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Presentation: Complicating the Terms of Engagement: On Disagreeing in Public (Art)

  • Room 205 Accolade West (ACW), York University 89 York Boulevard North York, ON, M3J 2S5 Canada (map)

Presented by Justin Langlois, Assistant Professor, Social Practice + Community Engagement, Emily Carr University


When we make art in public, we are often expected to begin with a specific site, or a pre-configured community, or at least a legible framework for engagement. These beginnings chart a rather narrow band of possibilities in which we must necessarily work towards amelioration and agreement. However, if we could start from a position that recognizes and locates dissensus not as a problem to solve, but as the core of a generative community practice, we may begin to imagine new roles that art could play in publics that host highly diverse ways of living together. For this presentation, I will aim to complicate the terms of engagement we often consider as starting points for public art, while charting some potential pathways for opening up where and how artists work in public and the ways in which this work can be hosted and supported by new relations and community dynamics.