Urban Practice and The Public Turn

Maggie McCormick


By reflecting on the City, Public Arts & Cultural Ecology forum in Shanghai March 2012 in the context of changes in concepts of artistic collaboration in art within China and within the China–Australia public art dialogue, Dr Maggie McCormick argues that contemporary art has gone beyond the multiple variations on the collaborative turn to what she describes as 'the public turn'. Public art, long relegated to the sidelines of the contemporary scene or located as a 'between' practice is now set to be centre stage, as a practice of the times. As new urbanism, changing urban consciousness, urban flux and transience are central to changing perceptions that define public art practice, she argues that much can be learnt from the urban turn of Chinese experience that is reshaping not only cityscapes but also mindscapes. Concepts within the paper draw on research undertaken by McCormick leading to her doctoral thesis, The Transient City: mapping urban consciousness through contemporary art practice (2009), which investigated the changing nature of urban consciousness through a study of contemporary artistic and curatorial practice emerging out of the Chinese experience.


contemporary art; China; urbanisation; urban collaborative practice; the public turn

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Asia Pacific Journal of Arts and Cultural Management; ISSN 1449-1184
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