Palm Tree Whispers and Mountain Escapes: How Contemporary Artworks Contribute to an Inclusive Public Sphere

Open Access Journal | ISSN: 2183-2803

Article | Open Access

Palm Tree Whispers and Mountain Escapes: How Contemporary Artworks Contribute to an Inclusive Public Sphere


  • Annatina Aerne IDHEAP, University of Lausanne, Switzerland


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Abstract:  How do artworks contribute to a more inclusive public sphere? Artworks contribute to the inclusiveness of a public sphere in that they help us consider previous objects as acting subjects, and thus as entities deserving membership in the public sphere. In addition, artworks typically attract a public, thus generating the necessary recognition for additional subjects. We propose a typology that categorizes artworks’ contribution to an inclusive public sphere. The typology is based on two axes: (a) artworks’ explicitness in attributing the status of a subject to a previous object and (b) the number of people that get to see the artwork. In order to illustrate the applicability of the typology and in order to understand how the two dimensions relate to one another, we analyze how two artworks include the non‐human as subjects into the public sphere: Eduardo Navarro’s Sound Mirror (shown at the 2016 São Paulo Biennal) and Prabhakar Pachpute’s Mountain Escape (exhibited in the 2016 Colombian Salón Nacional de Artistas). Comparing both artistic strategies we find that there may be a trade‐off between the explicitness and the reach of a new subjectification.

Keywords:  art; art world; contemporary art; distribution of the sensible; Eduardo Navarro; environmental art; global art market; Jacques Rancière; Latin American art; Latin America; inclusiveness; Oliver Marchart; Prabhakar Pachpute; public sphere; political art

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.17645/si.v9i4.4180


© Annatina Aerne. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0), which permits any use, distribution, and reproduction of the work without further permission provided the original author(s) and source are credited.