Performing the City: Online Symposium – School of Art Communication and English Performing the City: Online Symposium – School of Art Communication and English

Performing the City: Online Symposium

Co-presented by Sanné Mestrom, Ian Maxwell and Luke Hespanhol, University of Sydney

Public space is always contested. Competing interests vie for access to sites, proposing divergent—sometimes compatible, but frequently conflicting—uses, meanings, aesthetics, aspirations. The discourses and practices engaging directly with the question of public space range from those of the physical/structural industries associated with the built environment (landscape architecture, urban planning), through to the cultural, sociological, and the phenomenological (the public realm as experienced directly through embodiment). And of course, everyone—not only scholars and other professionals—has a stake in the game: we all share—and contest—the places in which we live, work, play, and gather.

‘Public art’, as a specific set of practices and ideas, is a key player in these contests. More, in its capacity to engage imagination and playfulness in the materiality of made objects and environment, public art has the capacity not only to participate in the struggles, but, by grounding interdisciplinary perspectives in that materiality, to serve as an organising logic for place itself. Taking up an interdisciplinary perspective, Performing the City considers the ways in which works of art in the public realm create healthy, culturally-rich, intergenerational cities.

Together, we will explore the current—and changing—role of creative disciplines in bringing urban communities together, driving conversations, and nurturing senses of place. Through a combination of presentations, provocations and a workshop, we will reflect on the growing interest in presenting art outside of the gallery/museum context, examining the opportunities and implications of complex interdisciplinary relationships between art, landscape architecture, urban planning and the social sciences, as they redefine the role of public art in the move towards people-centred place-making. With backgrounds ranging from digital design to sculpture, urban planning, and performance studies, presenters will explore how sharing creative and innovative research in the arts can contribute to learning, civic debate, placemaking and community engagement.

Participants are welcome to join us from all fields, including contemporary art, curation, landscape architecture, social sciences, urban planning, education, and architecture, and will all have the opportunity to participate in discussions, workshop activities, and planning for future collaborations.

One-day online symposium Friday, 7 August 2020.

Download Program (pdf, 600KB)

The day will be run in three parts:

10-12pm | Session 1: Keynote and Discussion

  • Dr. Quentin Stevens, RMIT University,  Architecture and Urban Design Urban play: a dialogue between people and environments

12-2pm | Session 2: Workshop and break

2-4pm | Session 3: Provocations

  • Dr. Sanné Mestrom | Urban Art, Play and Risk
  • Dr. Luke Hespanhol | Online and Blended Public Spaces
  • Dr. Ian Maxwell | Affordances, habits, practices and rituals: towards thinking about performance,  performativity, and performing the city

Zoom details will be provided upon registration.

For enquiries please contact Sanné Mestrom (


Performing the City Program_web

Prompts for short tasks

Performing the City short tasks


Aug 07 2020


10:00 am - 4:00 pm

More Info

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