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Branwen Jones

Repositioning the Pervasive Public: Conditions of Agency and Intervention

       Public space is made up of subjects and objects and the movements between them. It is a multiplicity; it is the wealth of knowledge, power, and subjectivity that comprise our social and cultural relations. Public space is in a state of constant flux, sometimes undetectable and sometimes markedly different. It is constructed of many overlapping layers that depend on and interact with one another. These intersections give public space its knowledge, power, and potential.

The diagnosis of public space as a social and cultural institution indicates that the mechanics of sovereignty within public space are pervasive. The contextualization of culture from inside to outside results in a space of conflicting interests, logics, and criteria. Institutional modes operate in explicit ways, thus mutating forms of control. Some logics are shed completely, while others acquire new layers of meaning. How can new layers surface within this realm?

The organizing focus for these concerns is provided by public space and the current articulations of public within the cultural sphere. This study will account for the formation of public in order to illuminate the coordinates within which public art policies are posed. Thus contributing to a shared debate on the formation and utilization of public space, this will provide an approach that is both critical and generative. Essentially, this study will argue that, like the public museum, the supposed democratic public space of representation is an illusion that serves to regulate and govern both the objects and subjects circulated within it. Dialogue and, more specifically, negotiation have the ability to shift the ground of representation and designate a space for the interdisciplinary nature of new cultural forms.


         Branwen Jones received her BA in Art History from Vassar College in 1998. Prior to pursuing graduate studies in Arts Administration, she worked at Sotheby’s in New York City. At SAIC, she has focused on cultural policy studies. Branwen interned at Creative Time and currently works at Donald Young Gallery.


Thesis Advisor: Nicholas Lowe, Visiting Artist, Arts Administration

Thesis Reader: Toby Miller, Professor, English, Sociology and Women’s Studies; Director, Film & Visual Culture; University of California, Riverside




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