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45: Civic Spectacle

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| Spring 2012 |
Edited by Jim Drobnick and Jennifer Fisher /

This issue of PUBLIC considers how large-scale events have challenged conventional understandings of audience, spectacle, and what it means to “view” art. The recent success of Nuit Blanche, for instance, breeds a paradox: in one night, the number of visitors often surpasses the attendance at major art institutions for an entire year. Despite such numbers, this popular exhibition format has so far yielded limited scholarship, which PUBLIC 45 seeks to engage. This issue on Civic Spectacle analyzes the greater context of performances that includes the time-honoured cultural forms of festivals and parades along with more spontaneous and oppositional events, such as flash mobs and activist interventions. Indeed, beyond Nuit Blanche, these types of civic spectacles respond to a situation of urban crisis: the loss of sustainable jobs as tourism and service industries replace manufacturing, the weakened political clout of cities as suburbs and exurbs become wealthier and more populous, and the challenges to retain a sense of community in the stressed circumstances of the downtown core.

Table of Contents

  • Editors’ Introduction


  • ‘Sleepless Nights: Contemporary Art and the Culture of Performance’, Heather Diack
  • ‘Nuit Blanche and Transformational Publics’, Siobhan O’Flynn
  • PROJECT: ‘NIGHTSENSE,’ Jennifer Fisher and Jim Drobnick
  • ‘City of Night: Parisian Explorations’, Catherine Howell
  • ‘Halifax’s Nocturne versus(?) the Spectacle of Neoliberal Civics’, Max Haiven


  • ‘Street Light: Manhattanhenge and the Plan of the City’, Andrew Wasserman
  • ‘The Screen Politics of Architectural Light Projection’, Abigail Susik
  • PROJECT: ‘Ali&Cia’s Urbanophagy Ceremonies’, Simon Cohen and Alicia Ríos
  • ‘Spectacular Infrastructure: The Mediatic Space of Montreal’s “Quartier des spectacles”’, Joel McKim
  • PROJECT: ‘ The Freee Collective Don’t Want You!’, Dave Beech, Andy Hewitt and Mel Jordan
  • ‘“A Massive Multi-Faceted Screening Room”: LA Freewaves Curates Hollywood Boulevard’, Matthew Reynolds


  • ‘Urban Playground Antics and the Redefining of Public Spaces’, Carmen McClish
  • ‘Digital Productivism: New Participatory Mass Culture’, Philip Glahn
  • ‘Essences of Social Change: City Fusion, Interculturalism and the Dublin St. Patrick’s Day Festival in Post-Celtic Tiger Ireland’, Charlotte McIvor
  • PROJECT: ‘Public Dreaming and the Transgression of Neoliberal Borders’, Eric Moschopedis
  • ‘“Choreographies of Nationhood”: Performing Aviation as Spectacle’, Fiona Wilkie
  • ‘Participatory Art at the Vancouver 2010 Cultural Olympiad’, Lois Klassen


‘Seeing Through Spectacles’, Ian Balfour


  • Khvay Samnang, Untitled, Brian Curtin
  • ARTocracy: Art, Informal Space, and Social Consequence: A Curatorial Handbook in Collaborative Practice by Nuno Sacramento and Claudia Zeiske, Jonathan Baxter
  • Error: Glitch, Noise, and Jam in New Media Cultures, edited Mark Nunes, Lewis Kaye
  • Critique of Creativity: Precarity, Subjectivity and Resistance in the ‘Creative Industries’ edited by Gerald Raunig, Gene Ray and Ulf Wuggening, Marc James Leger

$15 | 240 pages, 100+ colour images

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