Daily Schedule



Keynote Speeches

The Social Value of Art: Drawing from Dewey

Mary Jane Jacob

In this talk Mary Jane Jacob will examine the value of art as a social practice. Drawing upon ideas expressed a century ago by American philosopher John Dewey, she will reveal how art plays a role in both individual and social development that is necessary for a democratic society to exist. And like Dewey, for whom theory and practice knew no separation, Jacob will ground this point in the work of artists and her own curatorial practice, exposing the nuanced way in which art is both created and experienced, and how it can contribute to social change.

In the early nineties Jacob pioneered public, site-specific, and socially engaged art, followed by five anthologies over the last dozen years, ranging from Buddha Mind in Contemporary Art to the Chicago Social Practice History Series. Her new book, Dewey for Artists, will be published by the University of Chicago Press in 2018. Professor at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, she also directs the School’s Institute for Curatorial Research and Practice.


Cape Town’s Infecting the City Public Art Festival:  Temporal forms in the making of place for elusive and indeterminate futures

Jay Pather

Cape Town was the International Winner of Trip Advisor Travelers Choice Awards, the top of the New York Times' and the Guardian’s lists of best cities, the “Fourth Top City in the World” by the Travel and Leisure Awards and the “Best Destination in Africa” by the World Tourism Awards.  The city is also the site of abject poverty, racial clashes, civic strife and violent incidents of xenophobia. Caught in a range of notions over its natural beauty and its unassailable truth as a divided city, Cape Town’s contradictions and paradoxes are often richly explored in public art and performance. In this lecture, Jay Pather will focus on the temporary unmaking and remaking of place as a recurrent theme of the public art festival Infecting the City, to examine issues of representation, lack of ownership by citizenry, and temporal forms as political acts.


On looking – Art, Liminality and Perception in Successful Place-making

John Aiken

The reasons why a public space is considered successful are complex, multilayered and highly subjective, rather like an individual of societal sense of what ‘well-being’ means.

Art has consistently played an overt and/or covert role in enhancing and/or subverting established concepts of what constitutes successful public space and how it is perceived.

This paper explores how imperatives for change and the development of art in the expanded field have altered preconceived notions of what the impact of art can be and how it engages with public(s), the city and notions of site.