African cities are both centres for artistic practice and hotspots of social encounter and conflict. The panel asks how artists negotiate these social and political aspects of urban life aesthetically, and how they interact with diverse audiences and the urban space.
African cities are both centres for artistic practice and hotspots of social articulations from enriching encounter to violent conflict. On the one hand, they offer artists opportunities to study, establish networks, and interact with social, political, economic and aesthetic aspects of urban life. On the other hand, they offer the stage where artists negotiate these very topics, bringing attention to the materiality, sociality and politics of urban space. However, the artists' agency in the urban public and their modes of social as well as aesthetic interaction, vary to a great degree. They may search for social encounters through performances in public spaces; they may comment on urban planning through independent or commissioned design interventions, or they may pull the city into their studio or workshop by processing the materials found in the streets. This panel asks: How do artists in African cities situate themselves in the public? How do their art practices relate to particular urban situations and topics? What are the dimensions of social engagement through creative practice, and how do they relate to the urban space as a social and public sphere? What audiences do creative practitioners address, and how do audiences actually emerge? What does artistic practice contribute to an understanding of "the public" in the diverse political and cultural urban settings? The panel welcomes papers from a broad variety of disciplines including, but not limited to, art history, visual studies, anthropology, urban studies, performance studies, architecture, or design studies. Contributions by practicing artists are equally welcome.