Public spaces, between interaction and
To enter in contact with the outside and directly with the world,
without any filters or intermediation of institutional places, which can
be between the work and its user, has always represented for the artist
a great occasion and also a difficult situation where the balances,
between creativity and commissioner, are usually hard and where the aim
is not as clear as it should be.
From the experience of Situationist International (1958-1972), ‘public’
manifestations are developed in different forms of arts and, thanks also
to a wider ‘democratization’ of the production processes together with
cultural use, also art places are increased out of all proportions.
So, no longer classical squares or gardens, but hangars, ex industrial
areas and many ‘urban empty spaces’ have become theatre of exhibitions,
performances, site specific installations etc, places where quite
everything is allowed.
So, the ‘public’ art seems to run on parallel railways: the ‘official’
railway of the public commissioner, that should guarantee selection and
quality; and the ‘underground’ railway that develops everywhere from
anybody and, for its own nature, hard to analyse from critical point of
But actually, it is a little different: the corrupted relation between
policy and public administration, sometimes develops mediocre and
embarrassing forms of art which have nothing to do with the symbolic or
critic role they should have, but only peculiar to the profit of the
artist and to the people around.
Instead, always more and more ‘independent’ situations (with the
appropriate creaming off) become the interpreters of collective meanings
and values, maintaining a stronger critical attitude towards social
questions related to that art fed by that power.
Anyway, rightly or wrongly, public art keeps the distance from the
identity and subjectivity of the artist, to enter in relation with the
surrounding space, with people’s lives becoming part of them.
But, getting far from time and space the work of art in our city,
becomes art of the urban space, culture transmitted to our descendants,
it becomes story.
For this reason it would be important that people, who are called to
choose and to realise these works, would use all their sensibility and
their civic mindedness. It would be important that the artists’provocations
wouldn’t be an end in themselves. Furthermore, it would be very
important that public money would not be thrown away to create
cathedrals to abandon in suburban deserts.
It would be…
Katharina Grosse - Untitled -
2010 - Acryl auf Leinwand / acrylic on canvas - 214,5 x 145 cm
© Katharina Grosse und VG Bild-Kunst Bonn 2010
Courtesy Barbara Gross Galerie, München
Photographer: Olaf Bergmann