ISSN: 2042793X
Online ISSN: 20427948
First published in 2011
2 issues per volume
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Call for Papers

All articles submitted should be original work and must not be under consideration by other publications.

Download the Notes for Contributors here

Special Issue: 50 Years On – the legacy of ‘68
Volume 8 Issue 1 (Spring 2019)

Deadline: 30 September 2018

1968 ignited a wave of collective protest that swept across Europe, India and North and South America. Protesters took to the streets to demonstrate their dissatisfaction with governments, war, social inequality and racial segregation. Interventions, posters and performances often accompanied the protests, creating a rich visual legacy and entered the public sphere in a way that has changed culture, thinking and policy.

Recent political events in Europe and the United States have seen a resurgence of national populism, growing class division and xenophobia. The growth of radical public protest of different kinds is equally visible. This journal issue sets out to explore the ways in which artistic and urban strategies contribute to the production of democratic spaces.
To reflect on the 50th anniversary of the various sociopolitical actions of 1968, this special issue of Art & the Public Sphere (to be published Spring 2019) considers this cultural tipping point and asks what we can learn from these events, and what, if any, enduring legacy they have on the social and political processes they sought to shift. For example, how have groups like the Situationists, or specifically Guy Debord’s Society of the Spectacle, influenced the artistic and activist imagination, through inspiration or by tangible effects such as the use of tactics like detournement and derive? It also considers what resonance 1968 has for contemporary political movements, how ‘the public’ engages with political process in current scenarios, and the extent to which popular protest, performative intervention and the public sphere are intertwined today. It also examines how civic and political change come about. What difference does protest make, and how does it get performed in specific political contexts?

Papers that consider one or more of the themes above are welcome, yet are not limited to these. These might address:
·                The legacy of the actions of 1968 for contemporary artistic (activist or protest art) movements
·                1968 and the revival of the historical avant-garde, what does this mean for art and politics in 2018–19
·                Specific instances of political and performative demonstration in 1968 and/or in contemporary contexts.
·                Contemporary art’s connection to the changing nature of the public sphere, in an age of social media and a ‘post-truth’ environment.
·                Notions of radicalism, resistance, revolution and civic/social transformation through artistic intervention
·                Considerations of political frameworks (social democracy, authoritarianism, neoliberalism) and their relationship to contemporary art
·                Trajectories of performance in relation to cultural and political transaction.
·                Implications of re-accessing protest memory through conserving and exhibiting of protest artefacts and media re-circulation
·                The role of art practice in materializing and sustaining protest memory
Reviews of events/conferences/books/art projects and exhibitions engaged with reflecting on 1968 will also be considered for publication. Please title your email APS CFP ‘68’ (Review/Article)
Expressions of interest to and - please send to both addresses.



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.

Journal contributors will receive a free PDF copy of their final work upon publication. Print copies of the journal may also be purchased by contributors at half price.

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