Ordering the Public

From 26 June to 2 July 2015, Amy Spiers and Catherine Ryan presented a performance work, Ordering the Public, in Vienna, Austria as part of the 2015 Vienna Biennale’s Performing Public Art Festival, curated by Peter Weibel and Gerald Bast.

During the festival, professional security guards were hired to patrol Mariahilfer Straße, Praterstern and various other busy public places in central Vienna. At designated times, a single behaviour was deemed no longer “acceptable” in a particular public space. These behaviours were simple, innocuous things, such as pointing, lying down in a park or walking too slowly – activities that are by no means suspicious in and of themselves. It was the guards’ job to approach members of the public and request that they desist from the behaviour that was temporarily “inappropriate” in their assigned patrol area.

Ordering the Public is part of a series of works that explore and interfere with what is visible and permissible in public space. Other works in this Public Order series include Closed to the Public (Protecting Space)Nothing to See Here (Dispersal) and No More Public Space, Only Public Order (Water Cannon).

In addition to the Ordering the Public performance, documentation of Spiers and Ryan’s previous works were part of an exhibition at the Angewandte Innovation Lab that accompanied the Performing Public Art Festival. The exhibition was open from 11 June to 31 July.

This project was assisted by the Australian Government through the Australia Council, its arts funding and advisory body.