International Conference “Public Sphere between Theory and Artistic Intervention” – including the PhD and Post-Doc Students Conference

International Conference “Public Sphere between Theory and Artistic Intervention” – including the PhD and Post-Doc Students Conference

International Conference
“Public Sphere between Theory and Artistic Intervention”
– including the PhD and Post-Doc Students Conference
Doctoral School of Josip Juraj Strossmayer University of Osijek (Organizer)
InterScArt – Center for Interdisciplinary Research in Arts and Humanities – The Academy of
Arts (Co-Organizer)
Osijek, May 11 – 12 2018

The conference is based on the recent theories of public sphere and publicness in live arts
after Habermas. Its methodological framework consists in creating a creative platform for the
analysis of the contemporary community oriented artistic practices, especially those depicted
in a post-transitional, multicultural and immersive code. The artistic practices after the fall of
Communism were often interpreted as post-dependent, usually in the light of transcultural
and post-colonial theories. Nevertheless, public sphere approaches tends to go a bit deeper,
beyond the surface of the alleged dependence upon higher political strategies and regimes of
artistic expression, thus creating a case-study platform for live art analysis in a broader
context. Contemporary performative and artistic activism would thus be put in the context of
both, American and European neo-Avant-garde public sphere theories, with the special focus
on the activism behind this type of self-management in art. The framework proposed is not
only theoretical but it also depicts the practical aspects of the art-as-critique discourses in
modern humanities, mainly performance studies, film and video art studies, live art critique,
musicology, art criticism, etc. Community oriented performances, live art, in situ art and
installation activism in the sphere of counterpublics were often depicted using the post-
Habermas’ theories of publicness, especially those of Anglo-American critics, such as M.
Warner, S. Benhabib, N. Fraser, or post-Marxist thinkers as Ch. Mouffe, E. Laclau, O. Negt and
A. Kluge, etc.

Public space interventions are no less important in the field of European Studies and
Communication. The impact of European integration on the legal and economic development
of national systems opens up space for scientific analysis of the relationship between the
European center and the periphery, as well as the impacts that European policies have on
Member states and candidate countries. Therefore, we also expect papers from these
perspectives. Public is usually perceived as a natural feature of the social discourse,
distributing unevenly its semantics across the field of humanities and social sciences.

A very notion of public(s) has a certain contingency in a wide range of contexts, making it
difficult to grasp beyond certain metalevels of thought and reflection. It presupposes
disagreements and different kinds of struggle, subjection to a variety of social norms and
political strategies. In a way, it stands out from the concept of private but, on the other hand,
it reluctantly collides with the spheres of privacy and intimacy, even with the mode of thinking
about life beyond fonction publique. Habermas’ influential oeuvre The Structural
Transformation of the Public Sphere (1962) is thus considered as a starting point for
elaboration, but it also calls upon many other forms of revisions and theoretical frameworks.

According to Habermas, public sphere theory optimizes itself by bracketing different
identities, but, nevertheless, that are eager to enter in a debate or an argument on matters
important to community or common to all. Going public is not merely an act of will, whether
in writing, performing, or being engaged in an open statement, public opinion, critique or
polemical approach to art. It has to be regarded, both, as a way of contextualizing something
in a much bigger debate and, second, institutionalizing something others interpret as private
concern. Counterpublics are constituted not only by privileging the subaltern but also by
emancipating their critical, even conflictual habitus. While theorizing on his thesis on public
sphere as an assembled body of private persons discussing matters of public concern and
common interest many authors offer an alternative historical approach, trying to overlap the
author’s inconsistency with the practical politics or social pragmatism. Nancy Fraser manages
to eliminate four important Habermas’ assumptions about the bourgeois publics: first, that it
is possible to bracket status differences and to deliberate “as if” their subjects are social
equals; second, that the proliferation of a multiplicity of competing publics is a step away from
greater democracy; third, that discourse in public sphere should be restricted to some kind of
deliberation about the common good, where private interest is always undesirable; and
fourth, that a functioning public sphere asks for a rigid separation between civil society and
the politic of the state. Anyway, this conception of public sphere is considerably agonistic,
revealing the very limits of rational consensus inside of the public, or – as Chantal Mouffe puts
it – precisely this agonistic struggle is the core of a vibrant democracy. In the agonistic
modeling of public sphere there is rarely any terrain for consensus.

This conference should thus reexamine some of the paradigmatic models of collision between
the public sphere (and its theories) and the artistic work, subdued to emancipation,
institutionalization, participation and irruption, but not only this. Aura of art often coexists
with the feeling of genuine community, but in some cases this connection is arbitrary – or it
does not function at all. Interdisciplinary habitus of this conference should, therefore, function
as a platform for interpretation of live art or artistic immersion in general, somewhere
between public politics and counterpublics, but also as pars pro toto of a much wider debate
on publicness in post-global overheated (T. Hylland Eriksen) contemporary artistic practices.

The conference will include open lectures by keynote and guest speakers, individual panels,
according to research fields, and interdisciplinary roundtables.

Panels will be dedicated to:
1. Cultural Studies and Interdisciplinary Art Research
2. Communication Studies
3. European Studies (legal, economic and political aspects of integration in national and
EU context)
4. Interdisciplinary Roundtable on Arts and Politics

Program and Organizing Committee:
Leo Rafolt, J. J. Strossmayer University of Osijek
Robert Raponja, J. J. Strossmayer University of Osijek
Helena Sablić-Tomić, J. J. Strossmayer University of Osijek
Pero Maldini, University of Dubrovnik
Mario Vinković, J. J. Strossmayer University of Osijek
Ivana Žužul, J. J. Strossmayer University of Osijek
Jerko Glavaš, J. J. Strossmayer University of Osijek
Maciej Falski, University of Warsaw

Publishing Committee:
Leo Rafolt, J. J. Strossmayer University of Osijek
Mario Vinković, J. J. Strossmayer University of Osijek
Mira Lulić, J. J. Strossmayer University of Osijek
Ivana Žužul, J. J. Strossmayer University of Osijek
Pero Maldini, University of Dubrovnik
Maciej Falski, University of Warsaw

Important Dates:
Abstract submission: April 25 2018
Notification of Acceptance: April 30 2018
Conference: May 11-12 2018
Paper submission: June 20 2018
Conference Proceedings will be published by: September 10 2018
Email for applications:

Style Guidelines for Conference Abstracts:
1. Abstract must not exceed 350 words.
2. Please use Calibri font, single spaced, italic, 12 pt (including the title).
3. Indicate author/co-author institution and contact email left aligned at the top of the
4. Put the title of the paper in bold, left aligned.
5. Please include 5 key words or phrases that closely reflect the content of the paper.

Style Guidelines for Conference Papers:
1. Papers must not exceed 10 pages in length (Calibri font, single spaced, 12 pt for the
main text and 10 pt for the footnotes, including abstract, footnotes, figures,
references and appendices).
2. Please use Oxford citation style.
3. Before submitting your papers please ensure that it has been carefully read for
typographical and grammatical errors. If English is not your first language, please
have your paper proof-read by an English speaking person. Papers will be returned if
the standard of English is not considered to be good enough for publication.
4. Papers should be submitted as a .doc attachment by email to the conference email.
5. Papers must not be sent in PDF format and should not be zipped.
6. Set the page size to A4 with margins of 2.54 cm all around. Do not refer to page
numbers in your text as these will be changed.
7. Do not use multiple columns.
8. Put the title of the paper in bold, left aligned, at the top of the first page only.

International Conference 11-12 May 2018