About / Vision & theoretical framework
PUBLIC ART: (PUBLIC) ART AND PUBLIC SPACE
Public art has diverse meanings but one relation always exists: public art occupies public space and therefore- public art is intended to be physically and freely accessible to the public. Public art is often site specific or audience specific and relates to the context in which it is sited. It can be both permanent and temporary, internal and external, and large or small scale. Public art can embrace all art forms and its parameters are continually expanding.
Public art is widely understood to have many benefits to urban quality:
• in helping to improve the quality of an environment and as a vehicle for involving the community in environmental improvements,
• in helping to create a sense of identity, uniqueness, and civic pride,
• as a way of celebrating place, historical heritage or of highlighting particular characteristics which relate to a specific site.
Nevertheless, relation between public and art could be completely different than genesis, creation, perception and art recep-tion, felted by public. Next few lines written by Stevan Vukovic will describe it in more explicit way.
PUBLIC ART VERSUS ART IN PUBLIC SPACE
“There are a number of expected roles of an artwork placed in public space. To name just a few: adding visual quality to a built environment, demonstrating certain urban planning and urban design strategy, promoting higher level of integration between art, architecture, and the landscape through artists’ collaboration with architects,
landscape architects, city planners, urban designers, and city administrators, increasing cultural awareness, making works of contemporary art more easily reachable for general public, providing new jobs for free-lance artists by public commissions, attracting tourists, visually marking a site of communal importance, generating a sense of pride and belonging to groups that are using it, by memorizing an event from their collective history, or providing a communal image.“
“Art history has from its very beginnings included a history of artworks situated in various public spaces. But, being simply put outdoors, say, in front of a representative building, does not necessarily and immediately render an artwork to be ‘public art’. In order to become such, it has to acquire a performative role in the collective imaginary and spatial experiences of the ones who are using the space in which it is placed, and a developed relation towards the signifying practices in the social and cultural milieu they share.“
SITE–SPECIFIC, CONTEXT SPECIFIC, AND COMMUNITY ORIENTED ART
“Site specific artwork is created to exist in a certain place, and its composition is fully dependent on the manner it is placed in that spatial setting – it does not function separately. The origin of the basic idea, and, later on, the project the artist is to realize at the site, is being derived out of the research of the site itself, and, even though it may contain sculptural elements, it cannot function in a gallery or other spatial setting the same way it does at the site to which it is specific – it can never be reduced to gallery type of sculpture.“
“Context-specificity was derived out of research of specific sites, which has included, in the methodological sense, different types of contextualizing mechanisms, that were taken by the artists from the fields of history, social theory, structural linguistics, architecture, urbanism, etc.“
“In contemporary debates, the context specificity has so much overpowered site specificity that actually, they became centered around ”a notion of the community or the public as the site and the public artist as one whose work is responsive to the issues, needs, and concerns that define that elusive, hard-to-define entity.” Therefore, issues like aging, the environment, social exclusion, healthcare, disability or intergenerational communication gain as much of importance to artists as the problems of the formal organization and the spatial installation of a work in a specific institutional and historical context. Artists have started working in hospitals, unions, community centers, prisons and juvenile halls, and with community-based organizing groups, youth organizations, and social workers. In other words, they have shifted their interest from the very public site to the public sphere.“
PUBLIC SPHERE, DEMOCRATIC SPHERE, CULTURAL CITIZENSHIP
“However one would define the term public space, the definition has to take into account both the right of public access to it, and the right of participation in its use, on the individual, and on the collective level (as groups and communities). In the very ideal sense, a public space would be the one where everyone has a right to come to without being excluded because of economic or social conditions, and use it freely for any activity that does not conflict the rights of other groups and individuals that may be using it as well; while in a broader meaning it includes also places, such as a café, train, or a movie theater, where everybody can come if paying, and sticking to certain regulations.“
“Cultural understandings of citizenship are exploring the beyond of the formal issues of who is entitled to vote and the mainte-nance of an active civil society, questioning whose cultural needs and practices are acknowledged, legitimized and respected, and whose not.
As Renato Rosaldo argues in his seminal article, titled “Cultural citizenship, inequality and multiculturalism”, cultural citizenship is concerned with “who needs to be visible, to be heard, and to belong”, and the ability to foster visibility of those needs and claims, as well as the practical, creative, not just legislative mandate to the empowerment of these groups and individuals lies mainly on cultural workers, and more that any other - artists.“
PLACEMAKING: PUBLIC ARTWORK AS PUBLIC PLACE
“On the level of ordinary life, that reflects as mass withdrawal from the urban realm that is left to those who have no private places to reside in, while the casual strolls on public squares and streets are being replaced by tourist visits to places that are branded as being different. Tourism, as a sign-driven, design-intensive industry, supplements the lack of the public spaces by producing views, spectacles, environments, and simulations, taking people into what Augé calls non-places.“
“In such an urban setting that is becoming filled with non-places, public art gains also the role of a ‘placemaking agency’, as it was proposed and elaborated on by Ronald Lee Fleming and Renata von Tscharner, in their book titled Place Makers: Creating Public Art That Tells You Where You Are. Researching a variety of public artworks throughout the USA, ranging from murals to street furniture, they made a compendium of how to use art and design to invent, reinvent, capture or reinforce the unique character of a site or space. What they propose, in fact, is using public art as a specific platform for cultural identity construction, which can be used by any community, or affiliation group, and as a tool for inscribing one’s individual and communal identities and belongings, needs, desires and fantasies into the urban surrounding one inhabits, and is being defined by.
Placemeking aims at reversing the process of cognitive mapping characteristic of the tourist gaze, and foster the production of a sense of place, and it’s location in the network of places in the manner Tilley names as topoanalysis. “Personal and cultural identity is bound up with place; a topoanalysis is one exploring the creation of self-identity through place”, writes Tilley in his APhenomenology of Landscape, adding that the “geographical experience begins in places, reaches out to others through spaces, and creates landscapes or regions for human existence”. Facilitating the process of sharing those regions and jointly constructing others, is the role of a public sphere artist.“