Launch for PUBLIC 45: Civic Spectacle
Monday, 25 June 2012, 6-8 pm

Monday, 25 June 2012, 6-8 pm
Bar Italia, ­­­­2nd floor
582 College Street, Toronto
Screening of Ryan Stec’s Bright Lights: Big City throughout the evening
Event Page <>
Edited by Jim Drobnick and Jennifer Fisher (Journal of Curatorial Studies), PUBLIC 45: Civic Spectacle considers how large-scale events have challenged conventional understandings of audience, spectacle, and what it means to “view” art. The recent success of Nuit Blanche, for instance, breeds a paradox: in one night, the number of visitors often surpasses the attendance at major art institutions for an entire year. Despite such numbers, this popular exhibition format has so far yielded limited scholarship, which PUBLIC 45 seeks to engage. This issue on Civic Spectacle analyzes the greater context of performances that includes the time-honoured cultural forms of festivals and parades along with more spontaneous and oppositional events, such as flash mobs and activist interventions. Indeed, beyond Nuit Blanche, these types of civic spectacles respond to a situation of urban crisis: the loss of sustainable jobs as tourism and service industries replace manufacturing, the weakened political clout of cities as suburbs and exurbs become wealthier and more populous, and the challenges to retain a sense of community in the stressed circumstances of the downtown core.
Seventeen articles and projects in this issue are organized into three themed sections. Nuit Blanche” considers iterations in Toronto, Paris and Halifax. Addressing how these events give prominence to insomnia, social media, urban poetics and neoliberal “civility,” the articles outline distinctive affective states and their ethical implications. The second section, “Cityscapes,” scrutinizes the material conditions undergirding these massive public art events—the buildings and streets that are appropriated and transformed by artists and residents, even symbolically devoured, as in Ali&Cia’s urbanophagy projects. The last section, “Performing Citizenship,” focuses on questions that could be said to inform many of the articles throughout. What kinds of subjectivities and political positioning do civic spectacles ask participants to embody? What range of responses ensue? The authors here focus on both officially sanctioned spectacles (the Olympics) and examples of resistant public actions (DIY technoculture).
Articles by: Heather Diack, Philip Glahn, Max Haiven, Catherine Howell, Lois Klassen, Carmen McClish, Charlotte McIvor, Joel McKim, Siobhan O’Flynn, Matthew Reynolds, Abigail Susik, Andrew Wasserman, and Fiona Wilkie.
Projects by: Simon Cohen and Alicia Ríos, DisplayCult, The Freee Collective, and Eric Moschopedis.
Reviews by Brian Curtin, Jonathan Baxter, Lewis Kaye, and Marc James Léger, and a column by Ian Balfour.
240 pages, 100+ colour images
40-page sneak peek <>
$12 at the launch (regular $15)
Can’t make it to the launch? Pick up your copy on newsstands, in bookshops, or online <> .

PUBLIC Art Culture Ideas
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