Public sphere as project poses the question, “how can art play a role in expanding the public sphere?” This project is a response to the sense that in the present political climate, the public sphere is diminishing, so that we increasingly think in terms of individualism (such as niche markets), or monolithic ideas of collectivity (such as nationalism). In this context, how do we conceive of ‘the public’, other than through mass marketing terms or ‘bums in seats’? Related to this, the project will engage with questions around the function of culture and the role of the artist or audience, in relation to ideas of individual and collective responsibility.
Public sphere as project will take the form of an open, participatory process of planning a public event, in response to these issues. Prior to the festival, the project will begin with email correspondence with interested individuals and organizations in Calgary, to discuss these issues. The artist will be available to meet with people for ‘public conversations’ in various sites around Calgary, and through email in the months leading up to the festival. The process will culminate in a public event, which will be an attempt to enact/embody one possible way that art can play a role in expanding the public sphere. The nature and location of the event, as well as the types of activities involved, will be developed directly in response to the issues and ideas raised in the conversations and email correspondence.
Kirsten Forkert is an artist, writer, and teacher based in Vancouver. Her work has explored the problematics of conceiving of collective experience and the public sphere in a neoliberal climate, where both identity and community are defined primarily through consumer choice. She has worked individually, collaboratively with John Dummett and as a member of the Counterpublics collective.