CIRCA (art platform)

Last updated
Cultural Institute of Radical Contemporary Arts
FoundedOctober 2020 [1]
Headquarters Piccadilly Circus, London [2] [3]
Area servedWorldwide (London, New York, Seoul, Tokyo, Berlin, Milan, Los Angeles, Melbourne) [4]
Founder(s) Josef O'Connor [2] [1] [5] [4]
IndustryArt & Culture

The Cultural Institute of Radical Contemporary Arts (CIRCA) is an art and culture platform based in London's Piccadilly Circus. [3] [2] Founded in October 2020, they commission and stream a monthly programme of art and culture, every evening at 20:22 (local time) across a global network of billboards in London, Tokyo, New York, Los Angeles, Milan, Berlin, Melbourne and Seoul. [5] [6]



The 4K display billboards at Piccadilly Circus 4K Display Piccadilly Circus 2017.jpg
The 4K display billboards at Piccadilly Circus

CIRCA was established in 2020 [7] by British-Irish artist Josef O'Connor. [8] [7] [9] Their free public art programme is presented in partnership with Europe's largest screen, [2] Piccadilly Lights, and distributed across a global network of billboard screens in Tokyo and Seoul. [10] [11] [1]

The daily public art programme pauses the advertisements across a global network of screens for three minutes every evening. They commission new work to fill the space that considers the world in response to the present year: circa 2020, 2021, etc. [2] It is the largest digital art exhibition in Europe. [2]

The first artist to fill the three-minute daily slot was Ai Weiwei, [11] who is quoted as saying in an interview with The Art Newspaper that "CIRCA 20:20 offers a very important platform for artists to exercise their practice and to reach out to a greater public”. [2] Other notable artists and curators whose works have been exhibited as part of the CIRCA programme include Yoko Ono, Marina Abramović, Cauleen Smith, Eddie Peake, [2] [7] Patti Smith, [12] [7] James Barnor, [13] [14] [7] Vivienne Westwood [8] David Hockney, [6] Alvaro Barrington and Anne Imhof. [7]

Each commission for the project is approved by an independent council chaired by the British independent curator and ex-director and chief curator of The Royal Academy, Norman Rosenthal. Other members include the Ghanaian-British architect Sir David Adjaye, Ramita Navai, Greg Sanderson and Patrick Morey-Burrows. [15]


Each month, the exhibiting artist creates an affordable print [12] that is sold online in support of the #CIRCAECONOMY initiative. Launched with Ai Weiwei in October 2020, a percentage of the profits from each print is circulated back into helping build an economy that commissions new public art in the community, nurture more diverse cultural industries and supports emerging creative potential. In May 2021, CIRCA partnered with Dazed to launch 'Class of 2021' a new global arts initiative awarding one emerging artist with a #CIRCAECONOMY cash prize of £30,000 generated from the sale of artist prints. [16]

Profits have also been used to support institutions, including Chisenhale Gallery and The Showroom with no-strings cash grants. [17] Since launching in October 2020, CIRCA has distributed over £500,000 in cash grants, scholarships [18] and donations. Following the success of their Yoko Ono [19] collaboration in March 2022, CIRCA donated £300,000 to the United Nations Central Emergency Response Fund


Every month since launching in October 2020, CIRCA has commissioned new-media work from emerging and established artists. The work is often socially involved and motivated by the desire to engage with public discourse and debate. For three minutes each day, a monthly rotating digital art programme pauses the commercial advertisements on London's iconic Piccadilly Lights, Seoul's K-Pop Square and Tokyo's Yunika Vision. [5] [20] [9]

On the occasion of British artist David Hockney presenting his iPad drawing “Remember you cannot look at the sun or death for very long,” in May 2021, a total of 85 screens, including New York Times Square and Pendry West Hollywood joined CIRCA in presenting the largest digital art exhibition in the world. [6]

The CIRCA public art programme is free to attend and presented at the same time every evening - 20:20 throughout the year 2020 and 20:21 throughout the year 2021, and so forth. [5] It is also streamed on the CIRCA website. [2] [1]

CIRCA 2020

Patti Smith, CIRCA 2021 Patti Smith Photo Booth.jpg
Patti Smith, CIRCA 2021

CIRCA 2021

CIRCA 2022

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