Public Art Encounters : Art, Space and Identity book cover
1st Edition

Public Art Encounters
Art, Space and Identity

ISBN 9781472468796
Published September 7, 2017 by Routledge
256 Pages 23 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

Public art is produced and ‘lived’ within multiple, interlaced and contested political, economic, social and cultural-symbolic spheres. This lively collection is a mix of academic and practice-based writings that scrutinise conventional claims on the inclusiveness of public art practice. Contributions examine how various social differences, across class, ethnicity, age, gender, religion, ability and literacy, shape encounters with public art within the ambits of the design, regeneration and everyday experiences of public spaces. The chapters richly draw on case studies from the Global North and South, providing comprehensive insights into the experiences of encountering public art via a variety of scales and realms.

This book advances critical insights of how socially practised public arts articulate and cultivate geographies of social difference through the themes of power (the politics of encountering), affect (the embodied ways of encountering), and diversity (the inclusiveness of encountering). It will appeal to scholars, students and practitioners of cultural geography, the visual arts, urban studies, political studies and anthropology.

Table of Contents


1. On Encountering Public Art

Martin Zebracki and Joni M. Palmer


2. Subverting Surveillance: Power and Incivility in Public Transit Art

Martha Radice and Brenden Harvey

3. ‘Awaken the Dragon’: Participatory Art-making and the Grassroots in Authoritarian Singapore

Jason Luger

4. The Construction of Post-Communist Ideologies and Re-branding of Budapest: The Case Study of Statue Park Museum

Paul Clements

5. Sustainable Influences of Public Art: A View on Cultural Capital and Environmental Impact

Cameron Cartiere and Ashley Guindon



6. Shaping Subjects, Connecting Communities, Imagining Futures? Critically Investigating Play Your Place

Harriet Hawkins and Ruth Catlow

7. The Production of Temporary Public Space: Site-specific Installation and ‘Vital Materialities’

Gwen MacGregor

8. ‘All Your Drains Belong to Us’: Young People and the Non-Representational Geographies of Public Art in Drain Tunnels

Candice Boyd



9. Mobilising the ‘Right to Remain’ in Vancouver’s Paueru-gai: An Art-based Participatory Research Intervention

Aaron Franks, Jeff Masuda, Audrey Kobayashi and the Right to Remain Community Fair Team

10. The Art of (Re)crossing the Border: The Border Farm Project in Maroi, South Africa

Pauline Guinard

11. The Birmingham Surrealist Laboratory: Unlocking Community and the Avant-Garde in a Super-Diverse City

Saskia Warren and Stephen Forcer

12. A Cybergeography of Public Art Encounter: The Case of Rubber Duck

Martin Zebracki



13. An Artist-Geographer’s Lens

Andrew Gorman-Murray

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Martin Zebracki is Lecturer in Critical Human Geography at the University of Leeds, UK. He has written and talked widely at the crossroads of public art, social engagement and (sexual) citizenship. Zebracki is the co-editor of The Everyday Practice of Public Art: Art, Space, and Social Inclusion (with Cameron Cartiere).

Joni M. Palmer is an Adjunct Associate Professor in the Department of Geography and Environmental Studies and the Community and Regional Planning Program at the University of New Mexico, USA. Her professional life has covered a blend of practice and academia across arts and cultural planning over the past 25 years.


‘The intersection of geography and the humanities provides fertile ground for the exploration of public art, and this collection does not disappoint. Through a diverse range of case studies, from Birmingham to Budapest, this book offers a dazzling summary of the state-of-the-art in critical geohumanities to document the different ways that public art is encountered, and contested, in particular contexts. Rather than treating public art as part of the backdrop against which urban life is played out, this book puts it front and central. Essential reading for anyone interested in the new scholarly interactions occurring at the point at which geography, art and place converge.’

– Phil Hubbard, Professor in Urban Studies, King’s College London, UK

'By analysing specific public art projects through the frames of "power (the politics of encountering), affect (the embodied ways of encountering) and diversity (the inclusiveness of encountering)" this invitational anthology incorporates a multiplicity of disciplines - anthropology, art, art history, aesthetics, geography, history, heritage studies, performance and media studies, and sociology, among others – using a variety of productive methodologies. International in scope, its projects are located in many areas not typically covered in the existing literature: Birmingham (England), Budapest, London, Melbourne, Saskatchewan, Singapore, South Africa, Toronto, Vancouver, and Zimbabwe. This volume provides a range of essential tools for considering how public art has been and continues to be experienced by a multiplicity of audiences and is variously integrated into our actual and virtual spaces.’

– Harriet Senie, Professor of Art History, City College of New York, USA

‘A welcome intervention by geohumanities scholars into the contemporary debates around art and participation. Simply removing art from the gallery, and collaborating with audiences is not an answer. This collection explores the challenges of exploring the intersections between "art as politics" and "politics as art"; and the struggle inherent in situating and making sense of places, things, people, or collectives of humans and non-humans.’

– Andy C. Pratt, Professor of Cultural Economy and Director, Centre for Culture & the Creative Industries, City University of London, UK

‘Public art and its role as placemaker, identity-definer and political tool is a rich area of research and study. Zebracki and Palmer have curated an excellent collection of essays that give fresh perspective on these themes. With a focus on diversity of location and audience, of context and implementation, this is essential reading.’

– Andrew Shoben, Professor of Public Art and Computation, Goldsmiths, University of London, UK