COVID-19 has spread across the world, infecting almost 52 million people leading to more than 1.3 million deaths worldwide at the time we are publishing this story. In many ways the virus has been a ‘great equalizer’, providing the backdrop to ubiquitous race riots and the ensuing dismantlement of confederate and colonial monuments that has left populations everywhere questioning the very fabric of what it means to be a global citizen.
Like every industry the art world has been seismically affected due to bans on public gatherings, closure of galleries and museums, and postponement of art fairs and biennials. However, with all the disruption, we have seen how artists and their collaborators were able to find innovative and resourceful solutions to present art amidst the global pandemic and unrest.
Collectively, we considered cancelling this year’s Best of Public Art. However, our new reality became a symbol of hope and a pivotal moment for the world of public art. Furthermore, our team, together with this year’s contributing curators, did not want to miss an opportunity to present works of art that have inspired us even during the most sobering days of 2020.
To register for Best of Public Art 2020 click here.
Introducing this year’s influential contributors for this year’s Best of Public Art 2020:
Brook Andrew is a Wiradjuri/Celtic artist, curator and scholar from Australia. He was Artistic Director of NIRIN, the 22nd Biennale of Sydney (2020) and in 2021 will be in residence at the Rockefeller Foundation Bellagio Center. He has recently exhibited at the Musée du Quai Branly, Paris (2020), the Nest, the Hague (2020), and the Wuzhen International Art Exhibition (2019). Based between Melbourne, Australia and Oxford, England, Brook is also an Associate Professor Fine Art, Monash University; Enterprise Professor Interdisciplinary Practice, University of Melbourne; and Associate Researcher at the Pitt Rivers Museum, University of Oxford.
Manal AlDowayan is a multi-media artist from Saudi Arabia. Long invested in interrogating the gender-biased customs that impact the condition of women, Manal is a sensitive yet critical witness to the cultural metamorphosis engulfing the Kingdom. Her practice, formally speaking, regularly shifts and evolves – from her assertive black and white photographs to her research-driven projects. She is equally recognised for her work in sound, video, neon, and sculpture. Her artworks are in public collections in Museums around the world, including L.A County Museum, the British Museum, and Ithra Cultural Center. Manal holds a Masters degree in Contemporary Art Practice in Public Spheres from the Royal College of Art. She currently lives and works between London, Dhahran and Dubai.
Kendal Henry is an artist and curator who lives in New York City and has specialised in the field of public art for over 30 years. He illustrates that public art can be used as a tool for social engagement, civic pride and economic development through the projects and programs he is initiated in the U.S. and internationally.
Kendal is currently the Director of NYC’s Department of Cultural Affairs Percent for Art Program and an adjunct professor at New York University’s Steinhardt School of Culture, Education and Human Development. A guest lecturer at various universities and educational institutions, including Rhode Island School of Design Senior Studio; and Pratt Institute’s Arts and Cultural Management Program. Kendal served as the Director of Culture and Economic Development for the City of Newburgh, NY where he created the region’s first Percent for Art Program.
Kendal was also the Curator-at-large at the Museum of Contemporary African Diaspora Art (MoCADA) in Brooklyn, NY and was elected to serve two 3-year terms on the Americans for the Arts Public Art Network Council.
Raqs Media Collective
Raqs Media Collective was formed in 1992 by Jeebesh Bagchi, Monica Narula and Shuddhabrata Sengupta. The word ‘raqs’ in several languages denotes an intensification of awareness and presence attained by whirling, turning, being in a state of revolution. Raqs Media Collective takes this sense of ‘kinetic contemplation’ to make a restless and energetic entanglement with the world, and with time. Raqs practices across several forms and media; it makes art, produces performances, writes, curates exhibitions, and occupies a unique position at the intersection of contemporary art, philosophical speculation, and historical enquiry. The members of Raqs Media Collective live and work in New Delhi, India. In 2001, they co-founded the Sarai program at CSDS (Centre for the Study of Developing Societies) New Delhi and ran it for a decade, where they also edited the Sarai Reader series. They were the Artistic Director of Yokohama Triennale 2020.
Best Public Art 2020 will be showcased via an interactive webinar discussion featuring UAP Principal and Senior Curator Natasha Smith and Curator Ineke Dane on Tuesday, December 8 2020 (10 am, BNE and Monday, December 7, 2020, at 7 pm, EST).