The 2009 Creative Time Summit: Revolutions in Public Practice


About the 2009 Creative Time Summit


The first of what would be the annual Creative Time Summit took place at the New York Public Library. Titled “Revolutions in Public Practice,” it was devoted to exploring a growing but still difficult-to-define artistic practice. Called variously socially engaged art, social aesthetics, participatory art, dialogic art, political art, and other names, the practice had been growing for some two decades and had produced some of the most exciting work to be experienced anywhere, despite existing outside of museums and galleries. The Summit was intended to fill the need for practitioners of this art to meet with others, share ideas, and learn–to create a community. to discover the methodologies and strategies behind this work, which addresses social injustice and oppression, and touches people, places, homes, and daily routines.


While the growth of this practice has certainly been noticeable, its histories remain divergent, complicated, and under-investigated. The Summit wanted to answer–or at least to raise–some questions: How does this practice affect and reflect the world today? What does it do? What are the forms of analysis appropriate to understanding what the work is?


The most critical outcome for this weekend was the collective production of a sense of community. And although this Summit was to some degree relentless, we encouraged visitors to escape at times to our Conversation Room, where more intimate conversations could take place between audience and presenter. The active engagement of the audience with the questions and practices being presented increased the potential for exploration far after the Summit ended.


As an organization that works solely in the public sphere, Creative Time considers a major part of its mission to be the expansion of the consideration of public-based work. The Summit is now an annual event–the only regularly scheduled conference on the intersection of art and social justice–and a critical element among Creative Time’s rich constellation of programs and projects.