MEDIATIONS: Art & Design Agency and Participation in Public Space

MEDIATIONS: Art & Design Agency and Participation in Public Space conference of the EU Marie Curie Research project TRADERS on the 21ST-22ND November 2016 at the Royal College of Art, London. The deadline for papers is 30TH MAY 2016. Please send your submissions to [email protected]. For more information on the paper sessions, submission requirements, keynotes and more, please visit:

The conference will explore approaches through which artists and designers can pursue the empowerment of publics in the decision-making for, and co -creation of, public space. Operating within the context of public space means dealing with discrepancies between a multiplicity of forces (e.g. political, economical, environmental, legal, etc.), concerns (e.g. social justice, privatisation, digitalisation, etc.) and actors (e.g. citizens, policy makers, urban planners, etc.). Artists and designers who aim to empower citizens in often ‘agonistic’ spaces [i] need to mediate between various aspirations in order to help bring about desired social and/or political change. Such a mediation can take shape in many ways: mediating between different stakeholders, between the client and the public, between different publics, between top -down and bottom-up, between theory and practice, between ideas and action, between imaginaries and reality, and so on.

Through six paper sessions (Data-mining, Interventions, Play, Mapping, Dialogue & Curating), an exhibition and four keynote sessions we will ask: – What alternative empowering practices exist in art and design that can promote citizen participation'– How can artists and designers “make a difference”[ii] within existing/established distributions of power'– How can they use their agency to empower others (e.g. citizens) to bring about desired social or political change'– In other words, through what means, modes and/or practices can artists and designers mediate between multiple actors with diverse agencies?

The keynote speakers, USMAN HAQUE, JANE RENDELL, SUSANNAH HAGAN and RAMIA MAZ , will explore how designers’ agency and attitudes towards the design and production of public spaces have evolved over the last decades; how issues of gender play a role in the use, behaviour and appropriation of public space by a multiplicity of publics; how different participatory approaches can reconfigure existing power relations in art and design processes, and how new technologies can promote greater citizen participation in the design, use and sustainability of public space.

TRADERS - ‘Training Art and Design Researchers for Participation in Public Space’ – is a three year EU Marie Curie research project examining different dimensions and roles of participation in public space. In the project’s closing conference we would like to invite participants to join us in exchanging experiences and knowledge in the field of participation in art and design.'?[i] Mouffe, C. (2000) Deliberative Democracy or Agonistic Pluralism. Political Science Series 72, C. Neuhold (Ed.). Vienna: Department of Political Science, Institute for Advanced Studies (IHS).[ii] Giddens, A. (1984) The Constitution of Society: Outline of the Theory of Structuration. Berkeley, California: University of California Press. p.14.

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