CFP: Public Art and Architecture As Irritation: Mediating Politics, Emotions and Space

4th International and Interdisciplinary Conference on Emotional Geographies

University of Groningen, Groningen, the Netherlands, July 1-3, 2013



Public Art and Architecture As Irritation: Mediating Politics, Emotions and Space



Martin Zebracki & Martijn Duineveld

Cultural Geography Group, Wageningen University, the Netherlands

The  Cultural Geography Group is committed to social theory in all its spatial articulations and has a strong international reputation in the field of human geography. In particular, the work of the group is focused on mobility (including  tourism, leisure and migration studies) and cultural politics (including questions of landscape, community and heritage) in relation to spatial theory and modernity.


Session abstract:

Academic debates on the shift from art in the art world to art in the public world have recently been developed at the crossroads of the humanities and the social sciences (cf. Senie 2003; Kwon 2004; Hein 2006; Knight 2008), as have literatures on how cities have started to promote the opening up of public spaces to art and architecture (cf. Hayden 1998; Finkelpearl 2001; Hall 2003; DaCosta Kaufmann 2004; Miles and Hall 2005; Sharp et al. 2005; Zebracki 2011). Artworks and architecture in public space are often seen as a hitch in the built environment, while a plethora of claims – without sound empirical evidence – are made about their contributions to the living environment (cf. Hall and Robertson 2001; Zebracki et al. 2010). Public art and architecture act as an intermediating agency in visual culture and hence as a powerful yet elusive player in spatial politics (cf. Deutsche 1996). The rationales and expressions of art and architecture can evoke explicit or rather subtle emotions and irritation among its spectators (cf. Massey and Rose 2003). As such, art and architecture manifest themselves in the sphere of the rational unbecoming.

Hitherto, little is known about the relationships between public art/architecture, politics, emotions and space, particularly from the perspective of public space’s spectators. This session invites scholars from across all disciplines, who are engaged with multidisciplinary spatial articulations of social and cultural theory, to critically analyse the politics and affects figuring in public art and architecture.


Suggested topics this session attempts to explore include, but are not restricted to, the following:

· The assemblages of materialities and practices of public art/architecture and their emotional resonances (cf. De Landa 2006; Deleuze and Guattari 2007 [1987])

· Governmentalities of public art/architecture (cf. Foucault 1991)

· Reflexive, performative and visual methodologies of affect-based research on public art/architecture (cf. Rose 2001; Thrift 2008)

· The body as research instrument and site of research in cultural geographies of public art/architecture (cf. Hawkins 2010, 2012)

· Engaging geographies of public art/architecture: relationships between sensed, imagined and reified socio-spatial dimensions (cf. Lees 2001; Zebracki 2012)

· The non-representational relationships between public art/architecture, affects and the public sphere (cf. Mitchell 1992; Thrift 2008)

· Emotional dimensions of site-specificness and publicness of public art/architecture (cf. Mitchell 1992; Kwon 2004)

· Relational aesthetics and social relationalities of public art/architecture (cf. Bourriaud 2002; Massey and Rose 2003)

· Spatial poetics of public art/architecture (cf. Bachelard 1994 [1958/1969])


If you are interested in participating in this session, please submit an abstract of no more than 250 words to Martin Zebracki ( and Martijn Duineveld ( by January 12, 2013. Conceptual and/or empirical contributions are welcomed. Please feel free to ask Martijn or Martin any questions related to this intended session.


Conference website



Bachelard, G. (1994 [1958/1969]) The Poetics of Space. The Classic Look at How We Experience Intimate Places. Translated by M. Jolas. Boston: Beacon Press.

Bourriaud, N. (2002) Relational Aesthetics. Translated by S. Pleasance and F. Woods. Dijon: Les Presses du Réel.

DaCosta Kaufmann, T. (2004) Toward a Geography of Art. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

De Landa, M. (2006), A New Philosophy of Society: Assemblage Theory and Social Complexity. New York: Continuum Press

Deleuze, G. and Guattari, F. (2007 [1987]) A Thousand Plateaus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia. Trans. Brian Massumi. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.

Deutsche, R. (1996) Evictions: Art and Spatial Politics. Cambridge: The MIT Press.

Finkelpearl, T. (2001) Dialogues in Public Art. Cambridge: The MIT Press.

Foucault, M. (1991) Governmentality, in Burchell, G., Gordon, C. and Miller, P. (eds) The Foucault Effect: Studies in Governmentality. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, pp. 87-104.

Hayden, D. (1998) An American sense of place (with an afterword), in Senie, H. and Webster, S. (eds) Critical Issues in Public Art: Content, Context, and Controversy. Washington: Smithsonian Institution Press, pp. 261-269.

Hall, T. (2003b) Opening up public art’s spaces: art, regeneration and audience, in Kirkham, N. and Miles, M. (eds) Cultures and Settlements: Advances in Art and Urban Futures Volume 3. Bristol: Intellect, pp. 49-57.

Hall, T. and Robertson, I. (2001) Public art and urban regeneration: advocacy, claims and critical debates, Landscape Research 26(1): 5-26.

Hawkins, H. (2010) Turn your trash into… Rubbish, art and politics. Richard Wentworth’s geographical imagination. Social & Cultural Geography 11(8): 805-827.

Hawkins, H. (2012) Geography and art. An expanding field: site, the body and practice. Progress in Human Geography, doi: 10.1177/0309132512442865.

Hein, H. (2006) Public Art: Thinking Museums Differently. Lanham: AltaMira.

Knight, C. (2008) Public Art. Theory, Practice and Populism. Oxford: Blackwell.

Kwon, M. (2004) One Place after Another. Site-Specific Art and Locational Identity. Cambridge: The MIT Press.

Lees, L. (2001) Towards a critical geography of architecture: the case of an Ersatz Colosseum. Ecumene (Cultural Geographies) 8(1): pp. 51-86.

Massey, D. and Rose, G. (2003) Personal Views: Public Art Research Project. Milton Keynes: The Open University.

Miles, M. and Hall, T. (2005) Interventions: Advances in Art and Urban Futures Volume 4. Bristol: Intellect.

Mitchell, W. (ed.) (1992) Art and the Public Sphere. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.

Rose, G. (2001) Visual Methodologies: An Introduction to the Interpretation of Visual Materials. London: Sage.

Senie, H. (2003) Reframing public art: audience use, interpretation, and appreciation, in McClellan, A. (ed.) Art and Its Publics. Museum Studies at the Millennium. Oxford: Blackwell, pp. 185–200.

Sharp, J., Pollock, V. and Paddison, R. (2005) Just art for a just city: public art and social inclusion in urban regeneration, Urban Studies 42(5/6): 1001-1023.

Thrift, N. (2008) Non-Representational Theory. Space/Politics/Affect. London: Routledge.

Zebracki, M. (2011) Does cultural policy matter in public-art production? The Netherlands and Flanders compared, 1945-present, Environment and Planning A 43(12): 2953-2970.

Zebracki, M. (2012), Engaging geographies of public art: indwellers, the ‘Butt Plug Gnome’ and their locale. Social & Cultural Geography, doi: 10.1080/14649365.2012.723735,

Zebracki, M., Van Der Vaart, R. and Van Aalst, I. (2010) Deconstructing public artopia: situating public-art claims within practice, Geoforum 41(5): 786-795.