Hong Kong

International Network for Research and Practice in Public Art

Overall approach and aims

The project Draft – International Network for Research and Practice in Public Art intends to establish through exchange and collaboration an intercultural discourse on a revised notion of public art and its importance in society. Through artists’ practices, it aims at strengthening the artistic, cultural, and social impacts of public art in its local contexts. For these purposes, the project constitutes an intercontinental network of actors (working in overlapping public spheres), within which public art and its role in different cultural and urban contexts are explored. Through an interdisciplinary approach to artistic projects, Draft develops and carries into practice new procedures of public art in the respective contexts.


Public art evolves in a close dialogue with social developments. It creates a kind of public sphere where artistic imagination, analysis, criticism, and commitment converge with social needs and realities and where these encounters are debated. Contemporary public art is gaining increasing importance in most of the world’s large cities and metropolitan areas. It has assumed a growing variety of practices since the 1950s, in particular in Europe and in North and Latin America. In other parts of the world such art has also become a pressing artistic and social concern in the course of the economic, political, and cultural globalization occurring together with manifold regional social changes since the beginning of new millennium.

Research and development of expanded public art practices in diverse contexts

The project Draft explores the different ways in which public art functions within the context of diverse cultures, societies, and urban structures. It also intends to study what public art achieves in these contexts. Adopting an interdisciplinary approach, the project focuses on local issues and communities, and on the shared challenges and problems of globalization at the supraregional level. Reaching beyond intercultural comparison and exchange, the project aims to differentiate and to develop public art in order to foster a multi-perspective and expanded notion of such art. Among other things, expanded public art entails the formulation of art projects in association with practitioners from across various disciplines and urban contexts, and the involvement of issues and audiences hitherto excluded from the dialogue.

Public art as dialogue and involvement

Public art detects lines of social antagonisms and encourages a public sphere, which contributes to critical negotiations of common issues. With these debates it serves, so to speak, as an arena of dialogue. Beyond that, public art is a field of experimentation where art explores the imaginaries of a society. Through this project we hope to address some of the questions raised by public art. Whom does public art serve? Which themes and issues do public art projects address? Which tactics do they employ? Who is involved in such projects, and how? Which role does public art play relating to various other urban activities? What are project participants committed to? Who determines public discourse? How can public art shape the current cultural, social, and political landscape on the level of the city? What, if any at all, is its impact on society?

Multipolar curatorial model: The regional in a global network

Artists, curators, critics, etc. from nine cities will convene at an inaugural conference and then continue the debate at subsequent working sessions to be held at regular intervals. The points of action are cities in different regions of the world, as well as urban structures of different sizes, shapes, and significance. These collaborators will exchange knowledge and skills about public art research and practice taking place in diverse cultures, societies, and urban contexts. The artistic discourse and practice will thus reflect both local and translocal contexts, including, for example, the different forms of globalization and their effects on migration and trade, on cultural and ecological systems. It is envisaged that a collaborative curatorial model will be developed and implemented so as to foster the exchange of local characteristics in artistic and curatorial practice.

Interdisciplinary artistic practices and local issues of public interest

In each of the nine cities, the project will host various events including workshops designed to bring artists together with experts from different disciplines such as urban studies, liberal arts, law and so forth. These events, further studies, and the involvement of various stakeholders will serve to define specific fields of interest, to identify public issues, and to develop strategies potentially relevant to public art in each city. Finally, the invited artists, together with their interdisciplinary teams, will design projects that will be realized (wherever possible). The programmes for the prospective workshops and the artistic projects will be conceived separately in each city, based on local conditions and needs. In any event, the participating public art actors (artists, curators, critics) from all the involved cities are welcome to attend the workshops held in the other cities.

Cities and Collaborators

  • Bombay: CAMP (Ashok Sukumaran, Sanjay Bhangar & Shaina Anand) and Khanabadosh (Gitanjali Dang)
  • Cairo: Beirut (Sarah Rifky & Jens Maier Rothe) and Jasmina Metwaly & Philip Rizk
  • Cape Town: Chimurenga (Ntone Edjabe)
  • Hamburg: Sophie Goltz, Alice Peragine and Christoph Schäfer
  • Hong Kong: Para Site (Cosmin Costinas & Qinyi Lim), Samson Young and Giorgio Biancorosso
  • Mexico City: Helena Chávez Mac Gregor, Teatro Ojo (Hector Bourges, Karla Rodriguez, Laura Furlan & Patricio Villareal) and Cuauhtémoc Medina
  • Shanghai: Li Zhenhua, Ju Anqi and Iris Long
  • St. Petersburg: Chto Delat (Dmitry Vilensky, Nikolay Oleynikov & Tsaplya Olga Egorova)
  • Zurich: IFCAR (Christoph Schenker) and Knowbotic (Christian Huebler & Yvonne Wilhelm)

Project management

Gitanjali Dang, Khanabadosh, Bombay, and Institute for Contemporary Art Research (IFCAR), Zurich
Christoph Schenker, IFCAR, Zurich
Linda Jensen, IFCAR, Zurich

Project partner

Khanabadosh, Bombay. http://khanabadosh.info/
Connecting Spaces Hong Kong – Zurich ZHdK


Studio-X Mumbai. http://studiox-mumbai.tumblr.com/
Pro Helvetia, Swiss Arts Council


January 2015 till June 2016