Unannounced Acts of Publicness

Initiated by AIR at CSM Unannounced Acts of Publicness is an on-going testing of relations in contemporary public space.

During May 2015 ten artworks appeared unannounced on ten days in Granary Square, London. The audience was anyone present – those passing through on their commute, eating lunch, playing in the fountains, having an office break, carrying out deliveries, cleaning the square, making their way home from dancing all night – who encountered the works as part of everyday life. After each day passed, nothing of the act remained in the square. An individual who lived and/or worked locally was invited to witness each act and write a response. On June 1st the acts were announced alongside images and responses.

Unannounced Act of Publicness was devised by AIR at CSM to probe the meaning of ‘public’ in privately owned public spaces and to offer alternatives to the contemporary conditions of public space. Works were selected to test the vast scale of the square, the usual modes of behaviour and activity, and the established precedent of programmed spectacle, They introduced elements of the unexpected, the reflective, the local, the communicative, the fleeting, whilst drawing attention to the invisible, the overlooked and the ignored. 

These artworks sought out and tested the fixed order of things, finding points to press against which could potentially shift something. This form of ‘testing’ intends to counter the neoliberal ‘test’ where parameters of success are already established, outside the influence of participants. Unannounced Acts of Publicness is a testing, amongst other things, of the possibilities of trust, invitation and conversation, in the relations with and between neighbours and square users, with the developer and within our own institution. These relations overlap, interweave, and expand in the space and in the works.

The artworks might be seen as ten experiments with the square and on the wider question of publicness. Through varying distinct means they provide the beginnings of a longer term sustainable social and sociable resistance, that acknowledges, and works with, the intelligence and curiosity of the participants, audiences, partners, and local communities.