The Situational Drive: Complexities of Public Sphere Engagement

05.12.2007 - 05.13.2007

05.12.2007 - 05.13.2007


Creative Time and INSITE in collaboration with The Cooper Union.


Joshua Decter

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The Situational Drive: Complexities of Public Sphere Engagement was a two-day public forum comprised of conversations, panel discussions, artistic interventions, and other activities. The cross-disciplinary, ideologically diverse event was developed through a partnership between INSITE (San Diego/Tijuana) and Creative Time (New York), in collaboration with The Cooper Union School of Art (New York).

Organized by curator Joshua Decter, The Situational Drive was conceived as a platform for rethinking the challenges of artistic, curatorial, architectural, and theoretical interventions that reactivate public domain as a territory of experience, complicating the normative flows of the urban environment. As Decter elaborated, citing Maarten Hajer: “In the network society everyone puts together their own city. Naturally this touches on the essence of the concept of public domain…Public domain experiences occur at the boundary between friction and freedom.”[i]

Participants were not asked to deliver formal papers or lectures, but rather to engage in more informal conversations in response to the issues and questions that Decter proposed:

What is at stake today in terms of public domain experiences? How do we know the impact of cultural projects upon the imaginations of citizens? Do we believe in the possibility of transforming publics? What is the nature of our situational drive?

For Decter, forging the partnership between INSITE and Creative Time was a pivotal aspect of The Situational Drive—linking two organizations with historical commitments to pushing the definitions of public art, site-specificity, research-based processes, and the testing of public space and public domain experience.

[i] Maarten Hajer and Arnold Reijndorp, In Search of New Public Domain, Rotterdam: NAi Publishers, 2002.