What is “the public”? And what, as artists, is our role in it? How can we wield our tools to make this world more just? Is art capable of such repair, anyway? Art and the Public Domain takes on these questions through praxis.
Together we will consider the work of scholars, historians, sociologists, philosophers, psychologists, critics, and intellectuals who themselves have engaged with these questions. We will encounter ideas on freedom, trauma, justice, oppression, community, democracy, otherness, memory, and monuments from aesthetic, critical, critical race, poststructuralist, political, psychoanalytic, queer, and feminist theory. We will examine how artists have given these ideas form. And by semester’s end, we will test these ideas in projects of our own.
1: Art-workIntroduce yourself: in three minutes, share a public space that is important to you. Why is it important to you? Who is its public(s)? What are its social, spatial, and historical contexts? You may share this however you’d like, be that a verbal description, images, poetry, a sketch—anything.
- Antonio Gramsci, “The Intellectuals” (1937), pp. 112–119
- James Baldwin, “The Creative Process” (1962), pp. 1–3
- Audre Lorde, “Poetry Is Not a Luxury” (1977), pp. 36–39
2: Emancipation and Freedom
- Immanuel Kant, “What is Enlightenment?” (1784), pp. 1–6
- Paulo Freire, Pedagogy for the Oppressed (1968), pp. 35–40
- Michel Foucault, “The Word Parrhesia” (1983), pp. 11–24
- Judith Herman, Trauma and Recovery (1992), pp. 1–32
3: Monuments and (Counter)memory
- Horst Hoheisel, Aschrott Fountain (1985)
- James E. Young, “The Texture of Memory” (1994), pp. 1–15
- Hiwa K, The Bell Project (2007–2015)
- Zadie Smith, “What Do We Want History to Do to Us?” (2020), pp. 1–16
4: Public Space, Sphere, Domain
- Mierle Laderman Ukeles, Touch Sanitation (1979)
- Henri Lefebvre, “Space: Social Product and Use Value” (1991), pp. 185–195
- Michael Rakowitz, paraSite (1998)
- Doreen Massey, “The Elusiveness of Place” (2005), pp. 138–142
- José Esteban Muñoz, “‘Gimme Gimme This... Gimme Gimme That’: Annihilation and Innovation in the Punk Rock Commons” (2013), pp. 95–110
5: Publicness Amidst Protest and Pandemic
- Hassan Darsi, Le Point Zéro (2014)
- Jessica Namakkal, “Re-Naming as Decolonization” (2015), pp. 1–4
- Ruha Benjamin, “Black AfterLives Matter” (2018), pp. 1–20
- Cameron Rowland, Encumbrance (2020)
6: SketchIntroduce three “sketches” of your project. Following the term’s nineteenth-century definition—”an outline or general delineation of anything”— these sketches may be drawings, writings, photographs, songs, or any other media with which you would like to communicate your early ideas.
7: Otherness, Strangerhood, Alterity
- Frantz Fanon, “By Way of Conclusion” (1952), pp. 223–232
- Julia Kristeva, “Toccata and the Fugue for the Foreigner” (1991), pp. 1–40
- Ien Ang, “On Not Speaking Chinese” (1992), pp. 21–36
- Guillermo Gómez–Peña and Coco Fusco, The Couple in the Cage (1993)
- Olu Oguibe, Monument for Strangers and Refugees (2017)
8: Democracy as Conflict
- Jochen Gerz and Esther Shalev-Gerz, Monument Against Fascism (1986)
- Claude Lefort, “The Question of Democracy” (1988), pp. 9–20
- Chantal Mouffe, “What is Agonistic Politics? ” (2013), pp. 1–19
- Suzanne Lacy, Between the Door and the Street (2013)
- Sarah Schulman, “A Reparative Manifesto” (2016), pp. 15–29
9/10: Prototype Develop one sketch into a prototype. Consider its material, social, and theoretical components: what is it made of?; what histories does this material carry with it?; who are your audiences and collaborators?; why is it important?; how will you know it “worked”?; where is your project sited? what theoretical ideas does it cite?; from what prior projects does it draw inspiration?
11: Participation and Play
- D.W. Winnicott, “Creativity and Its Origins” (1969) pp. 65–85
- Alison Knowles, Identical Lunch (1969)
- Adrian Piper, Funk Lessons (1983)
- Rirkrit Tiravanija, untitled (free/still) (1992)
- Krzysztof Wodiczko, “The Inner Public” (2015), pp. 287–299
12: Present Present your project to a panel of guests, including Alicia Olushola Ajayi (of BlackSpace), Ani Liu, Diane Davis, Jayne Wilkinson (of Canadian Art), and Malkit Shoshan.