 2013 (in collaboration with Fulya Erdemci).
This talk is given as part of the lecture series The Visitor Talks : Pre-ambulation and Retrospection.