CFP - PUBLIC #44: Art and Civic Spectacle

With the rise of all-night events such as Nuit Blanche in cities worldwide, large-scale performance and art interventions have gained prominence in the urban context. This special issue of Public will analyze the dynamics and significance of these popular mass events. How do the monumental artworks of city-wide exhibitions relate to the diverse histories of spectacle? Which formal and ideological continuities and discontinuities can be discerned? What are the opportunities and challenges of such events? When audience levels reach into the hundreds of thousands, what issues are raised about spectatorship and participation? The texts in this issue will explore the aesthetic, social and political implications of civic spectacles for contemporary art, audiences and the city. Interdisciplinary perspectives and artists' projects are welcome.

Potential topics:

-- Nuit Blanche (Paris, Toronto, Brussels, Rome, etc.)

-- historical precedents to Nuit Blanche

-- city-sponsored art events (e.g., art at the Olympic games, city centennials)

-- the potentials and problems of civic spectacle

-- mass audiences for art

-- aesthetics and the public sphere

-- nocturnal flânerie and psychogeography

-- civic boosterism and tourism

-- public art and urban regeneration

-- interventions and spatial politics

-- participatory art and democracy/citizenship

-- temporary architectures and projections in the cityscape

-- the role of art in the urban experience

-- curatorial practice and large-scale events

-- notable artistic examples of monumental artworks/performances

Proposal deadline (250 words): September 15, 2010

Text and project deadline (3-6,000 words): February 1, 2011

Edited by Jennifer Fisher and Jim Drobnick

Please send proposal, c.v. and bio to: and

Jennifer Fisher is Associate Professor of Contemporary Art and Curatorial Studies in the Department of Visual Art at York University, Toronto. She is the editor of Technologies of Intuition (2006). Jim Drobnick is Associate Professor of Contemporary Art and Theory at the Ontario College of Art & Design, Toronto. His books include the anthologies Aural Cultures (2004) and The Smell Culture Reader (2006). Fisher and Drobnick form the curatorial collaborative DisplayCult, which curated Zone B in Toronto's 2009 Nuit Blanche (

Public is a peer-reviewed journal that explores the intersection of visual culture and critical studies. Since 1988, it has served as an intellectual and creative forum that focuses on how aesthetic, theoretical and critical issues intermix. In each themed issue, Public encourages a broad range of dialogue by bringing together artists, theorists, curators, philosophers, creative writers and historians. For further information, visit


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