Thanks: Didier Faustino, Silvia Benedito
Team: Tanuja Mishra, Tony Li, Hanwei Li
Year: 2016
Site: Harvard Science Center Plaza

Public Nomadic 
24 Hours

As the common property of all the citizens, public space is a social space that is generally open and accessible to people. However, insititutions which should take the responsibility of safeguarding this common property gradually turn to taking charge of the space.

A common way of controlling public space is to program various activities that impose limits upon how the space could be used. In the Science Center Plaza, food trucks and retail vendors occupy the space for their business profits with the permission of some legal insititutions which have ‘the right’ to develop and implement the rules and regulations of public space.

The issue addressed here deals with this invisible authority vis-à-vis civil rights in public space. How do people understand these two notions? What are their rights and obligations in the public sphere? What should be allowed and what should be restriced and limited? Who has the right to decide what should be done and what should not in the public space? By creating a problematic situation for people to participate in, we use public art to raise these questions.

We set up two tents in the Plaza for one full day from morning to night. We placed a placard on the tent mentioning that people could inhabit the tent after signing the necessary paperwork. We faked paperwork to make the occupation of the tent in the public space seem legally sanctioned. The paperwork consisted of a lease document titled “Harvard University Public Space Lease”, which was a photoshopped version of the actual Harvard University Housing Lease. Other documents included a master plan which showed the location and boundary of this temporary territory and an information sheet about the details of this property.

1) Step one: choose a public nomadic space to occupy

2) Step two: apply and sign a 'legal' document.


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