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Public Demands


Description of campaign/project

Public Demands is a creative stand-off and endurance test between the artist, Jason Sweeney, and his audience. The public is invited to make demands of Jason for a 6 weeks, during which time he must respond by making performances, songs, sound, films and text. The public become the provocateurs and content providers – the ones who provide the creative fuel for art work to happen.

This is the risk. Jason must be ready at all times for a public provocation.

Demands must, however, adhere to five artform options only: a pop song, a structuralist film, a soundscape, a three minute documented performance and a relentless list. The public can demand what any of these options will be ‘about’, thus leaving Jason with the task of interpreting each one with a sudden creative response. All material will be blogged and uploaded to this website for the demanders, and general public, to watch, read and listen.

The underlying idea is that Jason is giving back to the audience by accepting their ‘demanding submissions’ – a direct, active, creative two-way engagement.


Only by way of an audience submission is this work is possible.

Public Demands does not rely on monetary exchange to participate – but relies the imagination and generosity of the wider public – and the subsequent imagination and renegade nature of the artist, Jason Sweeney.

The idea and call-out for submissions for the work takes place across social media networks, emails lists, word of mouth and physical peer-to-peer. I believe in a very simple and minimal way of communicating - not in an overload of information but rather through a concise idea that can inspire and engage an audience to want to participate.

This project opens up the idea of a creative democracy where the artist faciliates the process for participation. A member of the public is then given the immediate opportunity to be creative and to provoke the artist into making a new work.

This project has great benefits for the artist by providing an intimate and very real exchange with the audience. It is sincere, immediate, fresh and no longer anonymous.

Curators comments More info on Curators & Editors ›

Of late I have been thinking, through my own practice, of the idea of necessity. Works seem to generate most meaning when they come from environments in which they feel necessary.

But sometimes being unnecessary becomes a necessity in itself – and I suspect it is here, when something slightly absurd emerges from a sense of necessity, that Public Demands resides.

Public Demands has been beautifully executed Jason. It is clear the form has been thought through with a sensitivity that strives to illustrate the personal exchanges that have been central to the creation of this work. The website further allows me to enter into the work, despite having not been lucky enough to participate in it directly myself. And it is this kind of extension, the beautiful dispersal and transmission of the project as a form of residue after the initial performance/event that increases its life as a work. That allows it to unfold.

My only hesitation is that the work in itself could become a little formulaic – not in terms of its repetition but in terms of the creative language it employs as a whole. Conceptual, participatory, new media and performative art practices in themselves often adopt form(-ulas) that have become expected and made familiar within certain realms of contemporary cultural practice.

I wonder what form(-ulas) this work could employ so as to move beyond these safer artistic conventions and into a space where there is a greater sense of creative risk.

As you say Public Demands seeks to bridge the divide between the public and the artist, which is an idea in itself loosely based in the common belief that audiences need to be activated and engaged. I wonder if you have ever come across a beautiful essay by Jacques Rancière called The Emancipated Spectator? This has influenced my own work in so many ways. In it Ranciere turns many of our commonly held ideas about audience emancipation on their head, by arguing that the framework through which we have come to understand emancipation in the arts is itself rooted in an allegory of inequality that we need to step outside of in order to move beyond. I would be interested to know if you find anything useful in his thoughts on this subject.

View other works commented by Alana Hunt  ››

DEMAND #361: WRITE AN INTELLIGENT COMMENT ON YOUR WORK. I always dreamed about "Heinzelmännchen" (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heinzelmännchen), these little gnomes doing the work for me: "Once upon a time in Cologne, how comfortable it was with the Heinzelmen! For if you were lazy, ... you just lied down on your bench and took care of yourself. Then at night, before one knew it, came the little men and swarmed and clattered and rattled and plucked and picked and jumped and trotted and cleaned and scoured - and even before a lazy bum awoke, all his daily work was ... already done!" And: One of the best performances ever is "Rhythm 0" (1974) by Marina Abramović. Abramović had placed upon a table 72 objects that people were allowed to use in any way that they chose. Some of these were objects that could give pleasure, while others could be wielded to inflict pain, or to harm her. In asking the audience to participate in a piece of art can take a real strong momentum. And I like to integrate the audience in the piece from the beginning. Thumbs up for the courage and the experimental, intimate and democratical approach!

View other works commented by Alain Bieber  ››

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This work has been commented by 2 curator(s):
Alana Hunt Alain Bieber go to comments ›

Entry details


Public Demands


A creative stand-off and endurance test between the artist, Jason Sweeney, and his audience.

Concept author(s)

Jason Sweeney

Concept author year(s) of birth


Concept author(s) contribution

Artist/Maker, facilitator, web coder and communicator.



Competition category


Competition field


Competition subfield


Subfield description

Jason makes participatory art online, in performance and with sound. He continues to search out ways of working/living as an artist – finding cross-art approaches to making/creating. He looks for a peculiarity in the world and hones in on it, something which defines the practice. It is unnameable. It is a queer thing. It refuses to be held down. It is a shape-shifter. It embraces cultural diversity. It is not about a specific language but rather about a language unknown, a language to be found through code, random sonic transmissions, chasing the signal, gestural signs, a simple embrace.