Public Art Dialogue
2020-2021: Public Art in Tumultuous Times
Submission Deadline: March 1, 2022
2020 was a watershed year for public art, and a time when public space was redefined by coronavirus pandemic mitigation through physical barriers and social distance signage. There was an evacuation of public space in response to the pandemic and, conversely, an overtaking of public space through protests against white supremacy, police violence, and Asian hate in the U.S. Across the globe, uprisings against police violence also proliferated in countries such as Colombia and Nigeria; the Spring Revolution erupted in response to the 2021 coup d’état in Myanmar; and demonstrations in Latin America and Europe countering male violence against women took over the streets. In the midst of these ongoing protests, public art paradoxically poses both a problem and a possible solution. The toppling of monuments to slaveholders, confederate soldiers, and colonizers became part of a larger discourse around public art’s role in white supremacy and patriarchal control. By contrast, the use of public art as a tool for dismantling institutionalized inequities also became evident through creative modes of dissent that filled the streets.
This special issue considers public art’s role in the long years of 2020-2021. In addition, we query how historical precedents can contextualize the issues that came to the fore in 2020. For example, what was public art’s role in preceding pandemics and public health messaging? How does public art both resist and propel dominant social hierarchies? We welcome papers, artists’ projects, and interviews from scholars, public art practitioners, artists, and curators. Projects should present innovative approaches to framing public art’s role in calls for racial justice, iconoclasm, commemorating those we lost to pandemics and police violence, honoring essential workers, and combating anti-Asian violence through case studies, historicized investigations, and theoretical arguments. This issue aims to advance the discourses of public art by interrogating its role during tumultuous periods and the redefinitions of public space and its uses.
For more details, visit the journal's website.