Starting from the specific case study of Public Art Munich 2018, Patricia Reed and Joanna Warsza, the editors of A City Curating Reader: Performative Art in the City, put together a glossary that enumerates some of the key concepts behind the idea of ‘city curating’, which is the main proposition of this incredibly rich publication. Concepts borrowed from philosophers and theorists, such as ‘structures of trust’, ‘commons’, ‘performativity’, ‘temporality and temporariness’, ‘marginality’, help to draw a conceptual space within which artistic propositions can enter into a productive dialogue with the urban fabric and its logics.
The American artist Mierle Laderman Ukeles has been, since 1975, an unsalaried artist-in-residence in the Sanitation Department of the city of New York. She opened her own office there in order to work more closely with those who clean the city and keep it alive. Why not go down this path and make space for city artists and curators, who will not only become city experts for short and exciting projects, but who will help shape, build, and sustain life in the city.
City curating and more deeply contextualized public art would be an exciting public service. It could become a process of mapping problems, issues, and needs, connecting artists and communities, without the sensation of emptiness after an artist has left. Public art of the city curating could bring the promise of being something more than art, breaking out of its bubble, countering the feeling of things changing for the worse. This means not only asking questions but being there shaping our ideas of politics and public life.