ISSN: 2042793X
Online ISSN: 20427948
First published in 2011
2 issues per volume
Current Issue:
Volume 3 / Issue 1 Free Issue
Volume 1 | Issue 1
Call for Papers

For Notes for Contributors please click here. Please note that Notes for Contributors should be read along Intellect Style Guide, which you can download in Publish With Us section of the website.

Full research papers and longer articles should be 6,000-8,000 words. They should include original research or propose new methods/ideas that are clearly and thoroughly presented and argued. Shorter research papers, from 2,000-3,000 words, exploring specific issues and raising questions (or putting a position for debate and response) are also welcome. Experimental approaches to writing and criticism, and visual essays/contributions are invited. Our reviews section includes public art commissioning and contexts, curatorial projects, exhibitions, publications/books, architecture/planning, erformance/events, symposia/conferences/debates and artworks.

Please send proposals, suggestions and submissions to the Reviews Editor, Paul O’Neill (

Articles, to include a 250 word (max.) abstract, should be sent to the Principal Editor, Mel Jordan (, who will also respond to preliminary enquiries about suggested contributions to the journal. Please do not send images until your article has been accepted. All images to be at least 300dpi.

Aims and Scope
Art & the Public Sphere provides a new platform of critical debate for academics, artists, curators, art historians and theorists, whose working practices are broadly concerned with contemporary art's relation to the public sphere.

The journal voices a critical relationship towards the traditional and conventional debates about the specific field of public art, as well as towards the broader discussions and art practices in the public sector and the public realm. Whilst ‘public art’ has continually suffered from its mixed role as art and also town planning, in the UK, for example, the perceived success of Anthony Gormley’s ‘Angel of the North’ has since recruited public art for the purposes of ‘place-making’ and the branding of cities.

There exists a growing body of contemporary art practice and theory that bypasses the constraints of public art, public sector and public realm, in order to explore how the most ambitious and challenging art of the day intersects with its publics, not only via public spaces and public institutions, but also through a whole range of techniques and technologies of social engagement. Such engagements link specific questions about public art to broader questions about art’s role within the history of western democracy and art's active participation in opinion formation, free discussion and political action.

At the same time, critical art is re-emerging and is being re-evaluated by the likes of Chantal Mouffe, linking contemporary art to broader questions of counter-hegemonic struggle, dissensus and political transformation. These developments are evident in contemporary buzzwords such as ‘participation’, ‘collaboration’ and ‘collective action’, which are becoming more central and further contested within contemporary art. Parallel to which are developments in art such as relational aesthetics and new genre public art, which are raising these very same issues within art’s own internal logic.

This new constellation is the context for contemporary art’s ‘social turn’ and the ‘art of encounter’. Relational art, for instance, calls forth a public for art that is not made up of viewers: instead it is an art of activity, encounter and conviviality. Critics of this work have argued that it neglects antagonism (Claire Bishop), reduces otherness (Jan Verwoert), commodifies experience (Stewart Martin), and promotes ‘NGO Art’ (BAVO). Simon Sheikh has also developed the critique of the Habermasian version of the public sphere in an account of post-publics. This field has been re-theorized recently by John Roberts in terms of art’s immersion into ‘general social technique’, which explains art’s new found ability to adopt the skills and practices of social work, the service economy, political action and so on.

At the same time as opening art to the techniques and forums of political and social activity, it also links art, perhaps uncomfortably, to broader shifts in culture and society, such as the impact of ‘third way’ politics. Art is more liable, therefore, to be instrumentalized by political leaders when it has already promoted itself as convivial, useful and helpful. The development of cultural policy and culture-led regeneration has seized on art’s new settlement within the public sphere to cheaply implement social policy through art, and indeed art’s relation to the public sphere has taken criticism as a result.

Art in the public sphere is also implicated in the enormous growth of the biennial and the rise of the über-curator as signature-name for events over and above the artists, because these spectacular events are often given themes that tie the exhibition to social issues within the public sphere and are routinely defended in terms of their positive local social impact.

Importantly, therefore, Art & the Public Sphere provides a critical examination of contemporary art’s relation to the public realm, offering an engaged and responsive forum in which to debate the newly emerging series of developments within contemporary thinking, society and international art practice. The journal will develop a broad and complex set of discourses on the ‘public’, ‘publicness’, ‘making public’ and ‘publishing’, in the most conceptually ambitious sense. Questions about the public will be raised across a range of fields and positions by potential readers and contributors, including academics involved in: Fine Art, Art History, Art Theory, Architecture / Town Planning/ Culture-led Regeneration, Cultural Geography, Cultural Studies, Politics, Sociology, and Philosophy (aesthetic, political, social and linguistic). This will ensure that Art & the Public Sphere successfully communicates the interests of the entire community involved in originating, propagating or analysing art practice within the public sphere.

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