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Art & Social Space
by Nancy Garín

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by Jennifer Flores Sternad:

PUBLICo TRANSITorio | TRANSITOry PUBLICO is a public art and research project that investigates contemporary aesthetic-political practices: creative practices and symbolic actions that are manifest in the public sphere as acts of resistance or projections of alternative forms of sociability and co-action. It explores art and media production, as well as modes of militant research, popular and academic education, and political organizing in the North and South, with the goal of building dialogue and facilitating collaboration amongst practitioners working in different social and political (hemi)spheres.

PUBLICo TRANSITorio was inaugurated in Los Angeles, California in 2007 as an eight-day series of public art events featuring presentations and performances by over forty artists, activists, architects, and scholars from throughout South and North America. Público Transitorio explored art and research practices that have developed within social movements or in alignment with situated social and political struggles, including human rights movements, HIV/AIDS activism, environmental justice organizing, homeless and housing movements, and feminist and antiracist activism.

Público Transitorio was organized with the goal of proposing new forms of public cultural programming that can respond to the heterogeneous and often dispersed publics inherent to cities like Los Angeles, Sao Paolo, Mexico City and Buenos Aires. Events were held in multiple languages, in different parts of the city and in varied institutional contexts. Host sites included a labor organizing and research center, alternative arts spaces, a sustainability and health research organization, a museum, a state university and a public park. (1)

Speakers included the Brazilian anti-racist art and research group Frente 3 de Fevereiro; La Lleca, an artistic-social intervention in a prison in Mexico City; audio activist collective Ultra-red; BijaRi, a visual arts, performance and design center in Sao Paulo; the Journal of Aesthetics and Protest; and Buenos Aires-based members of the International Errorist, an artistic movement based in the practice of errorism. A panel on public space and the performing body featured presentations and videos by Mexican performance artist and art critic Mónica Mayer, the Argentine street art group Etcétera, and María Adela Díaz, a Guatemalan performance artist based in Los Angeles. Argentine arts and environmental organization Ala Plástica, L.A.-based artist zanne Lacy, and anthropologist PilaRiaño Alcala participated in a panel on collective and dialogic art practices that was moderated by art historian Grant Kester. In a presentation titled "Public Territory," performance artist and poet Regina José Galindo discussed the ways in which her work has been shaped by the collective imaginary of social violence in her native Guatemala; Ecuadorian performance artist Jenny Jaramillo presented her recent work in "The Scope of the Performative Act," a multi-media presentation introduced by artist Ulises Unda. A symposium on feminist and women-led collectives and community organizations featured the environmental justice organization the Mothers of East Los Angeles, the butch/genderqueer performance ensemble Butchlalis de Panochtitlan, community garden Proyecto Jardín, editors of the feminist magazines Make/shift and LOUDmouth, Xicana/Indigenous filmmakers collective Womyn Image Makers, former members of las Eastside Artistas, and Danish artist Kirsten Dufour. Público Transitorio also included a performance and public space occupation organized by Ultra-red and the Community HIV/AIDS Mobilization Project (CHAMP) and a walk-through with the organizers of Just Space(s), an exhibition and focused on activist and artistic practices that use spatial analyses to advance the pursuit of social justice.

Público Transitorio was presented in collaboration with The Political Equator II: Collective Territories / Territories of Intervention, a two-day public event series that began in San Diego, California and then crossed the U.S./Mexico border to continue in Tijuana, Baja California. (2) The speakers included architects, urbanists and cross-disciplinary collectives who are engaged in environmental activism and urban research throughout Europe and Latin America. (3)

Público Transitorio and The Political Equator II converged in a traveling colloquium in which architect Teddy Cruz led a "Conversation on the Move" on board a train traveling from Los Angeles to San Diego. Collaboration between Público Transitorio and The Political Equator II brought together the speakers and other participants from both projects and created an event-based itinerary that moved from Los Angeles to Tijuana and back again, as a performative and pedagogic tracery of the vast movements of capital, people, labor and ideologies that distinguish this region.

PUBLICo TRANSITorio | TRANSITOry PUBLICO is organized by Jennifer Flores Sternad. The 2007 event series Público Transitorio was organized and produced by Flores Sternad and co-organized by Bill Kelley Jr., Sandra de la Loza, Carla Melo, Alessandra Santos, Elena Shtromberg, Grant Kester, Maria Karlsson, Colin Gunckel, Cara Baldwin, Christina Ulke, Maria Karlsson, Robby Herbst, Mark Herbst, Ava Bromberg, and Nick Brown.


1) Público Transitorio events were held at The Museum of Contemporary Art Los Angeles; Farmlab + Under Spring; G727; Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions (LACE); Los Angeles State Historic Park; MFA Public Practice Program at Otis College of Art and Design, 18th St. Arts Center; the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) Downtown Labor Center; Los Angeles State Historic Park; and at Royce Hall, Glorya Kaufman Dance Theater, and the Faculty Center on the UCLA campus.
2) The conveners for The Political Equator II were Teddy Cruz, Grant Kester, Steve Fagin, Eloisa Haudenschild, Carmen Cuenca, and Denise Bratton. Event coordinators were Andrea Dietz with Elize Mazadiego. For more information see
3) Political Equator II participants included Ala Plástica, Ariana Hernandez-Reguant, Boredom Patrol, Caracas Urban Think Tank, Felipe Zuñiga, Food for Thought, Gilles Clément, John Palmesino, Kyong Park and Srdjan Jovanovic Weiss of the Lost Highway Expedition, Lesley Stern, Lieven de Cauter, Markus Miessen, Oscar Romo, Raúl Cárdenas of Torolab, architect Teddy Cruz, and Tercerunquinto.


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