Public Art Review issue 52 - 2015 (spring/summer)

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Public Art Review Issue 52 • Spring/Summer 2015 •

Issue 52 • Janet Echelman • 2nd International Award • Funding • Tunisia Street Art


Public Art Review







Jackie Chang “jUSt“ Miami Children‘s Courthouse, Miami, FL

Franz Mayer of Munich |


$16.00 USD

| |

Public Art Review Issue 52 • Spring/Summer 2015 • Volume 26 • Number 2

FEATURES 34 Art in the Arab Street Tunisia’s Djerbahood project brought together 150 street artists from 30 countries


38 Remembering in Light Karim Jabbari honors Tunisians who died in the city of Kasserine during Arab Spring


42 Discovering the Unknown DANIEL TUCKER Interview: Janet Echelman discusses the development of her wondrous net-like scuptures 51 Honoring Excellence Introducing the finalists for the 2nd International Award for Public Art 66 Funded How artists are affected by various funding mechanisms



ON THE COVER Janet Echelman’s Skies Painted with Unnumbered Sparks was installed temporarily at the TED Conference’s 30th anniversary in Vancouver, British Columbia, in 2014. It is Echelman’s largest, most interactive sculpture installation to date, at 745 feet wide and 24 stories high. Read an interview with Echelman on page 42. Photo by Ema Peter, courtesy Studio Echelman.

THIS PAGE The City of Sydney recently committed $9.3 million for three major public art projects, including $3.5 million for Cloud Arch by Tokyo-based artist Junya Ishigami. Construction of the sculpture, to be set in front of Sydney’s Town Hall, is expected to begin in 2017. Learn more about how public artworks are funded—and how artists are affected by funding—on page 66. Photo rendering courtesy the artist.

Public Art Review Issue 52 • Spring/Summer 2015 • Volume 26 • Number 2


8 FORECAST NEWS News from the organization that publishes Public Art Review

11 PUBLISHER’S NOTE Making Change


13 IN THE FIELD News, views, and ideas

13 Seeing the Forest and the Trees:

TOP: Photo by David Brown Photography. MIDDLE: Photos by David Puig Serinyà/Glósóli Ateljé. BOTTOM: Image courtesy Victoria Gallo, Illustradores con Ayotzinapa.


Konstantin Dimopoulos’s The Blue Trees project

16 Pratt Launches Placemaking Program


17 Glass Fusions: Material innovations


22 Remembering with Beads: Walking With Our Sisters


24 Game Theory: Puckelboll, an artful playing field


26 Room for Everyone: How a new administrator




reached out to underrepresented artists

28 History on a Billboard: A manifest destiny project




Bloomberg Public Art Challenge Finalists Announced

30 SOAP BOX Bravo, Sort Of: On language and public art


75 ON LOCATION Global reports

75 Stories from Yangon: Burma’s 29th Street Serenade


79 Meet Virginia: Arlington’s public art collection


82 Revolutionary Art in the Digital Realm:


Social media in Ferguson and Iguala

89 BOOKS Publications and reviews SHAUNA DEE




96 LAST PAGE Future Reading: Katie Paterson’s Future Library


Public Art Review ISSUE 52 • SPRING/SUMMER 2015 • VOLUME 26 • NUMBER 2

PUBLISHER. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Jack Becker EXECUTIVE EDITOR. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Karen Olson SENIOR EDITOR . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Joseph Hart COPY EDITOR. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Loma Huh EDITORIAL ASSISTANT. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Jen Dolen EDITORIAL INTERN. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Anna Renken DESIGN AND CREATIVE DIRECTION. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . MCAD DesignWorks ADVERTISING SALES. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Seth Hoyt OPERATIONS MANAGER. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Stacey Holland CIRCULATION COORDINATOR. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Shauna Dee MULTIMEDIA COORDINATOR. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Amy Danielson

ADVISORS David Allen

Mary Jane Jacob

Jerry Allen

Mark Johnstone

Penny Balkin Bach

Elizabeth Keithline

Thomas Bannister

Stephen Knapp

Ricardo Barreto

Suzanne Lacy

Cathey Billian

Jack Mackie

C. Fuller Cowles

Jill Manton

Susan Doerr

Jennifer McGregor

Greg Esser

Patricia C. Phillips

Thomas Fisher

Joyce Pomeroy Schwartz

Amelia Foster

Phil Pregill

Gretchen Freeman

Wang Dawei

Glenn Harper

Shelly Willis


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Forecast Public Art OUR MISSION Forecast Public Art is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization that strengthens and advances the field of public art—locally, nationally, and internationally—by expanding participation, supporting artists, informing audiences, and assisting communities. FORECAST STAFF Jack Becker Executive Director + Principal Stacey Holland Associate Director Kirstin Wiegmann Consultant and Program Director: Artist Services, Education + Community Engagement Amy Danielson Marketing + Communications Manager Shauna Dee Information + Communications Coordinator Jessica Fiala Program Associate FORECAST BOARD OF DIRECTORS Bob Kost (Chair) Darcy Berus Bob Close Amy Dillahunt Frank Fitzgerald Kurt Gough Christine Hammes Elizabeth Jolly Wendy Lane Susan Adams Loyd Meena Mangalvedhekar Laurence Margolis Caroline Mehlhop Avital Rabinowitz Hlee Vang Michael Watkins

MAJOR FUNDERS F. R. Bigelow Foundation Jerome Foundation Lowertown Future Fund Mardag Foundation The McKnight Foundation Minnesota Philanthropy Partners Minnesota State Arts Board / Clean Water, Land and Legacy Amendment National Endowment for the Arts Saint Paul Cultural STAR Program The Saint Paul Foundation Travelers Foundation PLACEMAKERS $1,000+ Anonymous (4) Bill and Jann Becker Elizabeth and Eric Jolly Larry La Bonté and Kathryn Shaw Meg Saligman STEWARDS $500+ Sue Amundson Charles Fuller and Constance Mayeron Cowles Jonathan and Coco Early Bob Kost Wendy Lane and Judith Fairbrother Karin and Larry Margolis Jennifer Martin Michael C. Mayer Stuart Nielsen Thomas Von Sternberg and Eve Parker Wet Paint, Inc. COMMUNITY BUILDERS $300+ Stuart and Romy Ackerberg The Lowbrow Colleen Carey and Pam Endean Frank Fitzgerald Friends of the Arts Commission (Sacramento) Jim Gallucci Sculptor Ltd. Walt and Cheryl Hobbs David Johnson Jane and Richard Levy Susan Loyd

Publisher of Public Art Review

Meena Mangalvedhekar Patricia Phillips Joyce Pomeroy Schwartz Philip Pregill Michael Watkins SUPPORTERS $135+ Jerry Allen Anne T. Alwell and Tullio Alessi Rebecca Ansert Bader Development Jack Becker and Nancy Reynolds Colombik Studios Tom Bannister John and Kathy Barlow Harriet Bart Tim Carl Mark C. Childs Dan Cornejo Jay and Page Cowles Laura and John Crosby David Dahlquist Catherine Reid Day and John Forde Amy Dillahunt Dubliner Pub Electroland LLC Ming Fay Carole Fisher Ronald Lee Fleming Kyle Fokken Vickie Foster Christy and Gary Fox Cameron Gainer Kurt Gough David Griggs Joan Hall Ron Harvey Alison Hildreth Seth Hoyt Sarah Hutt Greg Ingraham Donna Isaac Anne Jin Soo Preston Mark Johnstone Paula and Ken Justich Elizabeth Keithline

Larry Kirkland Suzanne Lacy Helen Lessick Weiming and Caroline Lu Michael Marti Jennifer McGregor Wendy and Malcolm McLean Kelly McManus Donald McNeil and Emily Galusha Caroline and Scott Mehlhop Scott and Barbara Nelson Sarah Conley Odenkirk Marc Pally Jody Pinto Marylynn Pulscher and James A. Bode Greg Reiche Karen Reid Janet Rice Julius Rosenwald III James Rustad Sarah Schultz and Jeffrey Sugerman Andy Scott Bruce Shapiro Howard Sneider Rich Sorich - Iowa West Foundation Mark Spitzer Joseph Stanley and Lori Zook-Stanley Lynne Stanley Jerry Stein Spar Street Mark Thistlethwaite Shelly Willis Charles Zelle



RARE: RICHFIELD ARTIST RESIDENT ENGAGEMENT Forecast recently launched an artist residency in partnership with The Cornerstone Group, a progressive real estate developer. Commissioned by the City of Richfield, The Cornerstone Group designed a new town square, Lyndale Gardens, featuring a food cooperative, affordable housing, an amphitheater, an urban farm, and creative spaces. Forecast worked with Cornerstone to develop RARE: Richfield Artist Resident Engagement, an artist residency designed to build a vibrant future in partnership with Richfield residents. RARE’s pilot this year will feature public artists Witt Siasoco and Emily Johnson creating artistic interventions to further conversations about how arts can play a role in the lives of residents. Out of these conversations, the artists will design larger community engagement projects.

ABOVE: Performers at the 2014 EcoArts Fest.

OPENSPACE/OPENBAR This spring, Forecast hosted an OpenSpace/ OpenBar (OSOB) event around the question, “What does it mean to be inclusive in the field of public art?” OSOB is a quarterly event at Forecast that invites participants to discuss a central topic relevant to the field. For this iteration, 50 community members, artists, and administrators explored themes such as defining and measuring inclusivity, accessibility, outreach, and sharing the uneasiness of moving out of comfort zones into new terrain together. ECOARTS FESTIVAL ON HARRIET ISLAND Each year, Forecast partners with ArtStart in St. Paul to bring public art to their annual EcoArts Fest. This year, artist Steve Ackerman will create an interactive public art installation focused on birds of the flyway, and artist Mary Hark will be working at Hancock Elementary School with students to create a series of textile banners for hanging in the trees around the park.

“MAKING IT PUBLIC” WORKSHOP SERIES For artists new to public art, this five-session workshop in Lowertown, St. Paul, will focus on the fundamentals of creating public art, with the goal of helping artists develop projects for public spaces. This spring series closes with three small project grants for participating artists. “TRAINING THE TRAINER” IN NEW LONDON, MINNESOTA As part of an initiative led by the New London Arts Alliance, Forecast delivered a capacity-building workshop series in New London, Minnesota. The “Train the Trainer” program, led by Forecast’s Kirstin Wiegmann, helped build the public art skills of community members. Individuals are now ready to take their new skills, partner with artists, and launch public art projects in their city. The goal is to revitalize the area along the river’s edge.

Photo by Amara Hark Weber.





Connect Stay connected to Forecast Public Art and Public Art Review by visiting our website for new stories and multimedia content, subscribing to our newsletter, and following us on social media.


2015 GRANT RECIPIENTS Forecast announced nine public art grant recipients for 2015. Seitu Jones was awarded the $50,000 McKnight Project Grant for MidCareer Artists to build ARTARK, a floating platform using art and ecology to foster understanding of the Mississippi River watershed and the public’s role as environmental stewards. Tamsie Ringler and Christopher Lutter-Gardella each received $5,000 McKnight Professional Development Grants. Olivia Levins Holden and Witt Siasoco each were awarded $8,000 Jerome Project Grants. Benjamin Moren, D.A. Bullock, Edward Euclide, and Sarah Nassif each received $2,500 Jerome Research and Development/Planning Grants. Forecast’s grants for emerging and mid-career artists in Minnesota support risk-taking, interdisciplinary approaches, and collaborative problem-solving.

In addition to publishing Public Art Review, Forecast Public Art: • O ffers a wide range of expertise to communities seeking help with planning public art projects that serve artists and audiences throughout the region. • Supports artists with grants, workshops, and technical assistance as they grow and develop their careers. • Brings public art concepts and processes into classrooms, inspiring and empowering youth by promoting creativity, critical thinking, and the principles of civic engagement.


Steeped in the history of apartheid, Cape Town’s public art raises questions for all of us BY JACK BECKER focused on transforming and reclaiming public space and building social cohesion. The removal of the Rhodes statue could easily be labeled a “transformative” public art experience that will reopen debates about privilege and change while illustrating that destructive acts can be healing and shape a new kind of public culture. As I now prepare for June’s Public Art Network gathering in Chicago, where I’m presenting on a panel addressing the theme of “change” in the field. I’m reminded of the quote often attributed to Gandhi: “You must be the change you want to see in the world.” The kind of public art we have today was shaped, in great measure, by the ideas, planning, and hard work of many years. This begs the question: How can we get the kind of public art we want in five to ten years? How do we want this field to change for the better? How do artists want to create public art and work with communities? How do program managers want to think and feel about their job and the impact it can have in the world? How do funders want to responsibly set goals and influence change? How can the media be more effective in raising awareness of new works being done, and how can our schools do a better job of teaching the subject of public art? And what new policies can we establish to take public art to the next level? When you think about making change within the broad, expansive field of public art, who do you think is responsible? Who are the change agents in your community, and what’s stopping you from becoming one? With respect to artist Candy Chang, I invite you to fill in the blank: I WISH PUBLIC ART WAS ______________________________________________

Now, try it from this angle: PUBLIC ART WANTS TO BE ____________________________________________

Now clip out what you wrote and tape it to your mirror so you can face the changes you want to make in the world. Consider it your bucket list.

JACK BECKER is the executive director of Forecast Public Art, a nonprofit based in St. Paul, Minnesota, and publisher of Public Art Review.


I SPENT MY 61ST BIRTHDAY, March 9, in Cape Town, South Africa, attending the launch of the 8th annual Infecting The City Festival and participating in the thought-provoking Remaking Place symposium, organized by Jay Pather and hosted by the Gordon Institute for Performing and Creative Arts (GIPCA) at the University of Cape Town (UCT). On the same day, political science student Chumani Maxwele flung a bucket of human excrement at the statue of British colonialist Cecil John Rhodes. The statue, erected in 1934, was sited in the middle of the UCT campus. Maxwele told GOOD magazine, “Seeing the statue every day pained me; it made me very angry…. Rhodes [a nineteenth-century mining magnate and devout imperialist] dispossessed and killed black people. His footprints are all over our country.” One month later, after a series of protests and demonstrations, the statue was removed. The decommissioning itself became an artistic event of sorts, led by the “Rhodes Must Fall” demonstrators. They draped it in chains, doused it in fake blood, smothered its face in plastic and danced around the statue as it was set on a truck to be hauled away. Maxwele’s sentiment was shared by several people I met at the symposium, where topics included “Women, Youth and Public Art”; “Principles of Innovation and Audience Participation and Engagement”; and “Race, Class and Public Art.” Among the many compelling ideas I noted were: “Public space is a traumatic experience for black people [in Cape Town]”; “South Africa is a state of emergency, especially if you’re young, black, and female”; and “Democracy has not given us back our dignity.” The statue of Rhodes is just one of many symbols of institutionalized racism and white power that still stand in Cape Town, more than two decades after the end of apartheid. I couldn’t help but wonder how long these public artworks might remain standing, given the desire to decolonize the region. At the same time, I feel something should be left standing as a powerful reminder of a painful past. I’m struck by the similarity of conversations I’ve had in Cape Town to ones I’m having back home in the United States—and just a few months ago, in Hong Kong during their Occupy movement [see PAR 51]. With 239 years of democracy under our belts here in America, what kind of example are we setting for others? What do South Africans have to look forward to? Infecting The City demonstrated the power of public art as a disruption of the dominant narrative by inserting a different story


Making Change



Seeing the Forest and the Trees A natural “installation” uses public art to raise awareness of deforestation

Photo courtesy the artist.

BY DR. CHRISTINA LANZL W H E N CO N C E P T UA L A N D E N V I R O N M E N TA L a r t i s t K o n s t a n t i n Dimopoulos moved to Melbourne, Australia, from New Zealand, he was struck by the abundance of trees in his new surroundings. With a population of 4.25 million, Melbourne boasts 70,000 trees, which cover 20 percent of the city—and city planners hope to increase that ratio to 40 percent. Besides being a beautiful sight, trees have an increasingly important role in this age of global warming; they trade carbon dioxide for oxygen, provide welcome shade, and bring nature into the city. Yet primordial forests globally have been reduced to just 30 percent of their original area, robbing the earth of these positive environmental impacts. After setting up his Melbourne studio in 2003, Dimopoulos immersed himself in the subject of trees in the environment. His research led him to the insight that “we are creatures who like certainty. We become disconcerted at our local environment changing. Yet it’s we as a species that have altered and destroyed much of the global environment.” Dimopoulos realized that public art would

be the perfect means to connect with those who felt the way he did and to reach out to others in order to make an impact. Two years later, the artist launched Sacred Grove—The Blue Forest, Afforestation Art Action in his hometown. For this temporary installation, Dimopoulos applied an environmentally safe, water-soluble pigment to the trunks and main branches of trees, preferring species with a smooth bark. The artist chose the ultramarine blue color because it does not naturally appear on trees: “Color is a powerful stimulant, a means of altering perception and defining space and time,” Dimopoulos says. “The fact that blue is a color that is not naturally identified with trees suggests to the viewer that something unusual, something out of the ordinary has happened. It becomes a magical transformation.” Since his initial project, Dimopoulos has re-created The Blue

ABOVE: Dimopoulos’s The Blue Trees at the City of London Festival 2013 was commissioned by Trees for Cities and sponsored by Bloomberg.



14 IN THE FIELD Trees on three continents in 10 cities, including Houston, London, Sacramento, and Vancouver. In each case, the project aims to introduce new audiences and stakeholders to the issue of deforestation around the world. Dimopoulos’s “magical transformation” was particularly evident in Houston, where two large stands of 600 trees—the largest number so far—became a measure of success for community engagement. More than 200 volunteers, including the mayor, participated in painting them. Many thousands enjoyed The Blue Trees of Houston, where millions of city trees had been lost to the 2011 drought and the aftermath of Hurricane Ike. Houstonians took to the project even more than anticipated, according to Jonathon Glus, president and CEO of the Houston Arts Alliance. Many residents appropriated the project for their own purposes, including yoga classes, picnics, and photo shoots. “The Blue Trees gave us numerous opportunities to engage the community in a meaningful social art action and the memory of The Blue Trees will stay with us for years to come,” Glus writes. With one of the world’s largest urban forests, Sacramento, where The Blue Trees was staged in 2012, has made a name for itself as the “City of Trees.” The local urban forestry department presently manages 115,000 trees on public land; one of the city’s electric utilities and a nonprofit partner annually add 13,000 newly planted

trees on private property, as part of an initiative to add shade and reduce energy demand. Against this backdrop, Dimopoulos’s project found willing participants, according to Shelly Willis, executive director of the Sacramento Metropolitan Arts Commission. “The artwork, installed in the center of the city, inspired tours, programs, and conversations with community leaders and others about the importance of trees,” she says. The expressive, lyrical quality of The Blue Trees catalyzes the work’s important message. Thus, the installation positively links artistic excellence with an environmental agenda. The Blue Trees stands in the tradition of Joseph Beuys and his 7000 Oaks project as well as Christo and Jeanne-Claude, who realized a tree project for the Fondation Beyeler in Switzerland in 1998. By now, Dimopoulos considers the work his “legacy project,” both from an artistic standpoint and as a catalyst for his goal to protect forests and grow more trees. More broadly, The Blue Trees stands as a potent example of how public art projects can serve as a powerful tool in support of a cause. DR. CHRISTINA LANZL is a multifaceted arts and culture professional who loves nature and the outdoors. To inquire about The Blue Trees please email Additional information on the artist’s website at

Photos courtesy Jaana Eleftheriou.

ABOVE: Detail of a pink flowers on The Blue Trees in Houston, Texas.




RIGHT: Photo by Adele Dimopoulos. ABOVE: Photo by David Brown Photography.


Chronology of The Blue Trees to date 2015 Vancouver Biennale, Canada 2013 City of London Festival, England 2013 Houston, Texas 2013 Norcross, Georgia 2013 Albuquerque, New Mexico 2012 Sacramento, California 2012 University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida 2012 Westlake Park and the Burke Gilman Regional Trail, Seattle, Washington 2011 Brick Bay Sculpture Trail, New Zealand 2011 Vancouver Biennale, Canada 2005 Sacred Grove—The Blue Forest, Afforestation Art Action, Melbourne, Australia

LEFT: Kids painting trees blue in Galveston, Texas. ABOVE: Close up view of The Blue Trees at the Vancouver Biennale installation in 2011.


The country’s first master’s degree in urban placemaking and management BY ANNA RENKEN


Pratt Institute’s School of Architecture has launched a new master of science program in Urban Placemaking and Management. David Burney (left), former commissioner of New York City’s Department of Design and Construction under Mayor Bloomberg, will lead the program. “There has always been, in planning and urban design, a focus on buildings, on structure, on systems—and public space was what was left over,” says Burney. That last-place positioning of public space even inspired an acronym, SLOAP, for “space left over after planning.” But design attention has turned toward this neglected space in recent years, and Pratt’s program encourages placemaking that begins with the creation of successful public spaces. With faculty from such diverse fields as architecture and the nonprofit world, the 40-credit program will prepare students to approach these spaces from a people perspective and in a variety of professional settings. Students will develop a foundation in four knowledge streams (design and infrastructure, economics, planning and policy, and management) and have their choice of three areas of focus (community-based design; parks, open space, and green infrastructure; and transportation and main-street management). Like other programs at Pratt, the placemaking program will reach beyond the classroom through internships and the design studio. “It’s like one of our regular planning studios, but it’s focused specifically on public space and civic engagement,” Burney says. Students will engage local stakeholders around the improvement of three public plazas, assessing the needs of each community and working through the process from design to programming to maintenance. While other architecture and urban design programs cover topics related to placemaking in individual courses, no other full program in the United States seems to have taken placemaking as its sole focus. According to Burney, “this is the first really straightforward placemaking program that looks at that whole process of everything from civic engagement to long-term programming and maintenance.” Course listings for 2015–2016 are available online at

ANNA RENKEN is an editorial intern at Public Art Review.

Photo courtesy David Burney.



Pratt Launches Placemaking Program




Glass Fusions Artists and manufacturers explore techniques, from 3D printing to solar cells BY JEN DOLEN

Photo courtesy Peters Studios.

WHEN IT COMES TO PUBLIC ART made from glass, new technology has led to new innovation. A variety of glass manufacturing studios and artists revealed a peek at some of the current techniques and expectations for artistic and architectural glass. RENEWABLE ENERGY

the new glass able to generate renewable energy. Hall’s images document the history of Lake Ontario through 360 photographs permanently embedded in the BIPV glass. The panes generate electricity during the day and are illuminated after dark by programmable, color-changing LEDs. Often adopted in new European building designs, BIPV technology is not yet commonplace worldwide.

Collaborating with artist Sarah Hall, Peters Studios—formally known as Glasmalerei Peters Studios—updated three stories of glass surrounding three sides of the Enwave Theatre in Toronto, Ontario, using a blend of technology, environmental sustainability, and creativity. Building-integrated photovoltaic (BIPV) technology embeds solar cells between two glass panes, making a section of

ABOVE: Peters Studio used BIPV glass technology that generates renewable energy, as well as airbrushed, fired enamels sandblasted onto float glass as visually creative elements in Toronto’s Enwave Theater.



18 IN THE FIELD Ray King’s Point of View (2014) at the Ministry of Culture, New Taipei City, Taiwan, is a suspended dichroic glass and stainless steel sculpture. Visible from three levels, it consists of nearly 1,400 laminated color-changing glass elements that react to and reflect sunlight.

Photo courtesy Ray King.


A glass artist who specializes in “reflecting and projecting light and color into shaded areas,” Ray King has long worked with “exotic holographic laminates and dichroic coatings”—coatings that display two different colors depending on the light—in 3D computer software. Newer versions allow him “to see and work with the reflective qualities of glass and even the projected light from dichroic film,” resulting in more realistic presentations of his designs as well as the ability to cut, laminate, drill, and polish his works in his own studio. King, of Ray King Studio, explains that key innovations include new coatings, light-diffracting Mylar films and other interlayering materials, and lamination processes that meet safety glass ratings. In recent years, King has noted that his clients, including public art administrators, developers, and art selection committees, are “less afraid of glass.”




Wind Travel, InPlainSight’s latest experiment, uses bundled blocks of LED backlit glass tubes, like oversized fiber optics. These blocks, or “cells,” can be stacked or laid end to end to display large-scale, pixellated videos. The project features wind blown imagery–such as leaves–mixed with live captures of viewers in front of the work.

Photo courtesy IPS Art.


Digital technology is completely integrated into the studio practice of artists Amy Baur and Brian Boldon of InPlainSight Art (IPS). Since 2004, the duo has concentrated on a process called digital glaze printing, which involves permanently fusing ceramic pigments onto glass with a laser printer. IPS also uses eight-color inkjet direct-to-glass printing methods, experimenting with opacity. Baur explains that their work is inspired by the fact that “modeling, data visualization, crowd-sourcing, and mapping are changing the way artists work through their ideas.” Recently, IPS built a 3D printer that prints objects out of ceramics and glass.



20 IN THE FIELD Gordon Heuther was asked to design a memorial as the focal point of the 9/11 Memorial Garden (2013) in Napa, California. Made of salvaged beams from the Twin Towers, along with glass laminated with a list of victims’ names, it is meant to inspire viewers to continue expressing courage, caring, and compassion.


Photo by Infinity Visuals.

Over three decades of work, Gordon Huether has seen methods evolve from traditional techniques like leaded, stained, and etched glass into high-tech adhesives, fiber optics, photo transfer, and dichroic and fused glass. He says these evolving techniques result in new capabilities like the creation of the larger individual panels that he often incorporates into projects. In 2013, Gordon Huether Studio completed Napa 9/11 Memorial for the city of Napa, California, using salvaged steel beams from the World Trade Center and glass laminated with a printed vinyl inner layer listing the names of victims.



ABOVE: Michael C. Mayer (right) and artist Vik Muniz (left) in the Franz Mayer of Munich studio discussing a project that will be installed in New York’s subway at 72nd Street and 2nd Avenue. RIGHT: Mayer oversees work on Muniz’s project. According to Mayer, when you work with artists who don’t traditionally work with glass, “you push new doors open. There’s always something happening and that’s beautiful.”


Franz Mayer of Munich’s hands-on studio of artisans combines multiple techniques for both small- and large-scale projects. Erica Behrens, director of the New York office, has noticed a shift in recent years as selection panels broaden their search beyond known glass artists to include those with a variety of specialties. In collaboration, they can create unexpected projects. Says Behrens, “The more that I work with artists, the more exciting it is to see new kinds of work coming to life in glass that no one would ever expect. It’s all completely different.” When the studio worked with Mel Bochner, who paints subtractively by pulling paint away from the surface with his fingers, Mayer put emulsion on the glass and had the artist pull it off with his fingers. “We couldn’t translate it without his own hand,” says Behrens.

JEN DOLEN is a photographer and writer, and an editorial assistant for Public Art Review.


ABOVE LEFT: Photo by Sammy Hart, courtesy Franz Mayer of Munich. ABOVE RIGHT: Image courtesy Franz Mayer of Munich.





Remembering with Beads A traveling memorial pays tribute to missing and murdered indigenous women BY JESSICA FIALA HOW CAN A MEMORIAL reflect the presence of grief and the absence caused by lost lives? How can it bring tragedy to light without reducing lives to stories of violence? Walking With Our Sisters (WWOS) attempts this balance as both a space for remembrance and a traveling memorial that draws attention to the staggering number of missing and murdered indigenous women in Canada. The project began in 2012 when artist Christi Belcourt issued a call for handcrafted vamps—the decorative tops of moccasins—to represent the unfinished lives of women. The installation now comprises 1,928 pairs, including 118 for children who never returned from residential schools. The entire project is volunteer-run, donation-funded, and crowd-sourced, with vamps created by individuals and beading groups from across Canada as well as the U.S. and Europe. Each pair is a unique artwork, and all are laid at floor-level, with a pathway for visitors to walk alongside these echoes of absent women—sisters, mothers, and friends. From the outset, the national organizing collective sought the guidance of elders in making each installation akin to a lodge where ceremony holds a central place throughout the process. The

memorial will travel to 32 venues before closing in 2019. In each community it visits, a dedicated local committee is responsible for ensuring that local indigenous traditions and protocols are followed. Each community also organizes conversations, educational activities, and events—all contributing to the long-term grassroots awareness efforts that have gained international attention. In a May 2014 report, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police estimated 1,181 missing or murdered indigenous women between 1980 and 2012, adding fodder to political debates around the issue. As more politicians begin to take note, WWOS lead coordinator, media contact, and keeper support Tanya Kappo emphasizes the overarching relevance of the memorial and the need to leave titles and status at the door, “to pay honor to these women, to restore to them that humanity in death that they were denied in their lifetime.”

JESSICA FIALA is a company member of Ragamala Dance and a program and project associate at Forecast Public Art.




OPPOSITE: Photo courtesy Alberto Cortes. TOP: Photo courtesy Melody McKiver. BOTTOM: Photo courtesy Walking With Our Sisters.


OPPOSITE: Walking With Our Sisters installed in Wanuskewin, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, in the fall of 2014. ABOVE TOP: The traveling project creates a space for remembering 1,928 missing or murdered women—a number that, unfortunately, continues to rise. ABOVE BOTTOM: Each pair of vamps (the decorative tops of mocassins) represents the unfinished life of an indigenous woman in Canada.




Johan Ferner Ström’s Puckelboll is an artist-designed playing field BY SHAUNA DEE WHEN ARTIST JOHAN STRÖM’S first Puckelboll installation was constructed in Malmö, Sweden, in 2009, it didn’t take long before it was in use. The construction workers couldn’t resist and right away began to kick around a soccer ball. “One of the aims with the Puckelboll field is to serve as a catalyst for dialogue and interaction between people,” says Ström. And it works. Ström’s playful spaces in parks (the second was completed in Stockholm in 2014) truly offer something for all ages and levels of athletic ability. Additionally, when not in use, they offer an aesthetic experience in a public space. So what exactly is Puckelboll? It is a trigger for creativity meant to inspire new game ideas. It is art and play in symbiosis. It’s fun to run around on the undulating surface and climb on surreal goal posts, but the installation also has an overarching message that may not be immediately apparent: Life is not a level playing field. Ström explains that Puckelboll is “a comment about injustice, inequality, imagination, and hope, and that the ball never really bounces the way you want it to in life.”

ABOVE: The second Puckelboll field was installed in Stockholm, Sweden BELOW: The first Puckelboll installation in Malmö, Sweden. In addition to offering an aesthetic experience, it is meant to inspire people to invent new games.

Puckelboll has layers of meaning, but it is not only a social commentary. Puckelboll provides a practical (and whimsical) venue that communities often lack, particularly in public spaces, where young people can fulfill their individual needs and desires to create and experience. The unusual characteristics of the Puckelboll field, including its unlevel surface, level the field for all who participate. SHAUNA DEE is the information and communications coordinator at Forecast Public Art.

Photos by David Puig Serinyà/Glósóli Ateljé.








Room for Everyone A new public art administrator’s path to reaching underrepresented artists


BY JOAN VORDERBRUGGEN I spent 17 years as a nurse before transitioning to my career as a public art administrator. In 2012, I began volunteering in my neighborhood to develop and implement a project that paired artwork with vacant commercial storefronts. I quickly found that my desire to connect artists with opportunities to beautify blighted pockets of my neighborhood was all consuming. Interestingly, this work engaged the healer in me, as I identified ailing parts of the street and challenged talented people to make it better with the power of creativity. I maintained my positions as nurse and public art administrator for about a year and a half, at which point the largest performing arts nonprofit in the state of Minnesota contacted me. I was contracted to bring my skills to a vacant property mired in controversy on one full city block in downtown Minneapolis. The result of that work was the pilot for Made Here, a project of Hennepin Theatre Trust. It temporary fills empty storefronts or commercial spaces with the work of Minnesota artists and locally based artisan companies. In hindsight, it was the perfect storm for me professionally. The first run of Made Here was well received, and I was hired by the Trust as the cultural district arts coordinator. My role is part of the Trust’s work to create a walkable “Cultural District” of arts, culture and economic activity. Given that, I quit nursing and braced myself for this transition, which I’d so desperately wanted and for which I’d worked my head off. Though similar, this project differed in many ways from the one I had created in my own, smaller neighborhood. For one thing, it had a budget ten times the size, so I now had the capacity to pay

artists. This fact weighed on me as I assessed the demographic of downtown. One sentence kept circling my mind: This work must reflect the community it serves. But how could one person hope to accomplish that? It was clear that there was no way I could single-handedly implement this vision. I would have to call upon the ingenuity of others to help. I convened a panel of 17 artists and arts professionals from diverse backgrounds to advise, curate, and assist with outreach. Among other notable leaders in the field, I enlisted well-known talent from communities of color, a transgender luminary, and an established disabled artist. These artists were both generous and polished. They brought a large built-in audience, which in turn helped make visible our more emerging or unknown artists. They required little assistance—their biographies were compelling, head shots flawless, and work of an outstanding quality. They extended an authentic invitation to their networks to participate, and their outreach paid dividends in the robust diversity of the artist applicants in our open calls. We set ambitious diversity standards for our first year to include 35 percent artists from communities of color, which we exceeded by 5 percent. Additionally, the panel established a simple and streamlined online application process that didn’t call for a resume or exhibition history. All that was required to be eligible was that you lived in Minnesota. The proposal requested a brief written explanation from each hopeful, a few images of past or current work, and a simple sketch of what the artist envisioned for a window display. Our


Photos by Steven Lang.

wife and children, on Saturday mornings in order to offer a community meal and a place to belong. After attending “Breakfast Club” several times and witnessing Kirk’s ability to creatively engage his neighbors, I offered him the opportunity to mentor teenagers in co-creating a visual display in a downtown window. I had recently received funding from a corporate sponsor to launch this leg of the project, and I gave him full creative freedom to do what he wished, only offering to help when needed. Kirk worked with his teenage daughters to produce a provocative slideshow featuring poetry embedded over contrasting images of public protests and politicians, followed by images of kids playing and portraits of family. He allowed the kids to doodle with paint pens all over the unutilized glass, and taped paper outlines of their bodies to resemble a crime scene within the display. The final touch was two toy dolls suspended in air, framing the projections. The result was a raw and powerful display for thousands of people to see every day. With Made Here, we hope to open the door to more artists who have a wide variety of perspectives and to give them the freedom and resources to experiment, in the hope that these vital public connections can continue to thrive.

JOAN VORDERBRUGGEN is an artist, organizer, and visionary source of creative urban revitalization that connects and celebrates diverse cultural landscapes. She currently serves as the cultural district arts coordinator for Hennepin Theatre Trust, activating the downtown Minneapolis Cultural District with the project Made Here.


online platform allowed the panel to curate blind—a practice that led us to make decisions objectively while creating an opportunity as accessible as possible to the broader community. This simplified process yielded some surprising results. One instance stood out in particular: During the first round of installations, I was assisting an artist with an incredibly imaginative paper display. It included large-scale backlit cutouts, as well as numerous shadow boxes with intricate 3D work using anatomical illustrations taken from historic books. It was one of the strongest showcases of the entire run, with an incredible use of space and light paired with a fascinating concept about the sixth sense that allows our bodies to understand their position in space. As we were holding the sheets up to tape them to the glass, the artist looked at me and said, “This is really fun—I’ve never exhibited visual art before.” My jaw hit the floor. Not only was this artist experiencing a first attempt at visual and public art, but the work was of a quality not often seen. This incident has not been an isolated one. Since then, stories much like this continue to surface, proving that accessibility in no way impedes quality. With each project rotation, I find myself in constant examination of my process; I embrace that there is only more to learn. One such lesson was that my selection process for including prominent artists from communities of color within peer organizations was not true to my initial mission—and even bordered on tokenism. I realized that instead, I needed to spend time out of my office to focus on building relationships with artists in underrepresented communities. One such relationship grew when a panelist introduced me to an artist/organizer from North Minneapolis, a predominantly black neighborhood where nearly 40 percent of the people live below the poverty line. Kirk Washington Jr. was working independently of any institution. For years, he had simply opened up his home, with his


OPPOSITE: Made Here artist Sreekishen Nair celebrates the beauty of biological forms such as flower stamens, micro-crustaceans and insects in Sprites (2014). ABOVE: In Proprius (2014), Hannah Quinn Rivenburgh explores proprioception, inviting conscious awareness of bodies in space.




Artist-designed billboards across the southern United States explore the concept of manifest destiny BY ANNA RENKEN The United States’ westward expansion during the nineteenth century was justified by the concept of “manifest destiny”—the notion that the virtue and taming influence of American settlers preordained the settling of the West. The Manifest Destiny Billboard Project explores this theme through a series of billboards along Interstate 10 through Florida, Alabama, Louisiana, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and California. Launched in fall 2013, the project will conclude later this spring in Los Angeles. Ten artists have each contributed a “chapter” to the project, for a total of about 100 billboards that mesh with the landscape and explore the conflicting ideas surrounding manifest destiny in a variety of ways, incorporating new and existing text, photography, and other works of art. The artists, mainly based in Los Angeles, with two from New York and one from Berlin, include John Baldessari, Sanford Biggers, Matthew Brannon, Zoe Crosher, Eve Fowler, Shana Lutker, Jeremy Shaw, Daniel R. Small, Bobbi Woods, and Mario Ybarra Jr. Some produced different designs for each billboard, while others, like John Baldessari, adopted the common advertising strategy of repeating the same image on multiple billboards. Baldessari’s contribution

was installed around San Antonio, Texas, in September–October 2014. According to the press release, the diptych, titled Love and Work, “conveys the ultimate dichotomy of Manifest Destiny and the American Dream.” On the project website, a map for each chapter shows the locations of billboards around the city and displays their removal date. Public programming and social media dialogue (#LANDMD) have accompanied the works. The Manifest Destiny Billboard Project was presented by the Los Angeles Nomadic Division (LAND), a nonprofit founded in 2009 and committed to curating site-specific public art installations. It was conceived by Los Angeles-based artist Zoe Crosher, and curated by Crosher in collaboration with LAND’s director and curator, Shamim M. Momin. ANNA RENKEN is an editorial assistant at Public Art Review.

John Baldessari’s chapter of The Manifest Destiny Billboard Project, called Love and Work (2014), employed the advertising trope of repetition: Each of Baldessari’s 10 billboards in San Antonio, Texas, contained the same image.

Photo courtesy Jennifer Siu-Rivera.


History on a Billboard


Three of 12 cities could win up to $1 million each In March, Bloomberg Philanthropies announced the 12 finalists in their new Public Art Challenge. The foundation asked cities and artists to work together to propose short-term public artworks that “celebrate creativity, enhance urban identity, encourage public-private partnerships, and drive economic development,” according to the Public Art Challenge website. Last December, 237 cities applied. Following the submission of full proposals, at least 3 of the 12 finalist cities will be selected as winners in May—just after this issue of Public Art Review goes to press—and their projects will be fleshed out within the next two years. The geographically and conceptually diverse finalists are:

—Anna Renken

The Winners! Learn more about the winners, announced just after we went to press, on


• Albany, Schenectady, and Troy, New York: Breathing Lights.
Illuminating the need for community revitalization. • Albuquerque, New Mexico: Albuquerque’s Orphan Signs of Route 66 and Beyond. Engaging youth and local artists to enliven barren spaces. • Atlanta, Georgia: Freedom Now.
Highlighting Atlanta’s civil rights legacy. • Boston, Massachusetts: The Sapphire Necklace.
Using culture to enliven the harbor. • Chicago, Illinois: Make Way for Art: Activating Chicago’s Public Plazas. Revitalizing public space through art. • Des Moines, Iowa: Listening to Water.
Calling attention to local river ecology and urban water trails. • Gary, Indiana: ArtHouse: A Social Kitchen. Connecting food and art to develop a cultural district. • Grand Rapids, Michigan: SiTE:LAB—Rumsey Street Project.
Revitalizing vacant structures for art performances. • Hartford, Connecticut: Subject Matter.
Honoring and inspiring civically engaged citizens. • Los Angeles, California: CURRENT: LA River.
Call to action on water conservation through art. • Maplewood, Minnesota: Kid City.
Empowering the youth community. • Spartanburg, South Carolina: Seeing Spartanburg in a New Light.
 Addressing crime through creative partnerships.


Bloomberg Public Art Challenge Finalists Announced


Public art, language, and accountability BY WILLIAM CLEVELAND


Twenty-four years ago I wrote an article to argue that the arts community in the United States was a co-conspirator in its own marginalization. I was referring to the need for arts sector advocates to examine and question the often-disaffecting language we use to communicate about our work. I would like to say that we’ve come a long way since then and that this problem is no longer a concern. Unfortunately, I think it still is—particularly when it comes to the way we communicate about public art. There was a time, not long ago, when public art meant monuments, statues, and sculptures. The good news is that we’ve moved beyond the narrow constraints that used to tyrannize the field—way beyond. A quick review of the articles in Public Art Review issues in recent years provides an interesting picture of the evolving public art landscape. Topics have included spirituality, parks and rec, foodways, placemaking, healing, the environment, the artist as community leader, and the dissolving boundaries between live performance and figurative sculpture. From my perspective, this expanded territory is thrilling evidence of an increasingly adventurous and healthy cultural ecosystem. The downside, though (and you knew there would be one), is the unfortunate proliferation of terminology that has emerged to describe and, in some cases, colonize these new territories. I should probably acknowledge that my reflections here are skewed by 30 years of working as a writer/musician, educator, and researcher in service to what used to be called community arts, and which I see as having much in common with significant aspects of the current public arts field. So why am I so focused on language? As an arts educator and researcher, I feel I should be familiar with the vocabulary being used to define cultural practice within and outside of the United States. I also think it’s important to examine how this language reflects the social, political, and economic forces that are influencing public attitudes toward the cultural community, as well as the field’s understanding of itself in that context. With this in mind, I’ve made a point of collecting and “naming the names,” so to speak, that are showing up in our ever-mutating dictionary of American culture. Here is a current batch of labels that I see as positioned in or near the neighborhoods of cultural practice occupied by public art: Community arts, public art, creative placemaking, community cultural development, socially engaged practice, arts-based community development, cultural animation, art for social change, cultural

community building, cultural mediation. This proliferation of terms can be seen as a symptom of a good thing—namely, an increased interest and investment in cultural work that in some way engages the public sphere. I also see it as an indicator that a realm of contemporary artistic practice that, not too long ago, was considered obscure and second rate has now been embraced, validated, elevated, romanticized (and in some cases sanitized) in a wide variety of ways by people and institutions representing a diversity of perspectives and interests. So, bravo! Sort of. From my perspective, though, this terminology is also an expression of the worst kind of inside game—a parochial brand of discourse that arts folks fall prey to when they’re trying to position themselves as the next big thing, and they think nobody outside the cultural cloister is listening. Haven’t we learned the hard way that, in our media-saturated world, there is no longer such a thing as a private conversation—and, surprise, surprise, that the way we communicate about art is often more impactful than the art itself? There are of course many other terms that could be included in this brief glossary. As a teacher, I’m trying to provide my students (and myself) with tools for navigating these increasingly muddied waters. I think anybody working in this salad mix of a field needs to know what’s in the mix and be aware that Boston lettuce to one person is Bibb to another. But while these small differences can be helpful to those inside the work, for society at large they only serve to obfuscate and confuse. I have a particularly low tolerance for a sobriquet like socially engaged practice and its little brother social practice because, absent any reference to the arts, such terms are indecipherable for people who live outside of the monastery grounds. They obscure rather than clarify. Creative placemaking, the current favorite, is another case in point. What started out as a fairly narrowly defined realm of cultural practice with specific economic and social objectives has morphed into a foggy catchall that many artists and funders seem to be chasing with their hands out and their eyes closed. Posing questions about this vague nomenclature is particularly relevant when it comes to who is paying the bills. How does the proliferation and, in some cases, misuse of language affect the perception of, and investment in, the work? The resources for these projects inevitably get attached to these terms, and the institutions supporting the work offer ambiguous (and sometimes competing) definitions of terms like creative placemaking. In our work at the Center for the Study of Art & Community (CSA&C) we’ve found that this lack of clarity often migrates to the work and negatively impacts the communities involved. What’s most troubling about this semantic haze are the moral and ethical questions that emerge. Terms like social practice, placemaking, or community cultural development all imply community

Photo courtesy William Cleveland.



Bravo, Sort Of


make a positive community impact, then the definitions of success are much more complicated, and the folks whose lives are affected need to be in the mix. We have found that the best way to give good intentions a chance of becoming truly good work is for collaborators to maintain a rigorous commitment to three simple things: clarity of intention, accurate documentation and sharing of outcomes, and ultimate accountability to the community. Adhering to these touchstones has helped align words and deeds in a way that both respects and affirms the values and aspirations of all involved. WILLIAM CLEVELAND is an author, musician, and director of the Center for the Study of Art & Community. He lives on Bainbridge Island in Washington.


involvement of some kind. Yet I see very little attention paid to what exactly that means. How are the people who will bear the consequences of a project’s success or failure going to be engaged? If some public benefit is part of the deal, is there any accountability built in? And when the curtain closes, who will be there to either sustain the good work—or pick up the pieces? In our work at the CSA&C we take these questions very seriously. We also understand that the fuzzy communication that prompts them is not going to dissipate any time soon. So we try to focus on what is actually happening in the communities involved instead of the words used to describe it. I certainly don’t begrudge artists following their muse. And if their only objective is to make a splash in the art world, the fickle filter of critics, markets, and public taste will decide. But when an artist or arts organization is also looking to


Terms like social practice, placemaking, or community cultural development all imply community involvement of some kind. Yet I see very little attention paid to what exactly that means.

Photo courtesy Stinkfish.

This work by Columbian artist Stinkfish was part of the Djerbahood project on the island of Djerba in Tunisia.

BY AZIZA HARMEL It is four years since street vendor Mohamed Bouazizi burned himself alive and activated the extraordinary chain of events that became the Tunisian uprising. The uprising deposed the dominant state narrative only to reveal the flux of competing cultural, economic, and political paradigms currently affecting Tunisia. It is in this context of post-revolutionary flux that Mehdi Ben Cheikh, the founder of the Galerie Itinerrance, has organized the ambitious and daring street art project called Djerbahood. The project, sited in the village of Erriadh, on the island of Djerba, brings together more than 100 street artists from more than 30 countries. Organizing such a large-scale international project in a small local village was no small feat, but with the authorization of both the Tunisian Ministry of Tourism and the mayor of Djerba, and in dialog with the inhabitants of the village, Ben Cheikh has successfully drawn together the interests of the state and local public with the interests of the cultural community that this project activates. The small island town of Erriadh, off the southern coast of Tunisia, is a tranquil place where Jews, Muslims, and Christians have lived in peace, side by side, for centuries. Notable is its distinctive and evocative architecture: The houches, traditional Djerbian houses, with their high walls, arches, and domes, when viewed from outside, look like miniature fortresses or palaces. The character of these stunning domiciles, immediately reminiscent of times long passed, is somehow bound to the modern, appearing both historic and contemporary. Although Djerba has long been a popular tourist destination, Erriadh has always remained off the vacationists’ radar. Today, thanks to Djerbahood, it has established its place on the map. It is not by accident that this project came to be hosted in this village. The high white walls of the houches present themselves as ideal canvases to the street artists, while challenging them to negotiate their work within the frame that such an unusual urban setting provides. Diverse artists such as eL Seed and Phlegm, among many others, have risen to this challenge, visually accommodating their artistic productions to the traditional aspects of the village, and overcoming the considerable task of adding charm to a place already so beautiful. But public art should not be purely embellishment; it cannot be reduced to its conversation with architecture or simply instrumentalized as artistic urban outfitting. Public art should be in the public interest. Djerbahood, by drawing together diverse communities, cultures, practices, and forms in the pursuit of common interests, succeeds in forging such a moment. Where it falls short, however, is in the content of the artworks. The works, confined within their aesthetic, lack a criticality which could have considerably developed the social dimension of the event. That said, in the political and cultural context of Tunisia, the gesture of turning the village of Erriadh into an open-air contemporary art museum can be seen as a progressive social act, advocating freedom of expression and multiplicity. Perhaps more importantly,


Art in the Arab Street

An innovative and ambitious festival brings street artists to Tunisia


ARTISTS, CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT: Fintan Magee (Australia); Jasm1 (Switzerland); C215 (France); Jace (Reunion Island); Stinkfish (Columbia); Swoon (U.S.).

CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT (all photos except Stinkfish are ©Aline Deschamps, Galerie Itinerrance). Photos courtesy Fintan Magee, Jasm1, C215, Jace, Stinkfish, Swoon.



CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT (all photos except Brusk & Inkman are ©Aline Deschamps, Galerie Itinerrance). Photos courtesy Deyaa, Brusk & Inkman, Sunra, Ethos, and Mário Belém.


37 Mehdi Ben Cheikh has offered a valuable gift to the habitants of Djerba: the revitalization of its tourist economy. Beyond enhancing the openness, safety, and beauty of the island, Djerbahood has brought the attention of the world to its shores at a time when the tourist economy had evaporated. It is plain to see that the Tunisian revolt of 2011 has scared the tourists away. Tourism, being among the most important and lucrative sectors of the Tunisian economy, and one of the main sources of income in places like Djerba, is in dire need of resurrection. Since former president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali fled the country in January 2011, Tunisian street art has blossomed. The development of this urban phenomenon has offered a new, though still rather limited, space for expression: a space for verbal expression, a communal place to raise voices together, and now a space for the younger generations to express themselves artistically. Street art is still new to our culture, yet many young Tunisians identify with this contemporary form of art, not purely for its rebellious content, but also as a reaction to all those years of silence. Djerbahood is a crucial project for the development of this form of art in Tunisia. Tunisian street art not only encourages youth to sharpen their awareness of their surroundings both aesthetically and politically, but makes concrete and explicit the power of the public in the destiny of the state.

ARTISTS, CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT: Deyaa (Saudi Arabia); Brusk & Inkman (France/Tunisia); Sunra (France); Ethos (Brazil); Mário Belém (Portugal).

AZIZA HARMEL is a Tunisian young artist living and working between Berlin and Tunis. She is the founder of the Ayna Project, which is a research platform on the position of the intellectual today.

PUBLIC ART REVIEW | VOL. 26 | NO. 2 | ISSUE 52 | PUBLICARTREVIEW.ORG Using a flourescent bulb and long-exposure photography, Karim Jabbari wrote the name Saber in light. Saber was a protestor who died on this spot in Kasserine, Tunisia’s Martyr Square during Arab Spring in 2011.

Photo courtesy the artist.


BY LEON TAN, PH.D. Karim Jabbari witnessed the unfolding of Arab Spring in his native Tunisia from his adopted Canada. More protestors—including Jabbari’s uncle—were shot and killed by government forces in his hometown of Kasserine than in any other Tunisian city. In an effort to come to terms with his own anger and feelings of helplessness, the desires of the people, and the violence, he turned to art. One year after the uprising, in 2012, he went to Kasserine to create Light in the Revolution Night, a multipart art project intended to honor those who had died and the spirit of the revolution. For the light calligraphy component of the project, Jabbari stood on the very places people were shot dead in Martyr Square and “painted” their names in light. To create these works, Jabbari uses a handheld fluorescent bulb to gracefully draw in the air at night. Long-exposure photography condenses the moving light into an image, in which Jabbari’s body is nearly invisible. But as seemingly still and peaceful as the resulting photograph looks, the effort was difficult. Jabbari worked at night when the square was under tight surveillance. During the daytime, the artist worked on the other component of his calligraffiti project, a more conventional street art piece in the square with the message “Hope was born here.” This proved to be extremely popular among the area’s youth, many of them joining the artist to paint the wall. In addition to memorializing the Tunisian Arab Spring, Jabbari sought to connect young people more closely with Arabic culture and language. “The Light in the Revolution Night project is a human experience and a way to highlight through a pubic art project the bravery of many young men who believed they [could] take their destiny in hand and change things for the better,” Jabbari says. “The project made me feel like I played a role in the revolution. I truly felt I added a touch of hope to many unemployed and poor youth of that city.” The project gave rise to several other initiatives by Jabbari, including Towards the Light, the longest graffiti wall in Tunisia, and Streets, a hip-hop art festival held in Jabbari’s hometown of Kasserine in 2013. Streets brought rappers, break-dancers, and visual artists together in Tunisia to perform and conduct workshops for Kasserine youth. According to the Al Jazeera news report, “Those youth who participated [in the workshops] said they will keep practicing their art, whether breakdancing, rap, DJing, or graffiti.” LEON TAN, PH.D., is an arts and culture critic, educator, and psychotherapist. A member of the International Association of Art Critics, Tan writes on contemporary art and culture, teaches art history and theory, and maintains a small clinical practice.

This project is a semifinalist for the 2nd International Award for Public Art. Learn about other finalists and semifinalists on page 51.


Remembering in Light

Tunisian artist Karim Jabbari honors those who died in Arab Spring


PUBLIC ART REVIEW | VOL. 26 | NO. 2 | ISSUE 52 | PUBLICARTREVIEW.ORG TOP: Karim Jabbari’s work of light calligraphy saying “Hope was born here” in front of the wall where he painted the same words. BOTTOM LEFT: Youth in Kasserine, Tunisia, in front of Jabbari’s “Hope was born here” wall. BOTTOM RIGHT: Karim Jabbari painting “Hope was born here” in 2012 in the city of Kasserine, which had the most casualties in Tunisia during Arab Spring.

Photos courtesy the artist.





Janet Echelman is an artist who defies categorization. Her work is at the intersection of fine art, ancient craft, cutting-edge technology, architecture, and public art. Starting out, she was rejected by every art school she applied to. Today she has received a Guggenheim Fellowship, the Aspen Institute’s Henry Crown Fellowship, and a Harvard University Loeb Fellowship. O, The Oprah Magazine ranked Echelman’s art as number one on its list of “50 Things That Make You Say Wow.” Her 2011 TED talk, “Taking Imagination Seriously,” has had well over a million views and has been translated into 34 languages, and she was invited back to speak on the TED main stage in 2014 for its all-star 30th anniversary conference. This interview is an edited transcription of a September 19, 2014, dialogue that was part of Moore College of Art and Design’s Studio Conversations series sponsored by the Graduate Studies “Social and Studio Practices” area.

Daniel Tucker: As I understand it, you were a painter until you went to this residency and your paints didn’t arrive and you had to improvise a new solution. Talk about your life as a painter and your uses of abstraction. Janet Echelman: I was a painter for ten years, and I was engaged and passionate about it. I always wanted to pull the work to a place where someone else would complete its meaning. It had to engage you enough to draw you in and make you think about it. It was very much about gestural lines and drawing, which was a mark of the fluid movement of my arms. I was documenting the energy of that movement. I remember painter John Snyder saying that your first painting has your entire career in it. My early drawings and paintings were about


Photo by Todd Erickson, courtesy Studio Echelman.


Artist Janet Echelman began the first ten years of her career as a painter. She now collaborates with a wide range of experts to design, construct, and install “net sculpture environments” and other artworks in cities worldwide.

BOTTOM: Photo by Janet Echelman. TOP: Photo by Ema Peter, courtesy Studio Echelman.



line, language, and movement. What was exciting to me when I first discovered sculpting was that those lines became physical.

You have a degree in counseling psychology, went to grad school at Bard and undergrad at Harvard. Talk a little bit about your education and how the different threads have influenced your work. Well, one wouldn’t typically set out to educate oneself the way I have. I followed my interests through the world. One professor who had an influence on me that I didn’t realize at the time was Stephen J. Gould, who taught a course called “The History of Earth and Life.” He was a natural scientist, a polymath, and a great luminary at Harvard. He was passionate about the arts and played music, connecting all these different fields. For an assignment we had to choose a period from the history of Earth. I chose the pre-Cambrian era and studied its life-forms. What drew me was that these life-forms had not developed complexity to the point of having organs. They were single cells that were spired and extruded—basically planes that hadn’t developed multi-cell thickness. But from that hint of life, different life-forms evolved. Then they all disappeared, so it was like this failed design experiment in life. I was intrigued by this amazing design generation that disappeared. Something was so compelling about that. My early sculptures feel connected to that. They all explored form through surface and have a kind of bilateral or radial symmetry like different design approaches to the design of life. That was my approach to making sculpture. It makes me think about scale. What is that journey like when you go from the size of a room to the size of a building? Just hearing you ask the question reminds me of how it felt, which makes my heart sink. I didn’t have those tools in my toolbox. I knew what I wanted, but I lacked understanding of the materials and technology needed to build at a monumental scale. I think the skill set I relied on was from my time working as a reporter. I know how to venture out and ask questions. If the first person I talked to didn’t have an answer, maybe they could send me to three other people who might. It has been a gradual process. My first artworks were very temporary and low-tech. As they’ve grown, I’ve had to reach out and collaborate with engineers, architects, landscape architects,

Can you talk about the range of things that might go into your research? The joke is, “How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.” My research is my way of doing that. I think of a commission as a kind of identity search, so I usually start by interviewing people. How do they think about themselves? What do they want to project to the outside world? In talking to people, I learn who they are and what their culture is. One of my recent challenges has been a beautiful experience. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation asked me to give visual form to their mission, which is actually quite daunting. Here is an organization that is tackling the world’s most intractable problems, like poverty and malaria. Through interviewing a broad range of people there, I came to understand what was important to express with my art. Here’s another example. The Biennial of the Americas asked me to give form to the interconnectedness of the 35 nations that make up the Western Hemisphere. What is the representation of interconnectedness of nations? It seemed overwhelming. I didn’t know what to do. I was at the Guggenheim visiting the Tino Sehgal installation and the guide/performer leading me through asked me if I knew that the recent Chile earthquake changed the length of the day. I said I didn’t, and immediately started reading about it—how this earthquake had shortened the length of the earth’s day by slightly redistributing the earth’s mass, and a NASA scientist was able to measure it for the first time. We knew that 1.26 microseconds had been shortened off the earth’s rotation. I always thought time was one of the only things you could count on, like death and taxes. That realization was like, “Okay, this

OPPOSITE TOP: Skies Painted with Unnumbered Sparks (2014), installed at the TED Conference’s 30th anniversary in Vancouver, British Columbia, is Echelman’s largest, most interactive sculpture installation to date. It spanned 745 feet and was 24 stories high. Echelman’s studio collaborated with Aaron Koblin, director of Google’s Creative Lab, to develop its interactive lighting. Spectators’ physical gestures with their mobile devices caused beams of light to project across the piece in real time. OPPOSITE BOTTOM: Echelman’s 1.26 has been installed in various locations, including this 2010 installation at the Biennial of the Americas in Denver, Colorado. The work, which spans 80’ x 60’ x 30’ feet, was suspended from the roof of the Denver Art Museum. The work’s title refers to the 2010 Chile earthquake that shifted the earth’s core, thereby shortening the earth’s rotation and changing the length of the day by 1.26 microseconds.


It was a radical shift: Before, my art was a frozen moment of energy, and now it has potential for ongoing movement of energy. The work is always interacting, not only with us, but with the changing patterns of sun, wind, and the shadow-drawings it creates as you stand below it. The ways those shadow lines move on the ground are a kind of living drawing. They are in constant flux—a living, breathing art that’s animated by forces beyond us.

computer scientists, and fabricators. The teamwork is one of the things I enjoy most. I make sketches and send them to my engineer, and he calls back and says, “Well, you’ve drawn this, but really you need to simultaneously pull up and down like a saddle,” and then I redesign it. I’m always learning. Not every engineer would want to work on these projects, or have the patience. My lead engineer studied sculpture at Yale before he studied engineering —it’s a great fusion.


is interconnectedness” An event that happened in Chile has affected my day. That was enough. The title of the work was 1.26. PUBLIC ART REVIEW | VOL. 26 | NO. 2 | ISSUE 52 | PUBLICARTREVIEW.ORG


Walk us through the evolution that led you to work at a bigger scale and with lighter materials. In evolutionary biology they talk about punctuated equilibrium. We don’t gradually evolve, but instead go through little leaps. I think that’s true of my artwork. I make a little discovery—from painting these lines and gestures I discover the ancient technology of fishing nets—and suddenly make a leap. I was working with net sculptures and making steel armatures to hold them up, and then I got to a place where somehow that didn’t work anymore, because in my sculpture 1.26, the forms were very complex and the structural capability of steel wasn’t suitable. It was another one of those pressure moments: “What am I going to do?” The new approach suddenly seemed so obvious. If we make a grid out of these new ultra-strong, lightweight tech fibers, like ultra-high-molecular-weight polyethylene, we can make any shape we want! And that’s what we did. I found a fiber called Spectra and called Honeywell, who generously agreed to donate it for our research. That was a real breakthrough, because for the first time I could make completely soft monumental forms that didn’t need rigid structures for support. Once I jettisoned the heavy steel, it was light enough to attach directly into the existing city—existing buildings and infrastructure. That opened up so much; suddenly these artworks could pack up into a box and travel. Computer software that has been developed for the architectural world has opened up possibilities for my sculpture. There was no software that could model what I was doing as an artist. Luckily, my tech-savvy husband David said, “You should go hire a computer scientist to write it.” As an artist, it never occurred to me that I could do that.


I t h i n k m o s t a r t i s t s a re t r y i n g to f i g u re o u t h ow to b u i l d a website. Right! Or a mailing list or to even consider making my own tools as opposed to being limited by the tools that existed. But I had to find the right collaborator. Autodesk, the design software company that makes AutoCAD, decided to make my studio a strategic initiative. They’ve worked with us for three years to create a custom tool to model my sculptures. It’s allowed me to explore density, shape, and scale with the forces of gravity and wind—all within the context of the built environment. We can manipulate designs and see the results immediately. It’s transformed my process. I couldn’t create what I do now without it. Do you find people are excited when you ask for help, or can they sometimes not deal with the unusual requests?

OPPOSITE TOP: In 1997, Echelman traveled to India on a Fulbright Lectureship. There she began sculpting with indigenous fishing nets when her painting supplies didn’t arrive. More than you can chew is a 50’ x 105’ x 105’ foot piece made of bronze, cotton, Bhandini-dyed silk, and galvanized steel from her Bellbottoms Series in Mahaballipuram, India. OPPOSITE BOTTOM: Echelman’s Pulse will be completed in 2015 at Dilworth Plaza in front of Philadelphia City Hall. It was inspired by the site’s historic associations with transportation. A garden of dry mist, the work will be embedded in the new plaza’s 11,600-square-foot fountain fountain and will trace aboveground the real-time paths of three subway lines below.

BOTTOM: Image by OLIN, courtesy Studio Echelman. TOP: Photo courtesy Studio Echelman.





It depends who. I could ask, ask, ask. I can tell immediately if they just don’t want to partake, and then don’t even bother. But there are so many people out there who really do want to do something interesting and new. Good thing it’s like dating. You only need to meet one. Any place where people gather has some history of conflict that informs the way that those places have developed. What is your take on the conflicts you encounter? It is interesting, because I am often asked about the conflict of art and science. What conflict? Where is it? Science and art are based in the same questioning, and I embrace both of them. Also, the conflict between art and architecture—where is that? Different people see the world in different ways. That may just be my approach. The man who created LinkedIn says that when he was a kid, he always saw every person he knew as a set of connections to other people. That’s how he came up with the idea. I was speaking with a former teacher of President Obama who said that in grade school Obama was able to bring people of different opinions together. I see the physical world in terms of interconnections and synthesis. In conflict, I’m not sure I want to side with one view or another, but to understand the spaces between them. My sculptures are about that. They are about this resilient, interconnected system in balance.

a man came up to me and said, “I just have to tell you, I am from Manila in the Philippines and I saw your TED talk.” It was so surreal. From country to country to country. There’s this sense of porousness of the world, that an idea can be expressed and shared with people who never would have encountered my work. That’s a very exciting opportunity of this era, this sort of exponential, porous, global sharing. Someone used the term “cultural entrepreneur.” What is that? What is being an artist today? What are we sharing and creating? How do we want to be relevant to life? One reason I install my work in public spaces over streets is because everybody feels entitled to be on the street, while a lot of people don’t feel entitled to go to a gallery or museum. The street is Everyman’s place. I’ve had wonderful conversations about my art with homeless people who are truly engaging with the art, asking me what it is about, and saying what they think it is, and that’s meaningful. Why are we making art if it is not about life?

DANIEL TUCKER makes documentaries, publications, and events inspired by his interest in social movements and the people and places from which they emerge. He directs the new Social and Studio Practices department at Moore College of Art and Design in Philadelphia.

People often describe your pieces as providing an experience of wonder. What does “wonder” do for us? When someone is drawn to lie down underneath one of my sculptures for a moment of contemplation, to watch the way it changes—which one can only notice when spending time with it—that could be described as an experience of wonder. All of my practice is about discovery, where everything is an unexpected turn. Perhaps there is some of that wonder for me—it makes us feel alive. Considering the popularity of your online video, more people have seen it than many of your individual works. So maybe you could tell us a little bit about TED talks as an art form. Certainly no artwork of mine has been translated into as many different languages as my TED talk. I received feedback from someone who works in prisons in Spain, how they were introducing TED talks to the inmates who selected mine, which was surprising to me. I was told that they related to my rejections, and not giving up. Your art school rejections? Yes. And how everyone said I was not worthy, but that just made me find my own way. The TED talk has brought the ideas of my art to places I could never have gone. I was installing a sculpture in Sydney, Australia, and

Echelman’s As If It Were Already Here was installed over Boston’s Rose Kennedy Greenway in May 2015 and will remain there until October 2015. The aerial sculpture includes over 100 miles of twine and more than a half million knots. Data from sensors around the site monitor fiber movement and direct the color of the light projected onto the sculpture’s surface.

Photo by Melissa Henry, courtesy Studio Echelman.

Photo by Murray Irwin.

Introducing the finalists and semifinalists of the 2nd International Award for Public Art

Researchers and writers for the 2nd International Award for Public Art were Laine Bergeson, Kelly Carmichael, Cameron Cartiere, Giusy Checola, Carrie Ann Christensen, Jessica Fiala, Megan Guerber, Ashley Guindon, Joe Hart, Jo Farb Hernandez, Helen Lessick, Mallory Nezam, Karen Olson, Li Pan, Leon Tan, Dan Wang, Jacqueline White, and Elisa Yon.

Pallet Pavilion (2012), interior, by night.

AROUND THE PLANET, EVERY DAY, public artists take their work to the people. Their projects appear in libraries and street festivals, back alleys and public plazas. Now, the best of this work is being recognized by an international award. The International Award for Public Art (IAPA) was established in 2011 by Forecast Public Art (publisher of Public Art Review) and Shanghai University’s College of Fine Arts (publisher of Public Art) to honor excellence in the field of public art, increase visibility for public art internationally, and foster knowledge through research, discussion, and debate. At the same time, the international Institute for Public Art was established to further the process of research and to support efforts to host an award event and related forums. Six finalists and one winner of the first award were announced in April 2013 in Shanghai, China. Starting in early 2014, Forecast Public Art again began collecting suggestions for hundreds of noteworthy recent public art projects from around the world to consider for the 2nd International

Award for Public Art. With the help of 20 independent researchers, stories, images, and data were collected for 125 projects, all completed between 2007 and 2013. Then an international panel of jurors—Rhana Devenport (New Zealand), Wang Dawei (China), Ute Metea Bauer (Singapore), Jay Pather (South Africa), Bill Kelley, Jr. (U.S.A.), Chelsea Haines (U.S.A.), and Pooja Sood (India)—selected 32 semifinalists. Their next step was to select the seven finalists, one from each of the global regions researched. You’ll find them in these pages—along with the remaining 25 semifinalists. All 32 of these projects will be featured in an exhibition as part of an award ceremony and public art forum called Cities in a Climate of Change in Auckland, New Zealand in July 2015. At the event —hosted by the Elam School of Fine Arts of the National Institute of Creative Arts and Industries at the University of Auckland in partnership with Shandong University School of Fine Arts—the seven finalists will receive special recognition. One of these projects will be announced as the winner. —The editors of Public Art Review






Finalist: Makoko Floating School Place: Lagos, Nigeria Architect: Kunlé Adeyemi Year Completed: 2013 Makoko Floating School is a prototype floating structure, built for the historic waterfront community of Makoko, located on the lagoon heart of Nigeria’s largest city, Lagos. In 2011, Kunlé Adeyemi took on the challenge of creating classrooms for impoverished waterfront communities in Lagos, Nigeria. Working in Nigeria and the Netherlands, where he maintains his design practice, he strove to create structures that do not rely on land for structural integrity. Makoko Floating School is the realization of a prototype for a series of schoolhouses located in Lagos Lagoon, a densely urban waterfront area where dry land is at a premium. The Floating School supports the goal of offering primary education to the lowest-income families. The project is an ambitious urban design solution realized by skilled artisans in the waterfront community of Lagos. The most compelling attributes of the project are conceptual. Adeyemi reimagined water as his project’s construction site. He designed structures to harness and improve the skill sets of local artisans. The project was created from leftover materials donated by a local sawmill and locally grown bamboo, and it took the tradition of personal floating structures and made them into a community center. It is not known whether the school is yet in operation, nor is it known if there are any amenities in the structure, such as electricity,


fans, restrooms, built-in benches or desks, or mooring. One prototype—a four-story A-frame structure complete with solar-powered systems—debuted in 2013. From an urban planning perspective, the project has successfully created usable space on the water surface. However, there is no mention of how covering a large plot of water will affect fish, crustaceans, and aquatic plant life. Taking away the sunlight affects subsurface communities in water as well as the human communities who rely on aquatic agriculture or fishing. While the project was submitted without an identified public artist or public art goal, this unique design demonstrates an innovative use of water as site, and it engaged the community by employing local tradespeople in completing the untraditional design. —Helen Lessick

The Maboneng Township Arts Experience (Alexandra, South Africa). Alexandra, still one of the poorest areas in the country, was long known as the “Dark City” because of its lack of electricity. By turning homes into art galleries and streets into performance venues, the festival aims to dispel a metaphorical darkness in which residents view art as beyond their reach.

Light in the Revolution Night (Martyr Square, Zouhour City, Kasserine, Tunisia). Described by Jabbari as a work of “calligraffiti,” a fusion of traditional Arabic calligraphy and graffiti, the project was a means for the artist to come to terms with the desires and violence of the Tunisian Arab Spring in which many protesters were killed by government forces. (Learn more on page 38).

One of the floating platforms used as a base for the Makoko Floating School Building.


The main structure of the school completed.

Photos courtesy NLÉ.


Dream City (Tunis and Sfax, Tunisia). Dream City is a Tunisian biennial of contemporary art in public space. In 2012, with the theme of Artists Facing Freedom, it consisted of sitespecific works by artists from Tunisia, Algeria, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Benin, Egypt, Iran, China, Spain, France, Palestine, and the Netherlands.

Salon Urbain de Douala 2010 (Douala, Cameroon). Douala’s triennial festival of public art was founded in 2007 by the arts center doual’art. It was conceived as a means of transforming and culturally enriching Douala. The 2010 edition featured Cameroonian and international artists and had the theme of water, a limited resource for locals.



Finalist: Kai Tak River Green Corridor Place: Hong Kong, China Artist: Wallace Chang Duration: 2007–present Wallace Ping Hung Chang’s Kai Tak River Green Corridor (KTRGC) project brings environmental awareness and action to what used to be one of the most polluted stretches of water in Hong Kong. By staging participatory art projects along the river during the 2011 Green Arts Festival, KTRGC brought new life to the area, building ties between residents and the environment. KTRGC brings sorely needed environmental awareness to a river so poisoned that the odious smells emanating from it caused the government to draw up plans to pave over the waterway with concrete. But grassroots activists, including the project lead, architecture professor Wallace Chang, rigorously opposed that proposal. Instead, they argued for the waterway to be transformed into a green corridor. Through negotiations with district councilors, Chang was invited to explore alternatives to the government decision to cover the river. A change of chairperson in the district council near the end of 2007 provided time for the Community Alliance of Kai Tak to flesh out a framework for KTRGC. Eventually, Chang and others organized a series of artistic and educational projects, receiving funding from the Arts Development Council in 2009 and the Environmental Conservation Fund in 2011, to instigate international artist residencies and participatory arts events in partnership with 17 local schools.


By staging cultural activities—for example, exhibiting the participatory art projects along the river during the 2011 Green Arts Festival—KTRGC built ties between residents and the environment. KTRGC also instilled in students an interest in the state of the environment and the future of Hong Kong, a city with extensive water and air pollution problems. The project stands out as a highly successful creative placemaking intervention and an example of community-driven spatial planning. The project succeeded by helping create new relationships between activists, government officials, and agencies; establishing new, open-space zoning for the area, which allows it to be used as a public park; and cleaning the river. Today the offensive smell is gone, and wildlife, birds and fish are returning to reside in and alongside the waterway. KTRGC, which received the 2013 Hong Kong Arts Development Award, demonstrates how artists and artistic activities can blend with other disciplines such as environmental science and education, political administration, and spatial planning to successfully transform public spaces. —Leon Tan, Ph.D.

Land Art Mongolia / LAM 360° (Baga Gazriin Chuluu, Dundgobi). This biennial art festival focuses on land art as one possible form of spatial and outdoor visualization of the relations between nature, culture, and social practices. It promotes freedom of expression in joining people and institutions from all sectors of Mongolian society.

Anime Valley of the Flowers (Shanli Village in Longxi Town, Yuhuan County, Zhejiang Province, China). In order to promote rural development and give villagers better living opportunities, the county government and College of Fine Arts at Shanghai University introduced public art into the area, enriching the villagers’ lives and advocating an ideal human living environment.

Big Onion by Yu-Chih Hsiao of Taiwan was part of the Kai Tak River Green Corridor.



Photos by Chang Ping Hung Wallace, 2012, Kai Tak River.

Greencube by Dylan Kowk and CUHK architectural students was one of several artworks in the Kai Tak River Green Corridor project calling attention to polluted water in Hong Kong.

Xucun International Art Commune (Shanxi Province, China). Artists from all over the world are invited to participate in a biennial festival. The first Heshun County Art Festival, held in July 2011, set a precedent of conducting contemporary art creation activities in the traditional Chinese culture hinterland.

New Workers Art Troupe ( Tongxin School, Picun Village, Jinzhan Township, Chaoyang District, Beijing, China). This grassroots nonprofit organization initiated by a group of migrant workers is committed to the local community, serving public interests through art.



SOUTHEAST ASIA / AUSTRALIA / OCEANIA Finalist: Pallet Pavilion Place: Christchurch, New Zealand Artists: Gap Filler Duration: December 2012–April 2014 Pallet Pavilion was a temporary, visually engaging community events venue built by volunteers in a post-disaster city. From September 2010 to February 2011, a series of earthquakes struck the city of Christchurch and its surrounding areas. It was estimated that over 80 percent of the buildings in the city center were destroyed, with repair costs over $40 billion. In response to the first earthquake in September 2010, Coralie Winn, an arts coordinator, and Dr. Ryan Reynolds, a lecturer in theatre and film studies at the University of Canterbury, formed Gap Filler, a multidisciplinary team of creative professionals dedicated to reactivating the growing number of vacant sites left by the devastating earthquake, with temporary, transitional, community-based and socially engaged projects. Pallet Pavilion was an open-air community gathering space, built using more than 3,000 wooden blue CHEP pallets and additional donated, loaned, and repurposed materials. It was located on the former site of the Crowne Plaza Hotel in the center of Christchurch. The pavilion was designed to support a variety of cultural and social programs, and was home to more than 250 events during its existence. It took an estimated 150 or more people and 2,500 hours of skilled and unskilled labor to build the pavilion in six weeks, engaging volunteers aged 16 to 65. More than 55 community part-


ners and sponsors are acknowledged on the pavilion website. Site amenities included food and drink vendors, security, power, site maintenance, audio-visual equipment, an on-site administration team, toilets, and waste collection. From December 2012 to April 2013, an estimated 25,000 people participated as visitors, volunteers, vendors, and performers. In May 2013, Gap Filler launched a crowd-funding campaign to extend the life of the Pallet Pavilion. They successfully raised NZ$82,000 to cover the pavilion’s operational costs for an additional year. Then, in April 2014, the pavilion was deconstructed. The site continues to be known as “The Commons” and is now home to a handful of post-quake organizations. The site continues to support transitional projects and is governed by an evolving set of aspirations for the site. Pallet Pavilion may be understood as a temporary, communitybased, socially engaged public art installation. The project transformed a prominent city center site devastated by the earthquakes into a much-needed gathering space to welcome residents and businesses back into the area. —Elisa Yon

Forgotten Songs (Sydney, Australia). This permanent public art installation comprises 180 bird cages that play a soundscape of birdsong. The calls are from bird species that used to live in the city before the arrival of Europeans. Digital Odyssey (Eleven regional locations across Australia). Digital Odyssey was an

18-month tour and artist residency that bought Australian artist Craig Walsh’s distinctive artwork to locations throughout the country. Walsh traveled around Australia developing and presenting temporary large-scale public projection and multimedia works that were collaborative with communities and responsive to regional history, local stories, and the surrounding landscape.

Pallet Pavilion, an open-air gathering space, was constructed from more than 3,000 wood pallets.

Photo by Maja Moritz



Photo by Murray Irwin.

More than 250 events took place at Pallet Pavilion, which stood at the site of the Crowne Plaza Hotel destroyed in the Christchurch earthquake.

Redfern Waterloo Tour of Beauty (Sydney and Redfern, Australia). This project consisted of a bus (or bike) tour of the inner Sydney suburbs. The tour highlighted particular sites that were threatened by the Redfern Waterloo Authority’s plan to “revitalise” the area. The Tour of Beauty operated as a piece of aesthetic activism, provid-

ing a complex but concrete experience of urban social and architectural dynamics.



Finalist: The Geometry of Conscience Place: Santiago, Chile Artist: Alfredo Jaar Year Completed: 2010 Artist Alfredo Jaar created a radically different type of memorial for the victims of the 17-year Pinochet military dictatorship. Housed on the grounds of Santiago’s Museum of Memory and Human Rights, the memorial is situated underground. Access to the memorial is restricted to only ten people at a time, and viewing the piece takes approximately three minutes. Visitors descend by 33 steps into absolute darkness. After a full minute in the dark, 500 silhouettes—each representing many more victims of the regime—slowly brighten on one wall, reflected infinitely in two facing, mirrored side-walls. After the lights reach their full intensity, they snap off, plunging the viewers into darkness, with an intense afterimage left on their retinas. The legacy of the Pinochet dictatorship, which ended only 24 years ago, is still fresh in the lives of Chileans today. Thousands of citizens were murdered by his government, and tens of thousands were tortured or imprisoned for political reasons. It is fitting, then, that half of the 500 silhouettes depicted in Jaar’s memorial represent living Chileans; the other half depict the “disappeared.” As a result, the work is “a memorial not for victims only but rather for the 17 million Chileans who are alive today and trying to retrace their common history,” according to Capucine Gros, Jaar’s studio manager.


In the universe of public memorials, The Geometry of Conscience stands out. Most memorials are static places of contemplation and memory. As such, they insert a gap between the past that is remembered and the living present. This distance between those who mourn and those for whom they mourn is shortened in Jaar’s piece. In part this is because of the mixture of silhouettes used for the memorial, and in part it’s because of the piece’s unique physicality. Not only is the piece profoundly unsettling as it imposes a relative isolation and deprives the viewers of light; it also builds physicality into a central role of the experience. “The after-image effect imprints their retinas with a million dots of light and physically embeds the silhouettes into the audience’s visual memory,” says Gros. “The work’s success, therefore, relies on both the conceptual understanding of the work (the viewer’s intellect and feelings) and the audience’s inevitable physiological reception of it (the viewer’s body).” The Geometry of Conscience was completed in 2010. Jaar, a Chilean, is highly acclaimed for his work in film, photography, and public interventions, which frequently include light boxes. He represented Chile in the 55th Venice Biennale. —Joe Hart

Luz Nas Vielas (São Paulo, Brazil). Luz Nas Vielas (In Light Alleys) transformed walls in the walkways of the Vila Brasilândia neighborhood of São Paulo. Initiated by the Madrid-based artist collective Boa Mistura, in collaboration with families in the neighborhood, the project used the overlapping planes of the buildings to create playful optical perspective–painting: at the

right angle, one of several words appears to pop into space, hovering at the horizon line of the walking path. El Bibliobandido (El Pital, Honduras). The Bibliobandido project uses art and performance to boost literacy. The Book Bandit wears a disguise and, “ravenous for stories, roves the jun-

Visitors descend 33 steps down from the plaza to visit The Geometry of Conscience, a memorial to victims of the Pinochet military rule.


The Geometry of Conscience memorial is installed underground at the Museum of Memory and Human Rights in Santiago, Chile. The memorial is a silent, three-minute experience that can only be shared by ten people at once.

Photos courtesy the artist.


gles terrorizing little kids until they write stories to nourish his insatiable appetite.” Launched by artist Marisa Jahn in collaboration with villagers in El Pital, Honduras, the program provides book-making, story-telling, and literacy support through a volunteer “library committee.”

Ghetto Biennale (Port-au-Prince, Haiti). Responding to the lack of mobility faced by many Haitian artists, the Ghetto Biennale brings the international art community to Haiti, working to undermine obstacles to participation, provide access to fresh ideas, foster dialogue across barriers, and provide greater visibility for Haitian artists. Creating a “third space” beyond first

world/third world binaries, the biennale provides a platform for artists from different backgrounds to collaborate, share their work, and enter into debates and discussions.



Finalist: Labyrinth and Cabins of Argelaguer Place: Girona, Spain Artist: Josep Pujiula i Vila Completed: 2011–ongoing Josep Pujiula i Vila is a self-taught artist who, driven by personal passion, created a monumental artwork that has become central to the shared public identity of his village. Vila received no underwriting, sponsorships, or funding besides coins dropped into an improvised donation box. Yet, working for over 45 years on three separate, massive constructions, he has ignited the passion of the villagers, who are now working actively to preserve his artwork and reclaim it as emblematic of their locale. Pujiula, a retired factory worker without his own land, built his structures on someone else’s private property. His first, straightforward architectural installation evolved into a second, more artful and expansive multilevel construction project. Created from branches found on-site, this second work of art included seven 100-foot towers, innumerable bridges, shelters, walkways, and stairwells, and a labyrinth over a mile long. Working alone, with impressive technical prowess, he constructed soaring spires as well as graceful passageways and shelters with superficially fragile materials. He confidently adjusted to changes, opportunities, imperfections, and a lack or abundance of materials, improvising and integrating contingent elements. No formalized written plans ever existed for his elaborate constructions. Tens of thousands of visitors passed through the site annually. Their ability to physically interact with Pujiula’s constructions


energized and emotionally impacted them: “Thanks for making us feel like children,” read an anonymous note. In 2002, Pujiula was forced to destroy the first iteration of his spectacular public project by the village government and state authorities, despite petitions from protesting supporters worldwide. Undaunted, Pujiula moved to a nearby site and began again. The third, monumental version (2007–2011) was elegant and extremely complex, evidence of his maturing aesthetic sense and his sharpened technical skills. To enhance durability, he also began working in stone, concrete, and steel, and soon his constructions again had become one of the world’s largest art environments, comprising eight towers, a new labyrinth, and numerous kinetic sculptures and cascading fountains. Nevertheless, in 2012 Pujiula was forced yet again to dismantle and burn all of the wooden components. Today Pujiula—along with the energized villagers and thousands of international supporters—is fighting to save and conserve what remains. His work has become the very symbol of Argelaguer, while at the same time it has gained increasing global importance, thanks to his innovative design, the monumentality of the construction, and his formidable tenacity. —Jo Farb Hernandez

Fr e e h o u s e N e i g h b o u r h o o d Wo r k s h o p (Rotterdam, the Netherlands). Conceived by a community of artists, designers, and residents of Afrikaanderwijk, this project is a series of workshops “that challenge people to play a more active part with respect to the space outside.” Workshops based on the enhancement of skills or talents that exist in the neighborhood

attempt to connect individuals with skills to employment opportunities. Lowlands, Clydeside Walkway (Glasgow, Scotland). Lowlands is a large-scale sound installation by 2010 Turner Prize winner Susan Philipsz, commissioned for the Glasgow International Festival of Visual Art in 2010. On her first

Josep Pujiala i Vila used branches found on-site to create suspended walkways, circa 2002.


Kinetic sculptures built circa 2007.

TOP: Photo by Carlos Vila of Girona. CENTER AND BOTTOM: Photos by Jo Farb Hernandez.


Pujiala built these towers between 2007 and 2011.

site visit, the artist noticed flowers on the rails of the bridge, an anonymous memorial to a suicide. Taking this as a cue, Philipsz decided to base her work on a sixteenth century Scottish ballad, “Lowlands Away.” Par tizaning Public Mailboxes (Moscow, Russia). This is a self-commissioned artistic proj-

ect focused on stimulating dialogue, collective thought, and action through the interface of publicly sited mailboxes. In 2012, the collective Partizaning set up 15 mailboxes in outlying areas of Moscow, posing questions about local experiences of urban challenges and wishes for the future.

A’Salaam Alaykum: Peace Be Upon You (Turin, Italy). This public installation by Lebanese artist Zena el Khalil was commissioned in 2009 for the Fondazione Merz. A rotating 3.8-meter-tall “Allah” sign in Arabic script, executed in mirrored glass tiles, was surrounded by spotlights, accompanied by a DJ set by Ayla Hibri, and included projections of images of everyday life.



Finalist: Conflict Kitchen Place: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA Artists: Jon Rubin and Dawn Weleski Completed: 2010–ongoing Located within the park surrounding the Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh, Conflict Kitchen is both a restaurant and a socially engaged public art project that serves cuisine from countries with which the United States is in conflict. The project, created by Jon Rubin and Dawn Weleski, rotates identities every few months in relation to current geopolitical events and has included North Korea, Cuba, Iran, Venezuela, and Afghanistan. Each Conflict Kitchen iteration is supplemented by events, performances, and discussions that seek to expand the public’s engagement with the culture, politics, and issues at stake within the focus country. The first experiment was with Persian food, highlighting Iran. To prepare, the artist team travels to the country of conflict with their chef, or as close to it as they can get. On a recent trip to South Korea, for example, they met with North Korean defectors, gathered interviews and recipes, and cooked in home kitchens. Much of the food served through Conflict Kitchen is handheld street food. The wrapper that surrounds the food item contains quotes from interviews with people from that region and other information to expand the diners’ understanding of these countries. Another means of social engagement is through Conflict Kitchen’s Wednesday dining experience, where people can join in a discussion


and meal with a “human avatar,” a staff member who is connected via live feed to an individual from the current conflict country. There are also group Skype meals where, for example, a group can gather in Pittsburgh and another in Iran for a collective meal that is connected by technology. The work of Conflict Kitchen has continued to expand beyond the original storefront in East Liberty and the current kiosk in Schenley Plaza. The project is also mobile, hosting events such as The Lunch Hour (in conjunction with the University of Pittsburgh Honors College), where students can come for discussions and food focused on countries in crisis such as Ukraine and Egypt. Conflict Kitchen has also developed an event called “The President’s Speech.” The first version was “The Cuban Speech,” for which Conflict Kitchen asked over 40 Cubans and Cuban Americans to write part of a speech that they would like President Barack Obama to deliver. An Obama impersonator was then hired to deliver the speech. The current iteration of Conflict Kitchen serves Palestinian food. —Cameron Cartiere

Art Shanty Projects (White Bear Lake, Minnesota, USA). Every other year, Art Shanty Projects transforms a frozen lake into a creative community space that is part art gallery, part art residency, and part social experiment. Homeless Remembrance Project (Tree of Life & Leaves of Remembrance) (Seattle, Washington,

USA). The world’s first permanent publicly sited memorial to the homeless, the bronze Tree of Life in Seattle, Washington, exemplifies a trend in public memorials, commemorating victims rather than celebrating heroes. The Tree of Life sculpture is extended across the city by Leaves of Remembrance, each bearing the name of a homeless person who has died and scattered as if by the

So far, Conflict Kitchen has served food from Afghanistan, North Korea, Cuba, Venezuela, and, pictured here, Iran.


Conflict Kitchen serving up food from Venezuela.


Images © the artists.

Here, Conflict Kitchen serves food from Afghanistan.

wind, serving as an enduring public testimony to the inherent humanity of homeless people. Soil Kitchen (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA). Soil Kitchen is a temporary, windmill-powered architectural intervention and multi-use space where citizens enjoy free soup in exchange for soil samples from their neighborhood.

Cámara Lambdoma or Lambdoma Chamber (Mexico City, Mexico). This project by artist Ariel Guzik is a permanent sound installation in the Cárcamo de Dolores in Chapultepec Park. It consists of a complex set of painstakingly crafted sonic machinery. The most visible component is an organ made up of two sets of pipes, producing harmonies and subharmonies based on a mathematical grid.



Finalist: Talk To Me Place: Yelahanka, Bangalore, India Artist: Jasmeen Patheja, with Blank Noise Duration: 2005–present In December 2012, a 23-year-old female student was gang-raped in a moving bus in India’s capital city of New Delhi. She eventually died from her injuries. The event sparked international outrage and the Indian government introduced new anti-rape laws as a result. An Indian court sentenced the attackers to death. While the event was singularly brutal, it was by no means an isolated incident. It is more accurately characterized as a symptom of pervasive and fiercely patriarchal social conditions to be found throughout the subcontinent. Blank Noise is a collective that emerged in Bangalore in 2003 as an artistic and political response to the widespread harassment and rape of women. It was initiated by Jasmeen Patheja as a student graduation project, and over the years gained momentum to become a nationwide community arts movement. Blank Noise initiates public conversations on issues of sexual violence in India. It has also realized numerous discrete interventions in several cities, relying on volunteers known as “action heroes.” According to the artist, action heroes are “a growing community of citizens, male and female” who donate time and energy to the collective’s cause. One notable intervention was Talk to Me (2012), a project facilitated by Patheja with Srishti School of Art, Design and Technology students over one month in Bangalore. In Talk to Me, participants (Yelahanka Action Heroes) identified a site in the Yelahanka neigh-


borhood in which they felt sexually threatened: a quarter-kilometer stretch of street without public lighting at night. The action heroes set up tables and chairs signposted with “action guidelines” inviting the public to engage in conversation about “anything except sexual violence” as a four-hour-long public encounter. Tea and samosas were provided for the conversations. Participants were all gifted a flower at the end of each conversation. By engaging in the conversation, the action heroes were given an opportunity to reframe their perceptions of vulnerability in relation to the site. Furthermore, the action functioned to temporarily reclaim the stretch of road for public good, brokering encounters between locals and strangers across the barriers of class, caste, religion, gender, and language. Talk to Me has subsequently been staged in other cities including New Delhi and Kolkata. Blank Noise’s interventions, including but not limited to Talk to Me, are commendable for their engagement of the public in tackling a deeply entrenched social problem. The projects are highly accessible, the image of the action hero being one that lends itself well to positive identification, and the vocabulary of action being immediately comprehensible. TED and Ashoka Fellowships, as well as extensive coverage of the artist and Blank Noise online and in print media, attest to the collective’s success and continuing relevance to society. —Leon Tan, Ph.D.

A Pakhtun Memory (Karachi, Pakistan). In December 2011, artists associated with the Tentative Collective recruited musicians to perform illegally in a public square near a squatters’ colony in Karachi City, Pakistan. They played a song that derived from Pakhtun, the rural homeplace from which many of the local squatters had migrated. The flash event turned into a

spontaneous, joyful gathering that included impromptu dance performances. On the Side of the Road: Activestills Street Exhibitions (West Bank). The idea for On the Side of the Road came during demonstrations against the Israeli-built “separation wall” in the West Bank town of Bil’in. When the photographers

At the end of the hour-long Talk To Me conversation, the “Action Hero” gave the new Action Hero a flower.


Talk To Me takes place in an area of Bangalore where people feel sexually threatened. The project invites members of public to have conversations about anything except sexual violence.

Photos by Jasmeen Patheja, faciltator, Action Hero, and Vishaka Jindal, Yelahanka Action Hero.


found mainstream media outlets were uninterested in their photographs documenting the protests, they simply printed them out on letter paper and tacked them on public walls. The Park (New Delhi, Dakshinpuri, India). The Park was a public art project by Sreejata Roy in the working-class neighborhood of Dakshinpuri

in South Delhi over 2008–2009. Roy’s project aimed to revitalize and transform a neglected park in J-Block in Dakshinpuri.

AND THE WINNER IS…. Visit to learn about the winner of the 2nd International Award for Public Art, which will be announced in early July 2015.



When Chilean-born artist Alfredo Jaar visited the town of Skoghall, Sweden, which had invited him to propose a work of public art, he was shocked by the absence of any cultural spaces. He also took note that the town’s primary employer was the multinational paper company Stora Enso. Jaar added up these observations and proposed to build a paper museum, The Skoghall Konsthall, and burn it to the ground after 24 hours. His goal? To offer a glimpse of what contemporary art is and emphasize its absence after it disappeared. As part of the project, Jaar refused the city council’s funding, instead insisting that it should be completely funded by Stora Enso. The company complied. And in 2000, the project burned the notion of cultural spaces into the fabric of Skoghall and put the town on Sweden’s artistic map. The Skoghall Konsthall also raised broader consciousness around funding for public art, which can be quite complex. Jaar was able to do something highly unusual by taking control of who paid for his art within the work itself. Most artists, however, find themselves having to operate from project to project within widely divergent expectations and parameters based on funding sources and commissioning bodies. These variables can create an environment of uncertainty: While one set of parameters might be limiting for one artist, they might actually help another artist thrive. What is certain is that the expectations or pressures involved in each situation are sure to affect each artist’s process—and resulting artwork.

For the past eight years or so the field of public art has operated in the realm of scarcity, where most artists and public art administrators have had to focus a great deal of attention on the practical matter of how to compete for funding. Today more civic money is available again. At the same time, arts funding is transitioning to new models. Artists are funding works through crowdsourcing. Foundations are experimenting with bypassing traditional structures and systems, going instead directly to individual artists and community members and offering to fund their ideas. New initiatives—like Bloomberg Philanthropies’ Public Art Challenge, in which three cities could win up to $1 million each (learn more on page 29), and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation’s Knight Arts Challenge—are cropping up. As we renew our investment in public art in a shifting landscape, it seems timely to consider how particular funding sources— private, public, personal—influence the art-making process. For it has a tremendous impact on the success of a work. “The successful public artwork continues to be judged against its ability both to galvanize popular opinion and to contribute positively to place-making on the basis of immediate impact,” writes Claire Doherty in her intro to Public Art (Now): Out of Time, Out

How artists are affected by BY JOE HART

Public art is funded in a variety of ways, and many financial structures are quite complex. The works pictured in these pages offer a basic overview of how some public art projects—with a range of budgets from $50 to $3.5 million—are funded.

of Place (Art/Books, 2015). “Invariably, if it fails on either count, it is judged against its price tag. For those who support the funding, commissioning and production of public artworks, value largely still resides in its capacity to endure physically, or in its return on the funder’s investment.” And what about the artists who want to create art and at the same time are working to earn a living? To get a sense of how funding mechanisms affect their work, we spoke to half a dozen artists with extensive experience working in the public realm. While there’s no simple explanation for the role that money plays in the art-making process, there are certainly a range of issues worth exploring.

THE CIVIC COMMISSION Let’s take a traditional model first: a large sculpture on a piece of public property, say, or a mural on the side of a courthouse. In such cases, the process usually involves a public art commission, and a committee housed in city government releases a request for proposals for the work. The money for works like these usually comes from a variety of sources. Some might come from a percentfor-art scheme that sets aside part of the construction budget for

art; that money might be augmented by other city money or by private donations. The downside of this process, according to most of the artists interviewed for this story, is that the committee process can be slow and cumbersome—and artistic ideas can get watered down in the process. “You have to please ten or twelve people,” explains Gordon Huether, who runs a large studio in Napa, California, and handles public as well as private art commissions. How that process unfolds, from the standpoint of artistic vision, depends a good deal on the makeup and experience of the committee members. “I would use the word collaboration,” says Huether. “I would love to be a purist, but then I can’t afford to eat. You either collaborate and be willing to ‘water down’ your concept, or there won’t be anything at all. I can’t afford to walk away from a project because they want it dark blue and I think it’d be better in light blue.” For Huether, and many artists like him working in the public sector, this spirit of compromise is a comfortable fit—not at all at odds with his artistic vision. “I’ve always operated that way,” he says. “I’m not an artist like Richard Serra who has a certain lane


funding mechanisms



Title: Artist: Location: Budget:


Flower Pot Hole (Rose), 2014 Jim Bachor Chicago, IL Bachor did nine pothole installations in 2014. Each cost $75–$100. Bachor’s 2015 potholes are being funded by $4,600 from a Kickstarter campaign (his original goal was $300). Self-funded

and they stay in that lane whether it’s for a police station or a public plaza. My work is driven by telling the story of the client.” While many complain that this committee approach results in artwork that’s risk-averse in favor of a safer aesthetic, Lynn Basa, who began her career with the City of Seattle’s Arts Commission and later served as curator of the art collection of Safeco Insurance, argues that’s as it should be. From the committee’s perspective, she explains, collaboration with the artist is in part driven by a need to find the right level of risk-taking in public art. “Context is so important, and people are receiving public art as they go about their daily business,” she says. “They’re not going to have an art experience like they would in the museum. That’s the reason that work in the public sector isn’t as conceptual or difficult as work that you find in a contemporary art museum. And I don’t have a problem with that.”

VISUALIZING CORPORATE VALUES Privately funded public art, including corporate settings, can be a much more streamlined process. In many cases, says Huether, a single point-person handles the project. “It lives or dies on

that one person’s decision,” he says. “That can be a much easier process to navigate, but you better hope that’s a person you like to work with.” In terms of artistic freedom—or the level of artistic compromise —the process for private funding can be even more constraining than a civic one. Often, the organization seeks to give artistic expression to a corporate vision or set of values. If that’s the case, the funders may feel more invested in the image and outcome of the piece. BJ Katz, who specializes in glass artworks and public sculpture, learned this the hard way when, early in her career, a commission turned out badly. “I had a client who wasn’t happy with the piece,” she says. For Katz, the lesson she learned is to invest time in up-front communication. “You need to structure or inform the client’s expectations so that they understand what they’re getting. That helps prevent surprises late in the game.” That communication may result in some design compromises, but more often it’s a question of “how you explain, frame, and name the artwork,” she says, especially since much of her work evokes themes of nature, which can be applied, on a theoretical level, to any number of mission statements or company values. “It’s largely a

Photo by Jim Bachor.




Artist: Location: Budget: Source:

“Nicholas Karaberis and Monica Melton” from the series Stranger/ Community: Tacoma, 2013 Dawoud Bey Tacoma, WA $73,630 One half of one percent of the state’s portion of construction costs for a University of Washington at Tacoma project.

Photo courtesy the artist and Washington State Arts Commission.


matter of them wanting something that is consistent with who they believe they are as an organization.” Unlike public percent-for-art programs, where local or regional ordinances require certain projects to set aside a budget for art, corporate projects are budgeting money because the art somehow speaks to their values—or adds value to the environment inhabited by their employees or customers. Safeco, where Basa served as curator, has a conservative culture modeled after IBM, she says. Its contemporary art collection might at first seem at odds with that culture. “Safeco wanted to show that creativity is valued,” she explains. The artwork was a way to communicate that value. “The cynical view is that big government and big business collect art for their own nefarious devices,” she says. “But having been on the inside of both, [I know] they really do see it as a way of supporting an important part of their culture. They’re also doing it to enhance their environment and to make their world a better place, and I’m not cynical about that. And it creates a lot of jobs for artists.” Whether you take the cynical view or not, understanding these motives behind corporate funding of public art is helpful in understanding not only the process but the artworks themselves. It’s also

remarkable what a departure this is from the past. Arguably, the first privately sponsored public artworks were a demonstration of power and wealth. (Consider Egypt’s pyramids, the public sculptures of Rome commemorating heroes, or icons of the religious power structure.) As the notion of a “corporation” emerged from the Industrial Revolution and Western capitalism, the tone of public art shifted. It remained a symbol of power and wealth, but added to that was a sense of noblesse oblige and civic pride. Ryerson Steel is a good example, says Frances Whitehead, a public artist at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC). “They were a Chicago family, and it was their own town,” she says. “They gave a wing to the Art Institute. They collected Cornells. In today’s world, Ryerson is a global entity. You don’t have the commitment to civic responsibility that you used to have.” What many public artists have discovered, however, is that that civic responsibility has been replaced by new commitments—like sustainability, diversity, creativity. Reasonable people can debate the merits or authenticity of these commitments, just as one could contrast yesterday’s noblesse oblige against the litany of abuses committed by arts-loving tycoons of the past. Still, understanding

Urban Air (rendering) Stephen Glassman Los Angeles, CA $100,000 Raised on Kickstarter

Title: Artist: Location: Budget: Source:

North Texas Sunrise Dixie Friend Gay Love Field, Dallas, Texas $310,000 Partnership between Dallas Public Art and Southwest Airlines

how and why corporations are investing in public art can be a key to successfully accessing those funding streams. Basa, for instance, works out of a studio storefront and wants to launch a series of curated installations in the space. “I was able to raise more than enough money just by walking up and down the street and pestering developers and banks,” she says. “They have money to give away if you ask them. In fact they’re looking for ways to give away money. Why not give them that opportunity?” And the opportunity cuts both ways. A number of artists, including Whitehead, are experimenting with “embedded practice,” working side-by-side with engineers, planners, and other city officials on projects that expand the definition of public art. Whitehead, for instance, has created brownfield remediation projects designed to clean up Chicago’s abandoned gas stations. Now similar experiments are happening in the corporate world. In 2013, St. Paul’s Springboard for the Arts launched its Artist Organizers pilot program, and now it is looking to place an artist within The Cornerstone Group, a real estate company with the aim of transforming ordinary spaces into extraordinary ones.

CREATIVE FUNDING FOR SOCIAL PRACTICE In general, the traditional funding models, whether corporate or public, fund traditional public artworks—that is, object-oriented art, which includes not only sculptures, murals, and similar works, but artist-designed parks and even city infrastructure. But one of the more interesting developments in the field of public art is the emergence of work that is focused on “social practice,” not art objects. Whitehead’s work on brownfields is but one example. Artists like Rick Lowe (Houston) and Theaster Gates (Chicago), and collaborative groups like Futurefarmers (San Francisco) and Big Car (Indianapolis), are involved in a range of projects that blur the lines between art, activism, and performance. Can these sorts of projects find public art funding from traditional mechanisms? Not according to Basa. “There would have to be a massive overhaul of the public financing system,” she says. “Social practice tends to be critical and based on a critique of institutions. What is that, then, when it becomes co-opted?” It’s not just the aspects of critique that make social practice difficult to fund. In fact, many artists involved with such projects don’t critique as much as they roll up their sleeves and get busy. More important

BOTTOM: Photo courtesy the artist. TOP: Photo rendering courtesy the artist.



Title: Artist: Location: Budget: Source:

Cloud Arch (rendering) Junya Ishigami Sydney, Australia $3.5 million City of Sydney


Title: Artist: Location: Budget: Source:

Photo rendering courtesy the artist.


is the nebulous nature of these engagements, says Whitehead. “It’s dialogical, event-based, participatory. You’re connecting up into interactivity and performance art—just to be able to say what you’re doing is getting complicated, much less to fit into the funding stream.” Yet funding is available. And the world of object-art has clues for how to find it. When installing a glass artwork in a construction project, for instance, Katz will sometimes receive some of her funding through the art budget and some through money set aside for window glazing. “That’s what really makes it happen,” she says. “If you didn’t have the window budget, you’d get a lot less money and a lot less art.” Similarly, the more performative, practice-oriented public art that’s undertaken by artists like Whitehead can make creative use of non-art budgets. The city of Chicago, for example, used a small portion of its parks budget to purchase annual flowers in its extensive park system. Some of that funding goes to involve artists in a project to revitalize the lake ecology of Lincoln Park with wild plantings. And the cost of Whitehead’s remediation project came in part from administrative budgets dedicated to brownfield cleanup. “To me this was a no-brainer. When you do something innovative, everyone puts their heads together and finds the funding—a

little from here, a little from there. And that includes in-kind and volunteer contributions,” she says.

CROWDSOURCED ART Another emerging source for public art money is crowdfunding platforms like Kickstarter. Although each website has its own rules, crowdfunding generally allows artists (and musicians, entrepreneurs, or anyone else seeking funds) to put up a web page and collect money from friends, fans, and strangers, often in return for some reward related to the project—a print, photograph, or sketch. What began less than a decade ago as a neat connector for DIY-ers has ballooned into a juggernaut. Last year on Kickstarter alone, backers pledged $14.8 million to projects in the arts category; $2.7 million to dance; $66.4 million to film; $34.1 million to music; and $6.8 million to photography, for a grand total of nearly $125 million dollars. The total 2015 NEA budget for grants is just under $30 million. Equally important is the ad-hoc community on sites like Kickstarter. Clearly (and a bit surprisingly), the messy, social/interactive properties of the Internet are emerging as its most defining and

Title: Artist: Location: Budget: Source:

Backyard Pool Tamara Johnson Long Island City, NY $10,000 Rockrose Development Corp. (private)

Bower Lynn Basa and students at Northern Iowa University Cedar Falls, IA $200,000 Percent for art, plus part of a learning-whileearning program

interesting qualities. Formerly solitary experiences like reading the news, shopping for clothes, or cooking from a recipe have suddenly become intensely social activities, as friends and strangers connect online to recommend, reject, and re-tweet just about anything. Crowdfunding, then, has radical implications for public artists —much more so than for studio artists—because it “cuts out the middle-man.” When a public artist can request funding directly from the real, live public, what role can either public or private commissioning bodies serve? “I didn’t know what to expect with Kickstarter,” says artist Stephen Glassman, who raised $100,000 on the website for his Urban Air project. “It was anarchy. The response and the money was complete passion. There were school kids sending a dollar or two. There were no borders. It was what powerful art needs to be—a collective vision.” Glassman was raising money for a prototype project to turn billboards in Los Angeles, and ultimately in other cities, into living gardens suspended over the urban landscape. Other prominent public art Kickstarter projects included Ai Weiwei’s exhibition on Alcatraz Island, which raised $89,000—the bulk of it from just seven donors who pledged $10,000 each for tickets to the pre-opening

party. Other projects receiving high donations included many from the Burning Man festival, which has a passionate and Web-savvy community to help things along. Again, for many public artists, especially those working on social practice, that kind of passionate engagement with the public is precisely the point. And given that, interactive sites like Kickstarter begin to give form to a new kind of public interaction. As Mallory Nezam points out in another article in this issue (see page 82), social media functions quite a bit like a public space—so what kind of public art should occupy that space? “There is a whole other dimension to the experience,” Glassman says. “The social fabric as a raw canvas and the public interface as medium.” Whether online crowdfunding continues to grow or not, it serves as a model—messy, anarchic, visually driven, and very clever—for one new face of public art funding. At the end of the day, says Glassman, “You have to connect directly with the people and meet eye to eye and heart to heart—and the money follows. You pay for your passions and you get the money any way you can to do your work.”

JOE HART is senior editor of Public Art Review.

BOTTOM: Photo by Doug vanderHoof. TOP: Image courtesy the artist.



Title: Artist: Location: Budget: Source:

Common Funding Mechanisms

Civic public art programs Located in city/municipal government, with budgets that can include city monies as well as percent-for-art programs (where a percentage of the budget is set aside for public artworks, sometimes administered by a civic art commission) and public-private joint ventures.

Self-funding Includes a broad range of fundraising, such as sales of artworks and sketches, as well as out-ofpocket budgets for small public projects. Re-granting Nonprofits are allowed to receive foundation support and then re-grant it to individual artists.

Foundations and grants Private philanthropy or public granting agency Public works / community service oversees a budget and commissions artworks. Graffiti abatement funds are used to support public art that helps deter more graffiti. Institutions (hospitals, universities) Administered internally by committee, sometimes Taxes and fees jointly with nonprofit arts organizations. Can Cities are using taxes and fees on billboards, include percent-for-art programs as well as license plates, hotels/motels, and even golf. internal budgets. There is also a check box on some tax returns. Corporations Administered by committee or, frequently, by one person in the organization. Budgets are often tied to larger for-profit aims such as public relations, or to workplace quality-of-life mandates.

Event-based Meals, auctions (online and in-person), concerts, and other events are hosted. Admission fees pay for dinner and help fund crowd-selected projects. Bartering and trading Art or other things are exchanged for more art, between artists or other participants.

Crowdfunding Managed through websites like Kickstarter by the artist and staff. Usually requires some kind of reward or payback for donations. Products Proceeds from postage stamps and other products. —J.H.


Some of the ways public art gets paid for




Stories from Yangon 29th Street Serenade (And Other Love Songs) reflects democratic reform in Burma BY ROGER COLOMBIK

Photo © Roger Colombik 2014.


As Burma slowly transitions toward genuine democratic reforms in the judiciary and executive branches of government, artists and journalists have become litmus tests for the changes occurring in society. While subtle and sometimes not so subtle forms of censorship continue to plague print media, visual artists have seen their opportunities open up considerably. In the fall of 2013, I traveled to Burma to understand how visual artists address these new social realities through their personal works and community development programs. At the invitation of Aye Ko, founder and executive director of New Zero Art Space in Yangon, I settled into the residency center, which features a gallery, living space, and an extensive library centered on Asian contemporary art. Most importantly, New Zero functions as a nexus for free art courses and cultural events. Aye Ko is a critically renowned performance artist and curator who works on projects throughout Asia and Europe and is determined to estab-

lish a new paradigm for contemporary Burmese art and education. “I began New Zero Art Space to help build a community for contemporary art for the new generations of Burmese artists,” he explains. “I want these young artists to become an integral and connected part of the international art scene. It’s not going to happen for my generation. This is for them.” THE ARTISTS

I was graciously welcomed into the New Zero community and spent much of my time observing and listening. This is a community that does not allow itself to be consumed by the difficulties and absurdities of daily life in Burma. The artists who gather here

ABOVE: Transparencies from the 2014 installation of 29th St. Serenade (And Other Love Songs) taped onto the framework of the windows at the Joanne Cole Mitte Building at Texas State University in San Marcos.




Photos © Roger Colombik 2014.


ABOVE: Soe Than (right), student coordinator at Stamford-City Business Institute, in discussion with master jeweler Hla Kying. Hla Kying is 85 years old and trained his daughter to be a jeweler, the only means for a woman to enter the trade. RIGHT: Portrait of Satt Aung TT, artist and musician, standing in front of his painting at New Zero Art Space, Yangon, where his works are often featured. OPPOSITE: Yadanar, artist at New Zero Art Space in discussion with Daw Myint.





With this emphasis on community engagement, I proposed a collaborative social practice project to investigate issues on transitioning to a civil society. I selected 29th Street as the focal point for its three

very distinct sections of Upper, Middle, and Lower. The splendor of Burma’s multiethnic social fabric is ever present here, and many people seemed to welcome an opportunity for robust dialogue. Artists from New Zero set things in motion by introducing me to merchants and residents. I realized an additional team would be necessary for undertaking an immersive oral history of the neighborhood, and my lecture to a civics class at Stamford-City Business Institute provided a ripe opportunity for recruitment. A number of students enthusiastically volunteered, and the 29th Street Collective was born. We took to the streets to undertake 29th Street Serenade (And Other Love Songs) the following day with my simple instructions: Engage anyone who interests you; never bring up politics or religion unless the interviewee mentions it first; stay casual. Fortunately, most everyone wanted to talk about politics, religion, and the government. Street vendors, coolies, publishers, barbers, sailors, repairmen, jewelers, cooks, healers, Muslims, and Buddhists filled our days with tales and imagery. We received blessings of poetry and multigenerational family sagas. Together, we discovered a highly diverse group of citizens who believe in unity and are optimistic that life will change soon, for the better, for everyone. Laughter was plentiful. Outside the Cholia Darga Mosque, one person, Kyaw Lwin, captured the sense of community: “People are in unity here on the street, Chinese, Indian, Burmese. We have no conflicts here and I hold this unity, this bond in my heart. We are here to live peacefully. This street is like a family.”


are too busy making art, conducting workshops, and planning for a future where kindness, education, and community outreach will be the esprit de corps. Most of the individuals I spoke with were new to the arts. They had discovered New Zero, attended a workshop, seen the possibilities, and adopted an artist nom de guerre for their new life in the arts. Among them was Haymann Oo, who first came to the program as an attendee in a series of curatorial workshops. She is now the director of community programs and education for New Zero. Another, Yadanar, is an English teacher and performance artist with a passion for social change. “In my generation, the women have boundaries, both self-imposed and social structures,” she says. “I would like to work with women who are in trouble, who are in difficult circumstances: prison, mental health, and human trafficking. I had a delightful, normal childhood but I eventually realized a sense of being closed in. I see this so clearly when I speak with women. There is a sense of potential not even conceived, of women living within the artificial boundaries of society.” The transformative power of New Zero demonstrates the truth, as expressed by one of the artists, Thyitar: “Suu Kyi cannot change my life. I have to change my life. In our society, too many people are afraid of this responsibility.”



ABOVE: U Khin Thein Tun lifts the 29th Street Serenade manifesto up to his balcony with the rope system that enables people on the street to contact residents in the upper-floor apartments. RIGHT: This 29th Street Serenade (And Other Love Songs) detail features Rukiya, a street merchant, as well as digital scans of responses students provided when asked about personal responsibility for developing a civil society.



This wealth of material necessitated a decompression period to process and investigate how to transpose the experiences into a visually dramatic public context, both at home and abroad (eventually we’d like to bring the work back to Burma). With that in mind, I outlined a series of goals for presenting 29th Street Serenade (And Other Love Songs) with an emphasis on low-cost and low-tech materials and processes, adaptability to diverse studio circumstances, ease of shipping, and ease of installation. A fascination with light boxes became the point of departure. So the work was first installed in the large, west-facing windows of the Joann Cole Mitte building at Texas State University in San Marcos. The concept entailed having natural light illuminate the work inside the building during daylight hours. At night, lights

from inside the building project the imagery outward toward the street. The interior architecture allowed for a dramatic first encounter looking up from the first-floor landing. Ascending the stairs to the second floor delivered the viewer directly in front of the installation. Materials include legal-size transparencies run through a laser printer and mounted to large sheets of tracing paper. Each section of the installation is approximately four by six feet and contains roughly 60 transparencies. Digital formatting was the devil in the details. The textual content is from the interviews and student responses to a questionnaire regarding personal responsibility for a civil society. Sections are laid on top of one another, rolled, and transported in a tube. I am indebted to Aye Ko, the artists at New Zero, students from Stamford-City Business Institute, project coordinator Soe Than, Meagan and Chase Henry, Texas State University, and the people of 29th Street, especially Daw Si Si Mar, a charcoal vendor, who elegantly stated her case: “I do the work that men refuse to do. They all want charcoal to cook with but they think it’s beneath their dignity to dirty their body like this. Look at my hands. They are more than beautiful. They support a family.”

ROGER COLOMBIK lives in the Texas Hill Country with his wife and artistic collaborator Jerolyn. He explores issues of cultural identity in developing societies and composes sculptural environments in an attempt to soften the flight of time.

Photos © Roger Colombik 2014.


Apartment buildings along 29th Street feature a classic method of communication and delivery services. Balconies have ropes tied with bells that hang down to street level. A tug on the rope announces your arrival. Household deliveries are hauled up one bag at a time. We used this system as a means of contacting residents on the upper floors of apartments. We drafted a manifesto in Burmese, clipped a copy to a rope, and sent it skyward. We watched with amusement as people read the treatise, looked down upon our merry troupe and waved us upstairs. This is how we met The Healer, who told us, “Everyone comes to me with their belief and I heal them all. There is no discrimination. I heal Buddhists, Muslims, Christians, Hindus. Everyone is welcome. We are all human.”




Meet Virginia Longevity and creativity make Arlington’s public art collection notable

Photo by Mikhail Bezruchko, © J.J. McCracken, courtesy CONNERSMITH.

BY JON SPAYDE ARLINGTON, VIRGINIA, IS AN ANOMALOUS CIT Y —in fact, it’s not a city at all. It’s a county that acts like a city, with constituent communities—Rosslyn, Nauck, Shirlington, and others—that are neighborhoods rather than towns. It’s home to our greatest military cemetery, but it lacks the major historic architecture and center-ofthe-political-universe charisma of its neighbor across the Potomac. What it does have is lots of high-quality public art, with a core of some 60 permanent pieces by artists like Ned Kahn and Richard Deutsch. (Deutsch once told a reporter that he considers Arlington to be “really at the top of the list along with San Francisco, Chicago, [and] San Jose” as a public art community.) Its public art program thrives because of its strong connections with government, private developers, and major artists locally and around the country, as well as a funding structure that emphasizes partnerships with the private sector over the use of public monies. And then there’s continuity: The director of Arlington Public Art (APA) has been at the helm since 1998, cultivating all of these

relationships and working to strengthen and consolidate a program that began in 1984. Angela Adams and her colleagues are also charged with keeping this well-established program growing conceptually and artistically, through a constant effort to give artists as much control over projects as possible while also finding ways to incorporate newer approaches like temporary installations, public-practice strategies, and site activation. The initial impetus for public art in Arlington was a remarkable work commissioned in 1979 and completed in 1984, one that was at least partially prophetic of the way the county’s relationship with art would evolve: Dark Star Park, by New Mexico–based artist Nancy Holt. It’s a green space whose central element is an arrangement of big spheres and rods. “Shadows” of the sculptural elements are inset into the ground. But there’s only one day, hour, and minute all The Still Point (2013) by J.J. McCracken was performed in Nancy Holt’s Dark Star Park in Arlington, Va. The park was completed in 1984, the year Arlington Public Art began. It inspired the city to include artists on design teams.




year when the actual shadows and the constructed ones coincide: 9:32 am on August 1—the day, in 1860, when William Henry Ross acquired the land that became Rosslyn. Dark Star Day has become an annual local holiday, with crowds jamming the park to watch the shadow convergence. The project began when a citizen volunteer on the county’s planning commission decided that the Rosslyn neighborhood needed public art. An art-loving developer donated a portion of a property to the county as a park, and with the help of an NEA grant, Holt was hired to create the work for it. “This was the era when artists were thinking about land and space in a very broad way,” says Adams, “and Nancy said, ‘Why don’t you let me create the whole park?’ What this tripped off was the idea of artists on design teams helping Arlington design, in an integrated way, other county facilities.” It also set the precedent for Arlington Public Art’s close relationship with developers. The county’s Public Art Policy (2000) and Public Art Master Plan (2004) laid out a unique funding structure for APA. In place of the traditional one-percent scheme, there’s a dedicated public art fund. The county makes modest contributions to the fund, but the bulk of it comes from private developers, who have the choice of contributing to it as a part of the site-plan approval process, or of commissioning and funding public art on their own initiative, with the aid of APA. (Grants from local and national funders also contribute to individual projects or the fund.

APA can then combine contributions from more than one developer to fund a more ambitious county-initiated project than they might be able to back otherwise––although the project must be in the same neighborhood/community as the contributing developers’ projects. Working closely with county planners, APA concentrates its commissioning in corridors where there’s plenty of ongoing private development, like the high-rise Rosslyn-Ballston corridor, Columbia Pike in the southern part of the county, and the Jefferson Davis Highway (US 1) in the east. For Adams, working closely with county planners and private developers in ways that integrate art and infrastructure has become second nature. There can be occasional glitches, she says, such as when official lowest-bidder policies result in the choice of builders or contractors who aren’t up to the standard of execution needed for projects. But on a daily basis, she adds, “we try to stay in dialogue with the other agencies in the county and with our local developers’ association. We listen to them. It’s a small enough community that you see the same faces again and again, and there are long-term relationships.” It helps, too, that Arlington is a basically prosperous, well-educated community where public-private partnerships are well established in many areas and “planning is the basic lingua franca,” she says. Yet Adams and her team are striving for a major unmet goal, one that they see as keeping the program both fresh and true to its roots.

Photo by Hoachlander-Davis Photography.


ON LOCATION “What we know is that we have design money and outreach money and money for something temporary, some elementary expression that can somehow be integrated into the final product. We want community engagement to inform that elementary expression of what’s ahead.” A proposed renovation of Courthouse Square that will take years between the completion of planning and execution, she says, will also spark “small, artful site activations that remind people of what’s to come.” These are all part of “many conversations we’ve had about how to integrate more social practice and community engagement,” says Aliza Schiff, another project manager and the third member of the APA team, “to make more room for that in what we do, while still dealing with the fact [that] our main emphasis is on improving the physical civic infrastructure of Arlington.” JON SPAYDE is a frequent contributor to Public Art Review.

OPPOSITE: Untitled (2007), a suspended sculpture by Kendall Buster, consists of an intricate metal framework over which greenhouse shade cloth has been stretched. BELOW: Echo (2012) by Richard Deutsch provides a modern interpretation of Arlington’s significant contribution to the history of communication. The concave elliptical parabolas carved into each monolith reflect and project sound, allowing words spoken into one stone to be heard by listeners at the other.


“We’ve yet to achieve again the benchmark that Nancy Holt set for us,” she says. “An artist being able to control the whole design of a project. The design lead is still usually a non-artist.” Adams feels she’s come close to her artist-led ideal in a couple of completed projects. Artist Jesús Moroles, for example, had a free hand in designing a portion of the plaza in front of the County Courthouse, the seat of Arlington’s government, giving it a primordial-feeling boulder-and-river treatment. Her best hope for taking the ideal to the next level, however, lies in Arlington’s biggest upcoming project, dubbed Nauck Town Square. Arlington received an Our Town grant to do a major work in Nauck, a historically African-American neighborhood. At press time, APA was finalizing its contract with Berkeley-based Walter Hood, whose credentials as both an artist and a landscape architect recommended him as design lead. “If we pull this off,” says Adams, “and I’m sure we will, it will basically be the first time since Nancy that we’ve found a way to get the artist at the top of the heap.” Nauck Town Square is also going to be something of a laboratory for APA’s future. The program, focused on large permanent projects, has done temporary ones too, ranging from small sculptures to dance performances, but the Our Town venture presents opportunities for further engagement with newer, less object-oriented public art ideas. “Despite the working title, we’re not sure yet if it will actually be a town square,” says Deirdre Ehlen, an APA project manager.


Photo by Jesse Snyder.





Revolutionary Art in the Digital Realm Artist activists use social media to build audience and provoke action

ON AUGUST 9, 2014, MICHAEL BROWN , an 18-year-old black male, was shot and killed by a white policeman in Ferguson, Missouri. Just over a month later, 43 male students from the Raúl Isidro Burgos Rural Teachers College of Ayotzinapa went missing in Iguala, Guerrero, Mexico. The students were later pronounced dead. Iguala’s mayor and his wife have been detained, and members of a drug gang have confessed to killing the young men. Massive protests erupted not only in these communities, but also around the world. Citizens in both communities distrust law enforcement and also the judicial process. In both cases, the protesters have drawn attention to the racial and ethnic dimensions of the killings: in Ferguson, a racially motivated shooting, and in Iguala, an attack against a lower class with indigenous roots. The anger and frustration surrounding the two incidents has also produced a wave of politically inspired art—and many artists

are using social media platforms to deepen the impact of their messages and make their creative causes more universal. At the same time, social media serves as a central hub that connects and bolsters artists and activists, while also enlisting participants in clear, defined actions. This phenomenon is not only a new iteration of public art as we know it, but also the evolution of a new artistic medium, ripe for social practice. Indeed, these artists are using social media platforms like Tumblr and Twitter as modalities of their artwork itself—not a gallery wall or promotional tool, but a creative medium, integral to the formation of the work itself. SOCIAL MEDIA AS SPARK AND SOURCE

Ferguson artists refer to social media as both a spark and a source for their work. They note the inherent democratic nature of a

Photo by Michael Kingsbaker.




ABOVE: Photo by Michael Kingsbaker. RIGHT, CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT: Photos by @stop1033, Vera Banks Bryan @VeraBryan48, @DSKinsel, and Rhonda @PinchOfCrazy.



OPPOSITE: Chalk drawings at Frontenac Plaza mall in St. Louis. ABOVE: A store employee washing away a chalk drawing at Frontenac Plaza mall in St. Louis. BELOW: #ChalkedUnarmed social media posts from around the United States.



84 ON LOCATION platform that is unregulated except by the collective hands of the people. “Social media has allowed for an unprecedented availability of information and decentralized organizing abilities in this movement,” says St. Louis artist Damon Davis. “It has also inspired much of the work I have done around the movement.” In one cartoon, for instance, he used the image of a gas canister that a protester had snapped and put up on a photo-sharing site. Some projects, such as #ChalkedUnarmed, initiated in August 2014, use social media to expand the geographic range of the artwork, which in turn brings attention to the pervasive nature of racial and ethnic violence. #ChalkedUnarmed urges everyday people, countrywide, to chalk an outline of a body on a public sidewalk and inscribe it with the name of a man or woman of color who was killed by police, as well as a location and date. Photos are then uploaded to social media feeds like Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook, and tagged with the hashtag so they can be easily searched and viewed. The photos—from all parts of the country— serve as both an inherent call to action and a stark, visual connection between communities suffering injustice.

Built into this project is an “open-source” approach to participation and a disregard for artistic hierarchy in favor of the democratic values of the protest movement. The hashtag, which is also the project’s name, is itself a call to action for viewers to participate and sense their own artistic interconnectedness. Participants around the country have heeded the call. In cases like this, social media becomes a tool that turns individuals into more than just audience members observing a piece of artwork: They become participants, artists, revolutionaries. Another project, Tributo a Los Desaparecidos/Tribute to the Disappeared, draws a clear connection between the events in Ferguson and in Ayotzinapa. A creation of New York artists Andrea Arroyo and Victoria Roberts, Tribute is a user-generated digital art quilt to “honor people who have disappeared in Mexico and around the world.” Arroyo views the fusion of social media and art as a means artists can use to increase their effectiveness and find common ground. She also uses social media to encourage the artistic and political involvement of artists and non-artists alike. Contributors to Tribute

Photo by Aaron McMullin.

ABOVE: Remembering Michael Brown, who was killed by police in Ferguson, Missouri.




Photos courtesy Victoria Gallo, Ilustradores con Ayotzinapa.

include “established artists, emerging artists, ‘non-professional’ artists, children, and seniors,” she says. Similarly, #IlustradoresConAyotzinapa (Illustrators with Ayotzinapa) is a Tumblr page with a collage-like appearance. The page is a homage to #TodosSomosAyotzinapa (All Are Ayotzinapa) and echoes #IAmMikeBrown—both are hashtag feeds to share protest pictures, street art, and other images relating to the two incidents. But in this case, the project invites illustrators to submit their own portraits of the young men. On these illustrations, most artists identify themselves by name and demand to know the whereabouts of the missing individual. This publicly displays an inextricable emotional link formed between artist and deceased. Each submission adds to a collective accusation of the state and perpetrators, and together they compose a visual representation of collective pain, demand for accountability, and resilience. The effect empowers viewer as well as participant. The #YaMeCanse (I Am Tired) movement in Mexico emerged from a video created by a group of artists, actors, and activists. Like the artists who contribute to #IllustradoresConAyotzinapa, the

makers of this video state their names (followed by “I am Mexican”) and give a clear call to action: “This is a new beginning,” the narrator says, “where we demand our government to fulfill their obligations.” Projects like these demonstrate the ways that artists are using the hyper-public, hyper-accessible space of digital media to build movements and spread ideas. This is a new public space, and from it emerges a new public art. Because the space itself (like all spaces) cannot avoid being political in nature, this highly democratic, people-driven realm is increasingly catalytic for social practice.

MALLORY NEZAM is a public artist and writer based in St. Louis, Missouri. Her recent writing on Ferguson has appeared in the Riverfront Times and The Mantle. She is also the founder of STL Improv Anywhere and The Poetree Project.


These images were part of Tribute to the Disappeared, a user-generated art quilt. LEFT: Yo, Bef, quiero saber dónde está Bernardo Flores Alcarez (I, Bef, would like to know where is Bernardo Flores Alcarez). RIGHT: Yo, Adolfo Serra, quiero saber dónde está Israel Caballero Sanchez (I, Adolfo Serra, would like to know where is Israel Caballero Sanchez).

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Publications and Reviews

A new survey of artworks emphasizes public art that disrupts and questions place

Public Art (Now): Out of Time, Out of Place Claire Doherty (ed.) London: Art / Books, April 2015

PLACEMAKING MAY BE a default strategy for many public art projects of the past several years, but what about art that, on its face, intends to do

the opposite? There is value in the disruption of place and time, and Claire Doherty’s survey of 42 remarkable public artworks in her book Public Art (Now) shows us why. Doherty observes public art’s ability to unsettle preconceived notions of an environment and to construct creative illusions. These qualities contribute to the belief that public art can serve an important role in social justice, and they open up the possibilities of what public art can be and how it can take place. Through Doherty’s survey, one can see the potential for public art to expose and respond to issues such as corporate interests taking over public spaces, challenges to the freedom of speech, and the invisibility of people who have been disenfranchised. The book’s projects, collectively curated by a group of public art producers from around the world, are organized into categories of different devices an artist may use to affect the audi-

ence’s perception of time and place, such as displacement, disorientation, and occupation. Each section concludes with a conversation with a public artist, including Theaster Gates, Heather and Ivan Morison, Susan Philipsz, Jonas Dahlberg, and Fernando Garcia-Dory. Public Art (Now)’s artworks includes temporary and long-term projects. All contribute to a new way of seeing, raise new questions, spark dialogues, and aim for a lasting impact. The combination of aesthetic integrity and social engagement elevates each of these works above the level of mass spectacle or instantly gratifying cultural activities. The outcomes—both artistic and social—even have the ability to inspire and engage the book’s readers, far away in space and in time from the artworks themselves. SHAUNA DEE is the information and communications coordinator at Forecast Public Art.

At 25,000 libraries and growing, the Little Free Library movement is an artful exchange of books and community BY JOE HART The Little Free Library Book Margaret Aldrich Minneapolis: Coffee House, 2015

ARTISTS AND ACTIVISTS LIKE TO talk about the “grassroots.” But the number of ideas and projects that are truly powered by a decentralized network of passionate, everyday people is surprisingly few. Most movements that claim to be grassroots are

driven, in fact, by centralized institutions that prescribe their agenda, language, and funding. This fact makes the phenomenon of Little Free Libraries all the more remarkable—and radical. Little Free Libraries (LFLs) are humble book-sharing boxes, often owner-built to resemble tiny buildings, that stand in a front yard and serve as an invitation to take a book and leave one for another reader. Built, stocked, and maintained entirely by volunteers (known as “stewards”), LFLs are truly by, of, and for the people. In this well-conceived and delightfully accessible volume, Margaret Aldrich traces the inception, staggering growth (from zero to 25,000 LFLs since 2010), and impact of the movement, which began in 2010. Todd Bol, who constructed the first one in Wisconsin, now directs a nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting would-be LFL stewards. It’s not a simple story, but Aldrich captures its idiosyncratic contours simply by telling the stories of stewards from around the world.

The remarkable proliferation of the libraries can be explained only partly by the basic appeal of the idea—readers sharing books they love. An equal factor is the allure of the artful wee structures themselves. Aldrich’s book includes photos that capture a charming variety that she rightly identifies as a form of public art. Stewards also remark on the sense of community that a Little Library inspires, as neighbors learn to share—in addition to books—stories, help, and meals. Finally, as with any truly grassroots phenomenon, each Little Library takes on a life of its own. One steward discovered this firsthand when she interrupted herself sneaking out at night to weed out the romance novels that had proliferated amongst her high-brow academic books. “I realized we were banning books! What was next, book burning?” this steward tells Aldrich. “The very essence of the Little Free Library philosophy is to promote a book-loving democracy.” JOE HART is senior editor of Public Art Review.


Little Library—Big Impact




New York City’s subway transit art represents a huge public art museum BY MEGAN GUERBER


New York’s Underground Art Museum: MTA Arts & Design Sandra Bloodworth and William Ayres New York: Monacelli, November 2014

THE GREAT HIVE OF NEW YORK CIT Y depends on its subway system to meet the transportation needs of its ever-expanding population. People from all walks of life—from stockbrokers to students, homeless to Helen Mirren—rely upon this underground “social equalizer,” which significantly affects the social health of the city. The public art commissioned for subway stations by MTA Arts & Design plays a big role in bettering New Yorkers’ commuter experience by converting the system’s dark concrete tunnels into a sprawling contemporary art museum.

Sandra Bloodworth and William Ayres’s New York’s Underground Art Museum: MTA Arts & Design celebrates the integral role of artists (including Sol LeWitt, Acconci Studio, and Xenobia Bailey, to name a few) in the design of New York’s public transit stations. This expanded edition improves on 2006’s Along the Way: MTA Arts for Transit by introducing several works completed since 2006 as well as current works in progress. In addition, a brief introduction offers a glimpse into the history and process of public art commissions by the MTA. Half art book, half travel book, New York’s Underground Art Museum offers 300 colorful images alongside short descriptions of the artworks depicted. By flipping through, one is able to learn not only about the artists, intentions, and materials behind these works, but also about New York’s diverse neighborhoods and history. The link between art, location, and community is stressed throughout. Often, MTA-commissioned artists work in collaboration with architects to combine function with thoughtful, aesthetically charged design. Limited to materials able to withstand hard use, the artists must also negotiate unique compromises between their studio practice and the demands of the space. Barbara Grygutis’s Bronx River View (located on an elevated platform in the Bronx) creates intimate metal niches from which to observe the Bronx River and Concrete Plant Park, while Francesco

Simeti’s Bensonhurst Gardens responds to the diversity of Brooklyn’s Bensonhurst neighborhood by depicting plants from China, Italy, Israel, and North America in a surreal, luscious landscape grown from heaps of dirt and garbage. Colorful images of such projects come together within New York’s Underground Art Museum to reveal a polished peek into the MTA’s extensive public art collection, one almost completely uninterrupted by pedestrians and grime. This view is a rare one, yet helpful for the commuters who often find themselves too busy to look.

M E G A N G U E R B E R is a writer and curator based in Brooklyn, New York.

Photo of porcelain tile wall drawing by Sol LeWitt courtesy the publisher.



Underground Aesthetics


A “whole-body” approach to urban planning is explored in this volume on urban acupuncture BY LAINE BERGESON book Public Space Acupuncture (Actar, 2014), the phrase “became a powerful abstract metaphor to evoke numerous images and mental associations representing an alternative way of understanding urban planning.” Urban acupuncture involves the treatment of the “urban skin”—a large, living membrane that includes public spaces—partly by improving circulation in this vital organ: bringing pedestrians back to public spaces that have lost their sheen, reinventing urban areas as more than just places to move through (in a car or on a bus, for example) and turning them instead into places to simply be in. The book offers readers an exhaustive look at nine public-space acupuncture interventions realized in eight different European cities in recent years. The book’s authors, Helena Casanova and Hernandez, separate the nine interventions into three categories: time-based strategies, citizen participation, and re-placemaking. This division allows readers and public-space stakeholders to explore and understand the interventions from the angle most relevant to their own situation or project. The case studies are then further broken down into subsections detailing each project’s strategy, type of intervention, and subsequent urban and social analysis. The case studies also include multiple photos and graphic/topographical illustrations and maps.

Public Space Acupuncture Helena Casanova and Jesus Hernandez Barcelona and New York: Actar, February 2015


FOR NEARLY AS LONG AS PEOPLE have been thinking, theorizing, and writing about cities, they have been comparing them to the human body. Cities come to life. They have hearts and arteries and tissue. They have a lifeblood; they can thrive; they can get sick; they can heal. Historically, many urban planners and architects took an allopathic approach to urban “sickness,” treating a problem by doing the equivalent of a wholesale organ replacement—demolishing a building or a whole block to construct new, curative buildings and structures. One of the last and most prominent examples of this approach was the demolition of the Pruitt-Igoe housing project in St. Louis in 1972. The structure was viewed almost as a cancerous tumor that needed to be removed for the city to survive. Architecture theorist Charles Jencks referred to its destruction as “the day Modern architecture died.” The late 1970s and early 1980s brought a new way of understanding, diagnosing, and treating urban illnesses. Urban theorists began to view cities as whole systems, connected and interdependent, much the way practitioners of Eastern medicine view the body. As a result, treatments for urban illness became more holistic, more integrated, more appreciative of the entire living organism. The approach was dubbed “urban acupuncture” and, writes Jesus Hernandez in the new


The Needle and the Damage Healed

“Despite the fact that, at the moment, these strategies are still in the pioneering stage,” writes Hernandez, “they share many common factors and could eventually constitute a new tool which municipal management bodies could use systemically. These initiatives might become a specific branch of urban planning in the future that would serve to complement traditional planning approaches.” The book is rich fodder for anyone interested in a whole-system approach to activating city life. At turns, it is helpful and dense, insightful if sometimes a bit academic. Ultimately, the book is a useful tool for anyone invested in the idea of transforming a city in this unique, big-picture way. LAINE BERGESON is a writer and editor in Minneapolis, Minnesota.



ARCHITECTURE LORADO TAFT: The Chicago Years Allen Stuart Weller; Robert G. La France and Henry Adams with Stephen P. Thomas, eds. Champaign, IL: University of Illinois Press, 2014

BEYOND ENVIRONMENT Emanuele Piccardo and Amit Wolf, eds. New York: Actar, 2014 During his travels through the American Midwest in the 1970s, Italian architect Gianni Pettena encased two Minneapolis buildings in ice and collaborated with Allan Kaprow and Robert Smithson. Emanuele Piccardo explores these projects and others to investigate the rich intersections of architecture, land art, and performance art. The book also features interviews and work by Gordon Matta-Clark and Superstudio, among others.

Continuing the account he began in Lorado in Paris, Allen Stuart Weller delves into the sculptor’s most productive period in this illustrated volume. While working at the Art Institute and the University of Chicago, Taft contributed to the City Beautiful movement and produced temporary and permanent works for the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition, the University of Illinois, and Chicago’s Midway.

WE WANT WORLD WONDERS: Building Architectural Myths Winy Maas and Tihamér Salij Amsterdam: The Why Factory and nai010 publishers, 2014

ROGER RIGORTH Roger Rigorth, ed., Bernd Weiss, Ingrid Haselberger, Kim Zimmermann, trans. Bielefeld, Germany: Kerber Verlag, and New York: D.A.P./Distributed Art Publishers, 2014 Sculptor and installation artist Roger Rigorth, born in Switzerland in 1965, uses natural materials including fiber, wood, and stone. His organic works engage with the landscape, incorporating movement and taking formal cues from animal architecture in an exploration of time, growth, and change. This new book features large color photographs of works dating from 1993 to 2013, accompanied by German/English texts. BOAZ VAADIA: Sculpture 1971–2012 Wendy Steiner, Ivan C. Karp, and Anthony Brown Easthampton, MA: Hudson Hills Press, 2012


Whether found in gallery, museum, or outdoor settings, Israeli-American sculptor Boaz Vaadia’s distinctive stacked-stone figures seem ancient and elemental. In his consideration of the human connection to nature, Vaadia has employed slate, shingle, bluestone, and boulders. This compendium highlights his material sensibility, with texts by the artist discussing his background, influences, and process. CALDER BY MATTER: Herbert Matter Photographs of Alexander Calder and His Work Alexander S. C. Rower, ed., with Jed Pearl and John T. Hill Paris: Cahiers d’Art, 2013 As a close friend of Alexander Calder, Herbert Matter was able to photograph Calder and his in-progress work in his studio and home. Illustrated with more than 300 photographs, many previously unpublished, dating from 1936 to 1950, Calder by Matter sheds new light on the sculptor’s process and working environment. The beautiful, mostly black-and-white images convey a clear sense of the scale and movement of Calder’s work. CHRISTO AND JEAN-CLAUDE: In/Out Studio Matthias Koddenberg, ed. Dortmund, Germany: Verlag Kettler, and New York: D.A.P./Distributed Art Publishers, 2014 Featuring more than 300 mostly unpublished drawings, collages, and archival photographs from as far back as 1949, Christo and Jean-Claude: In/Out Studio documents lesser-known works in addition to the duo’s acclaimed monumental projects. Studio photos and portraits, along with Matthias Koddenberg’s text, provide new insight into the artists’ process and relationship.

Taking existing world wonders as a starting point, the seventh book in The Why Factory’s Future Cities series, We Want World Wonders, compiles architecture students’ work to present a speculative “new atlas of wonders.” Richly illustrated and with concise descriptive text, these proposals reframe the present built environment as they imagine future developments.

URBAN PLANNING WE OWN THE CITY: Enabling Community Practice in Architecture and Urban Planning Francesca Miazzo and Tris Kee, eds. Amsterdam: Trancity/Valiz with CITIES and the University of Hong Kong, 2014 We Own the City encourages collaboration between architects, developers, institutions, and government across “bottom-up” and “top-down” planning approaches. Twenty illustrated case studies, four from each of five cities—Amsterdam, Hong Kong, Moscow, New York City, and Taipei—focus on the reconsideration of “top-down” processes, moving toward a people-driven practice with long-term value. Interviews with Dutch architects from OMA, MVRDV, UNStudio, and NEXT Architects provide additional perspectives. SUBPLOTS TO A CITY: Ten Years of In Certain Places Charles Quick, Elaine Speight, and Gerrie van Noord, eds. Preston, Lancashire, England: In Certain Places, 2014 In Certain Places is a program of multimedia interventions and events based at the University of Central Lancashire. Since 2003, the project has included artists, architects, and communities in and beyond the city of Preston, England. Presenting detailed visual and textual records of these activities along with interviews and essays, this volume examines the program’s continuing influence. GREEN ISLANDS IN THE CITY: 25 Ideas for Urban Gardens Kamel Louafi, ed. Berlin: Jovis Verlag GmbH, 2014 Reclaiming open, green space in cities has taken on new political significance in recent years. Kamel Louafi collects 25 German architects’ visions of their ideal urban gardens in this multilingual volume. With sketches and descriptive texts, the book presents a variety of imaginative landscape design approaches that remain united in purpose.


MISCELLANY PUBLIC ART: Kunst im öffentlichen Raum 2012–2013 Elisabeth Fiedler and Dirck Möllman, eds. Vienna: Verlag für Moderne Kunst, 2015

In the 1970s and 1980s, New York was host to a “golden age of graffiti” by artists such as Bil Rock, Breezer, Daze, Jon One, Kel, KR, Lady Pink, Sak, Sharp, Skeme, Spin, and Team—the twelve featured in this compendium. With panoramic photographs by Henry Chalfant, a producer of the 1983 documentary Style Wars, and first-person accounts captured by former graffiti artist Sacha Jenkins, Training Days opens a window onto the hidden practice of these artists—even including a glossary of terms.

This German/English book presents an in-depth survey of the projects of the Graz Institute for Art in Public Space Styria, Vienna, during the period from 2012 to 2013. A series of thematic texts address the power of public art to stimulate discussion of social issues. Historical information, maps, diagrams, and photographs help ground these ideas.

STREET CRAFT: Guerrilla Gardening, Yarnbombing, Light Graffiti, Street Sculpture and More Riikka Kuittinen New York: Thames & Hudson, 2015 Documenting a recent strain of street art that employs craft techniques, Riikka Kuittinen profiles 28 artists from around the world, including Tasha Lewis, Magda Sayeg, and Isaac Cordal, in Street Craft. Through illustrations of their colorful, sculptural work, accompanied by artist statements and descriptions of their practice, Kuittinen suggests that these artists are expanding the definition of street art. BANKSY IN NEW YORK Ray Mock New York: Carnage NYC, 2014

NEW SERIES CHICAGO SOCIAL PRACTICE HISTORY SERIES Mary Jane Jacob and Kate Zeller, series eds. Chicago: School of the Art Institute of Chicago, dist. by University of Chicago Press, 2014–2015 The Chicago Social Practice History Series joins a variety of recent exhibitions and public forums at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in an ongoing exploration of how art can change society. Four volumes have been published, with a fifth coming in August. Each draws from Chicago’s dynamic creative history, incorporating interviews and illustrations to consider the following contemporary and relevant themes:

This volume gathers the complete projects of artist Richard Saxton, municipalWORKSHOP, and the M12 Collective, as well as recent collaborations with other visual, musical, and literary artists. Organized with thematic and project-specific texts by a variety of contributors, the hefty volume documents often-underrepresented rural aesthetics and knowledge from around the world. STRANDBEEST: The Dream Machines of Theo Jansen Lena Herzog, Theo Jansen, and Lawrence Weschler Cologne, Germany: Taschen, 2015 Lena Herzog traces the evolution of Dutch artist Theo Jansen’s kinetic Strandbeests (“beach creatures”) over the past seven years. Using plastic tubing and bottles, Jansen has been developing their design to allow them to move—and survive—in the wind. Herzog’s gorgeous black-and-white photography captures the Strandbeests’ intricately engineered forms in this book, which accompanies a touring exhibition. ART-LED PARTICIPATIVE PROCESSES: Dialogue & Subjectivity within Performances in the Everyday Jay Koh Helsinki: Academy of Fine Arts, University of the Arts Helsinki, 2014 Jay Koh offers a model of art practice drawn from reflection on 24 years of his own work, based in four key concepts of dialogue, participation, construction of subjectivity, and performance in the everyday. ArtLed Participative Processes, a condensed version of Koh’s cross-disciplinary doctoral thesis at the Academy of Fine Arts, Helsinki, unfolds and analyzes this methodology.

ART AGAINST THE LAW Rebecca Zorach, ed. IMMERSIVE LIFE PRACTICES Daniel Tucker, ed. INSTITUTIONS AND IMAGINARIES Stephanie Smith, ed. A LIVED PRACTICE (coming August 2015) Mary Jane Jacob and Kate Zeller, eds. SUPPORT NETWORKS Abigail Satinsky, ed.



Chronicling British street artist Banksy’s New York “residency” in October of 2013, Ray Mock follows the events, interactions, and responses surrounding his work. Mock views Banksy’s work through cultural and art historical lenses, crafting a dynamic personal narrative that is both critical and appreciative. This limited edition book boasts a screen-printed cover and more than 120 images.

A DECADE OF COUNTRY HITS: Art on the Rural Frontier Margo Handwerker and Richard Saxton, eds. Heijningen, the Netherlands: Jap Sam Books, 2014


TRAINING DAYS: The Subway Artists Then and Now Henry Chalfant and Sacha Jenkins New York: Thames & Hudson, 2014




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Minneapolis College of Art and Design 87

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A Norwegian public art project locks away book manuscripts for the next century BY JEN DOLEN CONCEPTUAL ART OFTEN FLIRTS with the concept of legacy. Artists like Stephen Kaltenbach and Andy Warhol made frequent use of artful time capsules to question the unpredictability of the future and the meaning (or meaninglessness) of everyday life. While standard time capsules cradle fragile newspaper clippings or quirky kitsch, artists’ might outline obscure time-based instructions and celebrate existence itself, rather than objects. These timepieces turn attention toward death, the unknown, and the scope of human life spans. Like time capsules, libraries collect and protect information, but with the purpose of providing access to ideas. Scottish artist Katie Paterson twists the two concepts together in her recent work, Future Library. Future Library enlists 100 writers to create manuscripts that will be locked away unread for 100 years, then printed on paper harvested from 1,000 trees that were planted last year for this purpose. Paterson’s Future Library (or Framtidsbiblioteket), begun in 2014, is a public art project commissioned by the Bjørvika Utvikling neighborhood in Oslo, Norway. The artist and volunteers planted the 1,000 trees in the Nordmarka forest, beginning a project that no one alive now will likely live to see finished. Each year, a panel on the Future Library Trust will select a new writer to contribute a manuscript. Each decade, a new trust will form to ensure the project’s completion.

The unpublished texts will be archived in a room designed by Paterson within Oslo’s new Deichmanske Public Library, which opens in 2018. Lined with wood from the trees that were cleared to plant the Future Library forest, this room will allow visitors to view author names and titles, but not the manuscripts. Interested readers may purchase a limited-edition certificate entitling the owner to a complete set of the anthology, printed on the paper made from the mature trees when they are cut down in 2114. The inaugural writer, Margaret Atwood, is slated to hand over her text at the end of May 2015—the first in a series of works to remain unread by most of us alive today. The future holds people who will read them, however. As the saplings reach toward the sky, chosen writers will record a legacy of words. What story might they tell the next century? Longevity in public art has a new precedent. JEN DOLEN is a photographer and writer based in Minneapolis/St. Paul, and is an editorial assistant for Public Art Review.

Artist Katie Paterson at the Future Library forest site in Nordmarka, Norway.

Photo © MJC. Commissioned by Bjorvika Utvikling and produced by Situations.


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