Public Space: Lost and Found

ACT and the MIT Center for Art, Science and Technology presented this two-day symposium and accompanying exhibition, coordinated by Gediminas Urbonas, to celebrate the living legacy of artist and educator Antoni Muntadas and collectively redefine ideas of public space and its multiple functions. Muntadas came to MIT in 1977 to join the Center for Advanced Visual Studies (CAVS) as a research fellow. In this experimental setting, he explored topics such as the media landscape and the dichotomies between subjectivity and objectivity and private and public. He later became a Professor of the Practice and his seminars became a fixture in the curriculum as they focused on understanding spatial cultural identity through art and architecture.

Convening scholars, artists, architects, and planners from MIT and beyond, the symposium engaged with contemporary critical discourses and practices on public space, investigated the definitions of public space across disciplines, and interrogated the tools, tactics, and consequences of reclaiming — or to use a term coined by Muntadas, “creating interventions in” — public space through art and architecture. Public Art, that is art in public space, is a concept that has been in discussion and revision throughout the evolution of the terms “art” and “city”. Recent movements—including those in Egypt, Madrid, New York and around the world in Occupy communities—have exposed the tension between the concepts “public” and “space”, and reflect citizens’ interests in recovering and re-appropriating the city or town square. The themes of this symposium drew from Muntadas’s career at MIT and his artistic practice, a legacy that directly affected the work and philosophies of many of the invited speakers and all participants in the exhibit.

Participants: Urbonas Studio, Antoni Muntadas, Fabio Ciavarella, Barry Beagen, Chantal El Hayek, Desiree Marie Gonzalez, Adi Hollander, Alice L. Huang, Michael S. Lee, Ian Soroka, Nushelle de Silva

Symposium participants: Dennis Adams, Azra Akšamija, Jennifer Allora, Ute Meta Bauer, Adrian Blackwell, Ina Blom, Beatriz Colomina, Teddy Cruz, Alexander D’Hooghe, Catherine D’Ignazio, Néstor García Canclini, Juan Herreros, Jane Hutton, Andrés Jaque, Caroline Jones, Coryn Kempster, Ana María León, Matthew Mazzotta, Ana Miljački, Antoni Muntadas, Otto Piene, Marjetica Potrč, Adèle Naudé Santos, Doris Sommer, Nader Tehrani, Marrikka Trotter, Gediminas Urbonas, Angela Vettese, Mark Wigley, Krzysztof Wodiczko, J. Meejin Yoon

Exhibition: Kelly Dobson, Seth Weiner, Jennifer Allora, Hiroharu Mori, Carrie Bodle, Gemma Shusterman, Limor Fried, Max Goldfarb, Oliver Lutz, Emily Ambs, Jae Rhim Lee, Clementine Cummer, Coryn Kempster, Edgar Pedroza, Jennifer Tran, Luis Backaller, Jegan Vincent de Paul, Andrew Ferentinos, Daniele Cappelletti, Matthew Mazzotta, Haseeb Ahmed, Haruka Horiuchi, Richard The, Aylin Yildirim Tschoepe, Jessica Fain, Sohin Hwang, Jaekyung Jung, Sarah Witt, J.D. Sassaman, Anne Callahan, Giacomo Castagnola, Micah Silver, Mariam Abdel Azim, Ryan Kuo, Sooyoung Kwon, Ana Cristina Vargas, Marrikka Trotter, Lissa Martin, Nicole Vlado, Ananda Kantner

Photo Captions:
1- A crowd viewing the exhibition during the symposium, 2014.
2- Associate Professor Gediminas Urbonas addressing the crowd from the second floor mezzanine, 2014.
3- Public Space? Lost & Found Exhibition, 2014.
4- Public Space? Lost & Found exhibition, 2014.
5- Antonio Muntadas speaking at the symposium, 2014.