Appel à communication : « Public Art: Place, Context, Participation » (Santo Tirso, octobre 2015)

Bernar Venet, Sculpture dans les espaces publics de Bordeaux, 2007Although the concept of “Public Art” is traditionally associated with a monumental, celebratory or even a figurative expression, for the past few decades – following the dynamics that shaped the second half of the 20th century –, this term has represented an exercise in constant redefinition.

In fact, within a context of consecutive unfoldings – and closely considering the known expansion of the sculpture field (Krauss, 1979) –, Public Art has been addressed through many and different operating strategies which, rather than following an abstract notion of space, favour concepts such as “site” or “place” (Yi-Fu Tuan, 1977/ Norberg-Schulz, 1980 / Certeau, 1984).

Moreover, drawing from the specific features of a given location, the interventions in public space have pointedly questioned the connection between the work and the space that hosts it – a connection that goes beyond an artistic trait and reaches an urban, architectural, political, economic and social dimension – while sometimes triggering extensive discussions among the populations, acknowledging the various levels of impact – significative and spatial – it may raise.

It is within these coordinates, following a framework of spatial specificity, that Public Art has been explored from a social or relational dimension that often leads to ephemeral processes of interaction between artists and local communities. This aspect has lead authors, like Miwon Kwon, to identify “new genres” of Public Art (Kwon, 2002), referring to a renewal of the approaches to this field.

Based on a proposal by the City Council of Santo Tirso, the Instituto de História da Arte / Faculdade de Ciências Sociais e Humanas / Universidade Nova de Lisboa is organising the International Conference “Public Art: Place, Context, Participation”, taking place on 23 and 24 October 2015 at Fabrica Santo Thyrso, in Santo Tirso. The conference is linked to a reflection on the works developed since 1991 by the International Symposia on Contemporary Sculpture, headed by sculptor Alberto Carneiro and professor and art critic Gérard Xuriguera, whose tenth and final edition, currently ongoing, will allow the conclusion of the International Museum of Contemporary Sculpture of Santo Tirso.

Papers, without being limited to these subjects, may address the following:

  • Problematics of the notion of “Public Art”
  • Public Art: Case studies
  • Relations between Sculpture and Architecture
  • Urban Rehabilitation and Public Art
  • Public Art / Context
  • Space vs Place
  • Memory, City and Monuments
  • Public Art and Interaction / Participation
  • The audiences of Public Art
  • New forms of artistic intervention on public space
  • Ephemeral artistic manifestations on public space

Submission guidelines

Papers should be structured for a 20-minute presentation and must include an abstract (300-500 words excluding references) and the author’s short bio, including his/her affiliated institution and contacts. All elements must be written in Portuguese or English and sent until 10 July 2015


Authors of accepted papers will be notified until 31 July 2015.

Accepted papers must be sent to the organising committee until 12 October 2015, although, in light of the conference discussions, these may be revised until 4 November 2015. A selection of papers presented at the conference will be published in late 2015.

Scientific Committee

  • Alberto Carneiro (artist)
  • Bernardo Pinto de Almeida (FBAUP)
  • Catarina Rosendo (IHA/ FCSH-UNL)
  • Gérard Xuriguera (art critic/ independent curator)
  • Jorge Figueira (CES/ DA-FCTUC)
  • José Jiménez (Universidad Autónoma de Madrid)
  • Margarida Brito Alves (IHA/ FCSH-UNL)
  • Nuno Crespo (IHA/ FCSH-UNL)

Organising Committee

  • Álvaro Moreira (CMST)
  • Bernardo Pinto de Almeida (FBAUP)
  • Catarina Rosendo (IHA/ FCSH-UNL)
  • Conceição Melo (CMST)
  • Margarida Brito Alves (IHA/ FCSH-UNL)


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