Tate Modern, London

  • Tim Marlow

    Curator and Broadcaster (Chair)

  • Mark Quinn


  • Janet Street-Porter

    Vice President of the Ramblers' Association

  • Ruth Mackenzie

    Director of the Cultural Olympiad

  • Sir Ian Blair

    Former Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police

  • Sarah Gaventa

    CABE Director of Public Space 

  • Gus Casely-Hayford

    Cultural Historian

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Artichoke’s work is central to the ongoing debate about how our cities and spaces are run.

From The Sultan’s Elephant to Antony Gormley’s One & Other in Trafalgar Square, our projects positively aim to disrupt the routine and rhythm of daily life. The use of public space is highly contested, particularly given that it is being increasingly privatised. While events of certain stature, like marathons or military celebrations, are permitted to close roads and disrupt the daily routine, culture is often left by the wayside. This discussion offered a fresh perspective on the right of art to impact public places and spaces.

Artichoke teamed up with Sky Arts and Tate to deliver a series of debates, or ‘salons’ which all centre around the nature and use of public space.

The first Salon in this series was called The Politics of Cultural Disruption, and focused on the politics of the public domain: who controls our public space, and who decides what is appropriate (or not).

Artichoke’s work is central to this ongoing debate. From The Sultan’s Elephant to Antony Gormley’s One & Other in Trafalgar Square, our projects positively aim to disrupt daily life, and challenge the generally-held consensus that our cities are primarily for commerce and traffic, rather than for communal activities and fun.

How we use our public space is fiercely contested, while the space itself is being increasingly privatised via the back door. Be it public art, sporting events, political demonstrations, the right to take a photograph, or simply sitting on the grass, these collective interventions are controlled and regulated. While some events are given carte blanche to close the streets, others are put under pressure to relocate into parks and gardens, or simply not permitted to take place at all.

Our inspiring and opinionated panel of speakers responded to questions from the audience and thrashed out key arguments of this significant debate. The panelists were: artist Marc Quinn; Janet Street-Porter, Vice President of the Ramblers’ Association; Ruth Mackenzie, director of the Cultural Olympiad; Sir Ian Blair, former Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police; CABE Director of Public Space Sarah Gaventa; and cultural historian Gus Casely-Hayford. Curator and broadcaster Tim Marlow chaired the discussion.

Produced in collaboration with Intelligence Squared

The Politics of Cultural Disruption: Part 1 of 3

The Politics of Cultural Disruption: Part 2 of 3

The Politics of Cultural Disruption: Part 3 of 3