Oh, public art. You know it, you love it. Well, that’s probably not true…you probably hate it sometimes. I’ve been thinking about the topic a lot as I prepare to take part this Saturday in a day-long symposium sponsored by Austin’s Art in Public Places program.
I’ll be participating in a panel discussion at 2:15 with fellow art blogger and curator, ‘Bout What I Sees writer Jaime Salvador Castillo as well as Nicole Vlado, the savvy Internal Affairs Coordinator for UT Austin’s Landmarks Program. I would love to see you there!
We’ve been asked to exchange thoughts about some very tough stuff that’s been eating at my brain. Specifically:
What is public art’s role?
What would an ideal public (city run?) art program look like?
What is the community’s role in shaping a visual identity for a city?
I do know this: the monument as we know it? More or less defunct. The notion of creating public works that will last for an eternity? Yawn. We need engagement and dialogue, temporary works that engage various communities in a timely manner. We need to get our hands dirty and tackle tough community issues and bring people together. But not in a touchy feeling, early 90’s kind of way either! This is a darn tough job, alright.
As I prepare, I’ve been making a catalog of random thoughts on public art.
Stuff I like to See!
The Tate Modern recently recreated Morris’ incredible 1971 interactive installation, Bodyspacemotionthings, with great success. The people love to play! Let them climb on stuff!
The WPA said no, the UN said no, but Atlanta said yes! This is the only playground Noguchi ever created in America!
Polish-born MIT guru "project(s) images of community
members’ hands, faces, or entire bodies onto architectural
façades…Wodiczko challenges the silent, stark
monumentality of buildings, activating them in an examination of
notions of human rights, democracy, and truths about the violence,
alienation, and inhumanity that underlie countless aspects of social
interaction in present-day society."
This brilliant Chicago-based collective put up a simple clipboard asking for written responses after a public sculpture was installed without any conversation in the community. The responses from this rapidly shifting (and gentrifying) community are hilarious, insightful and tender. Make sure to read the full responses, available here.
Instead of just painting over graffiti, the local government will ask the people to vote on whether or not it is worth saving. Will this inspire more DIY action or curb it, I wonder?!
And finally…Saturday night after the symposium! This is going to be amazing…
Forklift Danceworks’ Trash Project is "an investigation into the work of trash collection–
specifically focusing on the employees of Austin’s Solid Waste Services
(SWS) Department. Showcasing 20-25 employees as the exclusive performers and over 15
vehicles, including rear-loading trash trucks, a crane, and a bucket
truck, the choreography for the performance will come from movement the
employees perform in their daily work." WOAH. This is what I’m talking about.
So tell me this: what is some "stuff you like to see"? Which local, national, or international public art projects have made your heart go pitter patter, and why? Drop me a line and let’s get a discussion going on public art here and beyond.
also by Kate Watson
- Interview with RoseLee Goldberg - January 25th, 2010
- Stuff I love about EAST - November 13th, 2009
- One is silver and the other... - November 6th, 2009
- A Conversation with Arturo Palacios on the eve of his move to Houston - November 4th, 2009
- Don’t bore us, get to the chorus (that means you, Dave Hickey!) - October 22nd, 2009