• Thinking in public: The affordances of hopeless spaces

Mancke, Carol, 2021, Thesis, Thinking in public: The affordances of hopeless spaces PhD thesis, Royal College of Art.

Abstract or Description:

The position of the public realm as a common resource that is genuinely open to all appears ever more circumscribed by economic pressures and politically driven regulation. A resulting sense of ‘hopelessness’ can constrain a community’s ability to develop sustainable, mutually supportive ways to organise and inhabit space. Contemporary art practices participate in narrowing or expanding the possibilities of the public realm, whether through resistance or inadvertent or knowing collusion.

My practice-led research interrogates the capacity of artistic practices to suggest fresh ways to think about and produce the physical, social and cultural structures that support everyday life. The particular focus of the practice is on frameworks for public collaborative thinking. What constitutes public collaborative thinking in an art context, what forms might it take, and what conditions are required for it to acquire agency in the world? These questions are addressed through theory, the critique of existing artworks, and the development of projects to test tactics in real situations.

Theorists who worry about public space have staked claims within a shifting field, continuously opening up and closing down spaces for artistic speculation. I look carefully at key texts, concepts and techniques developed by Hannah Arendt, Claire Bishop, David Bohm, Rosalyn Deutsche, Grant Kester, Chantal Mouffe, Bruno Latour, Jacques Rancière, Judith Butler and Ben Spatz to establish the conceptual site and underpinning for my practical explorations.

I also look at the reception and afterlife of a few carefully chosen participatory art practices, which operate in and about the public realm, and generate public discussion about topics of concern to local communities. These art forms may be ephemeral, relational (Bourriaud, 2002), dialogic (Kester, 2004), or referred to as ‘new genre’ public art (Lacy, 1994), social practice or socially engaged art.

My projects expose underlying processes that limit the scope of the public realm, exploring tactics for enabling new forms of collective imagination and action. They take place in publicly accessible sites and explore the gap between collective formal politics and the individual. These activities challenge preconceived notions of particular situations and/or places by discovering and activating affordances, using sociality, aesthetics, objects, physicality and humour.

Qualification Name: PhD
Subjects: Creative Arts and Design > W100 Fine Art
Creative Arts and Design > W900 Others in Creative Arts and Design
School or Centre: School of Arts & Humanities
Uncontrolled Keywords: thinking; collaboration; participatory art; public; affordances
Date Deposited: 10 Jun 2021 14:05
Last Modified: 10 Jun 2021 14:05
URI: https://researchonline.rca.ac.uk/id/eprint/4813
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