Public Art Dialogue Special Edition Outside Voices: Art, Visibility, and the Gender of Public Speech

Edited by Kimberly Lamm


Public Art Dialogue

In this special issue of Public Art Dialogue devoted to “Outside Voices,” we consider how artists have made language into a material that speaks to the inequities of the public sphere. Whether with voice, text, or written inscription, modern and contemporary art has a rich (if not fully acknowledged) tradition of incorporating language into the visual frame. There are the fragmentary and unmoored “word-image[s]” of Cubism, Surrealism, and Dadaism; the calligraphic gestures and scrawled texts of Abstract Expressionism; the stenciled letters, brand names, advertising copy, and dialogue balloons of Pop; the sober displays of words, sentences, and semiotic systems in Conceptual Art; the puzzle-like arrangements of found typographies in Fluxus; the play with dialogue and vocal embodiment in video; the screams, murmurs, and scripts of performance art. And, of course, there is public art. With its posters, interviews, billboards, banners, signs, flags, songs, and archives, contemporary public art’s linguistic expressions manifest its aspiration to contest global capitalism, repair its deleterious effects, and illuminate countermemories that write against the grain of dominant histories.