Public Art Review issue 53 - 2015 (fall/winter)

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Project: “Hippocrates“ - University Hospital, San Antonio, Texas - Artist: Martin Donlin Technique: Hand painted enameled glass, 30 feet high x 15 feet wide, 18 glass panels 35 inches diameter, 14 panels 14 inch diameter

GLASMALEREI PETERS STUDIOS Glasmalerei Peters GmbH Am Hilligenbusch 23 - 27 33098 Paderborn Germany fon: (0049) 52 51 - 160 97 0 email:

Representaive USA Peter Kaufmann 3168 SE 69th Avenue Portland, OR 97206 mobile: (00)1.503.781.7223 email:

Public Art Review Issue 53 • Fall/Winter 2015 • Volume 27 • Number 1

FEATURES 36 Northern Regeneration Norway’s big investment in public art


48 A Shift Toward Trust Interview with Indian artist Jasmeen Patheja


54 Bending the Arc Together Profile of multidisciplinary artist Jennifer Wen Ma


60 Museums Go Public American museums shed their highbrow image


64 Reaching Out Two Scandinavian museums devoted to art in public


ON THE COVER British artist Sean Henry’s Walking Woman (2010) in Ekebergparken, a scupture and national heritage park that opened in Oslo in 2013. Learn more about recent public art developments in Norway on page 36. Photo © Ivar Kvaal / Ekebergparken. THIS PAGE SALT, an art and music festival pictured here in Norway, is circling the globe to call attention to the impact of climate change on the Arctic. See page 36. Photo by Martin Losvik.




Doug and Mike Starn “(Any) Body Oddly Propped“ Princeton University Art Museum

Franz Mayer of Munich |


| |

Public Art Review Issue 53 • Fall/Winter 2015 • Volume 27 • Number 1

TOP: Photo by Peter Greig / Kaldor Public Art Projects. MIDDLE: Photo by Steve Weinik. BOTTOM: Photo by Jeff Coffman (JefferyRayCoffman) / flickr / Creative Commons license.



News from the organization that publishes Public Art Review

11 PUBLISHER’S NOTE The Search for Cultural Intelligence


12 IN THE FIELD News, views, and ideas


12 Marina Abramovic: In Residence


16 An Island Reborn: $50 million budget for art


18 Object Lessons: K-12 public art curriculums


20 Placemaking Gets Deep: Q&A with Mark VanderSchaaf


23 Documenting Cultural Change: Film from Caracas


24 “Open Source” Philadelphia: 14 site-specific works


26 Opening Up Urban Space: Mirrored installations



Culture Worker: How Mankwe Ndosi uses sound



Heightened Perception: Carmen Papalia’s blind tours


32 In Remembrance: Chris Burden and Jackie Brookner


33 SOAP BOX Pacifying Publics: Art and “social cohesion”


70 ON LOCATION Global reports 24

70 Arabian Artscape: DANNA LORCH The United Arab Emirates’ nascent public art scene

76 Breathing Cathedral: In remembrance of the Dresden bombing


80 The Arch Turns 50: New grounds show off modernist masterpiece


86 BOOKS Publications and reviews JEN DOLEN




96 LAST PAGE Ritual River: Manav Gupta in New Delhi


Public Art Review ISSUE 53 • FALL/WINTER 2015 • VOLUME 27 • NUMBER 1

PUBLISHER. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Jack Becker EXECUTIVE EDITOR. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Karen Olson SENIOR EDITOR . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Joseph Hart ASSOCIATE EDITOR. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Jacqueline White COPY EDITOR. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Loma Huh EDITORIAL ASSISTANTS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Jen Dolen

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RARE: RICHFIELD ARTIST RESIDENT ENGAGEMENT This year, Forecast launched an artist residency in Richfield, Minnesota’s new town square, Lyndale Gardens, designed by The Cornerstone Group. Artists Witt Siasoco and Emily Johnson are now working in the community with an eye toward building a model for what an ongoing artist residency would look like in Lyndale Gardens. Siasoco silkscreened large-scale portraits of residents that were displayed at Lyndale Gardens throughout September. Meanwhile, Johnson and fellow Catalyst member Julia Bither have been gathering input and ideas from Richfield residents about what they hope for and want for their community. Read more at ABOVE LEFT: Artists Jess Bergman Tank and Klara Wagnild did a public iron pour for a geocaching project in St. Paul with funds from a 2015 Making It Public grant. ABOVE RIGHT: Heather M. Cole installed the community-created lanterns of Bright Idea in St. Paul with a Making It Public grant.

THE 8030 PROJECT Artist Mara Pelecis recently curated the first large-scale installation of The 8030 Project at the Hennepin County Government Center. Mara collected images from the public memorializing the estimated 22 veterans and soldiers lost to suicide each day. The diverse submissions from the public are shared online and in the exhibit, creating conversation and raising awareness about this tragic statistic. Forecast supports the Hennepin County Multicultural Arts Committee by organizing an annual installation in the Hennepin Gallery. Read more at MAKING IT PUBLIC GRANTS Forecast awarded its 2015 Making It Public grants to Mayumi Amada, Carolina Borja, Heather M. Cole, and Jess Bergman Tank and Klara Wagnild. Grants were awarded from a pool of nearly $9,000 for new temporary public art projects at the culmination of a five-part series of workshops for artists new to

the field of public art. Awarded projects were implemented throughout St. Paul’s Lowertown neighborhood during summer and fall 2015. The second annual Making It Public series was made possible through support from the Lowertown Future Fund. Read more at PUBLIC ART SCRAMBLER: CONSERVATION In September, Forecast hosted its quarterly Public Art Scrambler, an event for public artists and professionals to discuss public art issues in depth, and learn from and connect with a community of experts. This Scrambler delved into the topic of conservation with Twin Cities public art conservators Kristin Cheronis and Laura Kubick. We discussed what should be considered during public art planning to ensure that future maintenance is feasible and affordable, as well as conservation issues that arise after installation and how they can be resolved. The group toured Minneapolis public art pieces to learn about a variety of conservation issues.

Photos by John Pocklington.



FORECAST NEWS What we’re up to



In addition to publishing Public Art Review, Forecast Public Art: • O ffers a wide range of expertise to communities OPENSPACE/OPENBAR Public art exists at the intersection of many different perspectives, voices, and histories. It holds the potential to bring people together, foster a sense of community, establish physical gathering spaces, or serve as an iconic image for a place. But the nature of public art also places it in the midst of current debates and in the middle of the complex process of creating shared public space. In June, in response to the emergence of public art in recent protests around the country, Forecast held an OpenSpace/OpenBar to explore public art in the context of social tension—from its ability to bring people together to its role in unsettling us. Read more at

seeking help with planning public art projects throughout the region. • S upports 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. • Offers many resources for artists, organizations, and community members to learn more about public art.

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


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Through the eyes of artist Edith Waddell

Visit and Go Metro to Glendale.

15-0127eb ©2014 LACMTA

Local heritage, from the Brand Library to the Doctor’s House Museum, is artfully interlaced with elements of the city’s rich culture and vibrant history .

Metro congratulates artists for contributions to the award-winning Through the Eyes of Artists poster series Metro Neighborhood Poster Series (4 of 33 total) Artist posters convey the distinctive character and vitality of neighborhoods and destinations served by the Metro network and are displayed throughout the bus fleet and rail system. Notecards featuring the poster artworks are available through the online Metro Store at

Left to right, top to bottom: Christine Nguyen, Edith Waddell, Aaron Rivera, William Acedo

16-0477DW ©2015 LACMTA

Affirming that art can make the transit experience more inviting and meaningful for public life, Metro commissions artists for a wide array of projects throughout Los Angeles County. To find out more or to add your name to our database for new art opportunities, call 213.922.4ART or visit


The Search for Cultural Intelligence How artists and artful places shape the very notion of who we are BY JACK BECKER AMIDST ALL THE TALK about creative place-

JACK BECKER is the executive director of Forecast Public Art, a

nonprofit based in St. Paul, Minnesota, and publisher of Public Art Review.


sat in were designed by someone, and that we could become that someone. In fact, it wasn’t until after college that I realized artmaking could be completely divorced from the capitalist system, and that artists didn’t have to focus on making things to sell in the marketplace. They could use their creativity in many other ways that give meaning, improve communal well-being, and inspire others to explore their own creativity. How liberating! In other words, artists—whether confrontational or subliminal, object- or process-oriented—invite us to contemplate our shared humanity and take stock of our values. By disrupting our assumptions about “reality,” artworks and art activities help us question, reaffirm, or discard those assumptions. Artists help us cohabitate and develop shared experiences, forge social structures and human relationships. I’m certain our brain’s neural networks fire differently when we’re confronted by art, perhaps triggered by the non-utilitarian nature of art; it doesn’t have to do anything, it just is. I also believe that we share thinking; our brains don’t just work individually. So in light of this, why does an artful place matter? In my thinking, the answer lies in the interplay between our built environment and how we engage within it—recognizing that public space is part of a larger fabric. Places matter because they offer ways for us to move, to share an environment, and to form new neural connections. Artfully developed and managed places maximize on these potentials. How people remember space and place is directly related to their movements, interactions, and experiences; art and design can play a significant role in shaping and guiding those experiences. As we navigate the gray area between public and private—mindful of the possibilities artists and art can bring to the equation—opportunities to turn passive spaces into active places become evident. It’s not hard to imagine the parallels between the importance of movement for the development of biological intelligence and movements that shift paradigms and value systems. I would argue that the health of our cultural intelligence depends on such intentional efforts. I yearn for a forward-thinking cultural movement that changes the way we practice education, the way we value human creativity and playfulness, and the way we make better cities.


making—how to do it, who should do it, how to measure it—we seldom step back to ask the fundamental question of why “place” matters. The question is one I’ve been pondering since I spent four intensive days in presentations, dialogues, tours, and workshops at the second International Award for Public Art event, this time in Auckland, New Zealand. In particular, I was struck by guest keynote speaker Bruce Sheridan, a writer, filmmaker, and chair of the Cinema Art and Science department at Columbia College Chicago, who wrapped up the gathering with a talk about human brain development. Four elements of his talk changed the way I think about the effect of art in public spaces on us as human beings. For starters, he urged us to stop thinking of artists as separate from others, and to consider the common ground we share as human beings—how we develop the ability to learn and absorb knowledge, think for ourselves, and express ourselves. We all have the ability to improvise, make creative choices, and combine concepts that never were combined before. We all require nurturing at an early age to develop social skills, navigate landscapes, and become independent adults. The second revelation Sheridan shared is how our brains, at the early stages, are dependent upon physical movement in order to fully develop. Without motion—our moving around and the world moving around us—we would never have become intelligent beings. If we never crawled across a floor or moved through space, our brains would never have made synaptic connections that allow for cognition as we know it to develop. Perhaps Descartes’ theory “I think, therefore I am,” could be expanded to “I move, therefore I think, therefore I am.” Sheridan then explained his interest in improvisation and collaboration, and posed several thought-provoking questions: How might collaborative creativity in urban placemaking catalyze creative practice in the audience? In what ways can education, public art making, and urban development directly influence each other, and could that convergence impact how we educate for creativity? Lastly, Sheridan made me think about the difficulty of the word art, and especially how our flawed educational system reinforces the misguided stereotypes about art and artists. During my own education, I learned that Art (with a capital A) is deeply intellectual and expensive and museums are exclusive places. Artists are special people who can draw things that look realistic. I never learned about the innate creativity we all possess, that our school building and our classroom and the chairs we

IN THE FIELD News, Views, and Ideas


Marina Abramovic: In Residence The famous performance artist includes participants in her recent Sydney Project BY LAINE BERGESON

Marina Abramovic has been providing audiences with experiences that originated outside their bodies—movements and sounds and ideas that poured forth from her and washed over them. Those works have been transformative, and recognized as such. She was awarded Best Artist at the 1997 Venice Biennale and ranked as one of Time magazine’s 100 most influential people of 2014. More recently, her work has evolved to include the audience as participant. A newer work staged in London, called 512 Hours, asked the public to become the performers while Abramovic blended into the background. This year Abramovic took public participation to a newer, deeper level in Sydney, Australia, where she staged Marina Abramovic: In Residence, a 12-day installation on a public pier,

as Project 30 of the Kaldor Public Art Projects. The project asked audience members and other artists to participate in different types of meditative and ritual practices as a way to better know themselves and their internal landscapes. “My function in this new kind of performance situation is to show you, through the Abramovic Method, what you can do for yourself,” writes the Serbian native, who now resides in New York City. “I wanted to make this big change because I understood that actually you can’t get any experience by me doing it for you… So I’m completely shifting the paradigm, changing the rules.” Project 30 involved several different participatory exchanges. For each one, participants were stripped of their phones, watches, and cameras and asked to wear noise-cancelling headphones.


IN THE COURSE OF HER 40-YEAR CAREER as a performance artist,

LAINE BERGESON is a writer and editor in Minneapolis.


THIS PAGE: Photo by Peter Greig / Kaldor Public Art Projects. OPPOSITE PAGE: Photo © Ivar Kvaal / Ekebergparken.

IN THE FIELD OPPOSITE: A portrait of Marina Abramovic at Ekebergparken in Oslo, Norway. ABOVE: For the exchange called “Beds” in Sydney, Abramovic invited participants “to do nothing but rest and reflect on the very idea of ‘nothingness.’” The piece, part of Project 30, is meant to capture many feelings and emotions: the intimacy of watching someone sleep, the vulnerability of sleeping in public, the activity of the resting brain, and immateriality and transfer of energy between audience and artist.




In “Looking at Colour,” Abramovic asked Project 30 participants to sit and stare at solid-color squares. The action is meant to call to mind fixed-gaze meditation practice, and to clear away distractions and improve self-awareness. The different color squares are intended to evoke different feelings within each observer.

IN THE FIELD For “Mutual Gaze,” participants sat directly across from each other and stared into each other’s eyes, forcing themselves to see and be seen in the present moment.



By being instructed to walk slowly and deliberately, participants were forced to take an automatic, everyday movement and make it conscious. “Slow Walk” was intended to increase self-awareness, but also to highlight how luxurious it can feel to pause and walk with intention as we hurry through our busy lives.


Photos by Peter Greig / Kaldor Public Art Projects.


While separating a pile of rice and lentils—and counting the kernels as they sorted—participants in “Counting Rice” engaged in a calming, repetitive task that forced them to stay focused on the here and now.




Public art stands to play a vital placemaking role in the $5 billion redevelopment of San Francisco’s Treasure Island BY JOE HART One man’s trash, runs the old saw, is another’s treasure. In the case of San Francisco’s Treasure Island, the “trash” consisted of some 500 acres’ worth of gravel and dredged sand dumped on a dangerous reef to create a site for the 1939 Golden Gate International Exposition. And the treasure? After decades of inaction, it appears to be on the horizon at last, in the form of an art-focused new neighborhood. When the exposition closed down, the island became first a U.S. military base and then a thorn in the side of city officials who tangled over what, if anything, should be done with this prime real estate just off the Bay Bridge. (Among the suggestions: a gambling casino and a mansion for the flamboyant then-mayor Willie Brown.) The military, which vacated it in 1997, left behind toxic and irradiated dirt, and not much else. Mold-plagued market-rate housing shared the land with the occasional movie crew. Today, after nearly two decades, the island is on its way to redevelopment—and public art plays a key role. San Francisco’s percent-for-art scheme means that a massive $50 million must be set aside for public artworks.

The redevelopment plan actually dates back to 2011, when San Francisco’s board of supervisors voted unanimously in favor of a plan to build an entire neighborhood, complete with retail, parks, and high-rise housing for nearly 20,000 people (in spite of opposition from environmental groups and some who claim that not enough low-income housing is included in the plan). The first phase of the project begins this fall, according to the San Francisco Chronicle, and with it, the first installment of the $50 million earmarked for artworks. Coming at a time when creative placemaking is a lively focus of the public art world, the development of an entire artful neighborhood is bound to be a proving ground. “It’s an unprecedented opportunity,” says Jill Manton, the director of the San Francisco Arts Commission’s Public Art Trust. “It is unique because we are developing a vision for an island-wide program as opposed to focusing on a specific building, park, or transit system.” It’s also a complicated picture. Led by the development corporation Lennar Urban, the Treasure Island Development Authority, and CMG Landscape Architecture, the project will ultimately

Image courtesy Treasure Island Community Development.


An Island Reborn



include dozens of design teams and contractors. A September visioning session brought together about 30 representatives from these groups, and public meetings will soon follow. The first phases of the development include demolishing existing structures and other preparatory steps, and Manton says some of the art budget will be used on what she calls “art activation” projects. “We see this transition period between the existing and the new as a time for bold, risk-taking and experimental artworks,” Manton says. Specific projects, she adds, will emerge from the public meeting process and be vetted and approved by


TOP: Image courtesy Treasure Island Community Development. BOTTOM: Photo courtesy Eric Cheng /

OPPOSITE: Treasure Island sits in San Francisco Bay halfway between San Francisco and Oakland, California. ABOVE: Redevelopment plans include housing and services for nearly 20,000 people. RIGHT: Buildings on Treasure Island today include these abandoned naval barracks.

the various stakeholders, but early concepts that she and her colleagues have tossed about include “an island-wide treasure hunt, a monumental temporary sculpture display, floatable artworks, photo documentation of the island through the lens of the artists currently living and working on the island, murals to be painted on buildings that are slated for future demolition, and artist-designed billboards leading up to the Bay Bridge.”

JOE HART is senior editor of Public Art Review, and is a writer,

editor, and musician living in rural Wisconsin.


Object Lessons Increasingly, K-12 educators are looking to public art to enrich learning across the curriculum BY JOE HART



students at one Minnesota school have a unique opportunity to display artworks to the entire neighborhood in an outdoor gallery. It’s called Connections Gallery, and it was conceived of and constructed by students at Roosevelt High School in Minneapolis, in collaboration with a neighborhood artist, Randy Walker, and Forecast Public Art. Both a sculpture and a display space for artwork, the public piece represents the possibilities of what K-12 public art curriculum can achieve. The Roosevelt project is not an isolated case. A growing number of educators, artists, and arts administrators are discovering that public art can serve a wide variety of educational purposes. “There’s burgeoning interest in this intersection of public art and education,” says Jeff Poulin, the arts education

program coordinator at Americans for the Arts, which recently hosted a discussion on the topic. Poulin sees three primary trends in the ways that schools are incorporating public art into their curriculum. One approach, like Connections Gallery, focuses on creative placemaking on the school grounds themselves. At Roosevelt, the outdoor sculpture-cum-gallery serves as a gathering place and special point of interest for students, as well as for the general public. Another approach involves taking schoolchildren out of the classroom and into the community to participate in public art projects. A good example is Raw Art Works (RAW), based in Lynn, Massachusetts, not far from Boston. It was formed in 1988 by Mary Flannery, an artist who worked extensively with inmates through art-based prison programs. In 1994 RAW


Photo by Candida Gonzalez.

IN THE FIELD Artist Randy Walker (right) collaborated with students at Minneapolis’s Roosevelt High School to create Connections Gallery on the school grounds.


Space was created to provide programs for underserved youth in grade, middle, and high school, with a focus on art therapy. But K-12 public art curriculum isn’t solely focused on the art-making practice. A third approach involves using the study of public art as an object lesson with relevance to subjects ranging from math to history. That’s what Michele Cohen did when tapped to found New York City’s Public Art for Public Schools, arguably the nation’s first and only public art commissioning program dedicated to a public school system. Few metro areas host as many public artworks as the nation’s art capital, New York City. In particular, NYC schools are sites of a vast collection that dates back a century or more and includes a number of notable New Deal works. By the 1980s, however, these works were in dire need of preservation, and thus was born the Public Art for Public Schools program, which was designed to inventory and preserve existing artworks, and to commission new ones under the city’s recently instituted percent-for-art program. But Cohen says she quickly grasped another imperative: to assist teachers and students in the interpretation and incorporation of artworks into the learning experience of their schools. “The whole concept was initially to protect existing art, which had never even been inventoried, and also to try to keep up with New York’s very aggressive construction program. We didn’t want contractors ripping apart the art collection,” says Cohen, who currently serves as an assistant curator at Washington D.C.’s Architect of the Capitol office. “But very early on I felt that this collection and the buildings themselves should be seen as an educational resource. One of my primary goals was to also try to develop those curriculum connections.” The outcome of this goal was a set of curriculum materials linking school artworks to related subject areas. Over the past five years, Public Art for Public Schools commissions have more than doubled with increased school construction projects. There are now nearly 2000 permanent artworks in New York City’s school system located throughout the five boroughs. New initiatives have been implemented under the program’s current director, Tania Duvergne, working directly with principals, faculty and PTA organizations to foster greater awareness of the public art in schools and broaden its usage as a creative learning tool in all classrooms. Currently, Poulin’s program at Americans for the Arts plans to launch a year-long initiative to provide a centralized data bank of curriculum, tools, and resources for artists and educators who want to incorporate public art in a school setting. “We’re in a position where we can see trends emerging and we want to make sure we’re providing the resources that people need,” he says. As a first step in the project, the organization sponsored a webinar dialogue and collected feedback from a variety of sources. One of the key issues that he’s observed in practice-based curriculum is the divide between the notions of educational and artistic excellence. “The education community is really looking at the experience, and they’re less concerned, generally, with the outcome,” he says. In one case, for example, a school created a public art mural


Photo courtesy Public Art for Public Schools.


Sarah Sze's Momentum and Its Conservation (2010) is installed at Mott Haven Educational Campus in Bronx, New York. Commissioned by Public Art for Public Schools in collaboration with New York City's Percent for Art program, it is part of the collection of the New York City Department of Education.

project involving students and artists through an after-school learning program. “In a matter of months, the mural was taken down,” says Poulin. “The artists were appalled, but the educators were fine with that.” In practical reality, such misunderstandings are not so different from what can happen with any other public art project: “It’s a matter of managing the expectations and outcomes ahead of time,” Poulin says. In spite of occasional faltering steps like this one, the relationship between public art and education is heading in the right direction, according to Kirstin Wiegmann, the program director at Forecast Public Art who partnered with Roosevelt High School on the Connections Gallery. It is featured as one of four in-depth educational case studies on Forecast’s website. “It’s a real opportunity for public artists and kids alike,” she says. “When a teacher and an artist can collaborate on a curriculum that results in a piece of public art, it involves all sorts of educational touchpoints: civics, science, technology, engineering, even poetry, and of course art literacy—all of these subject areas are just naturally built into the public art process.” JOE HART is senior editor of Public Art Review.


Placemaking Gets Deep Planner Mark VanderSchaaf encourages us to dig for the soul of a city BY JOE HART



Mark VanderSchaaf is regional planning director for the Twin Cities' Metropolitan Council in Minnesota.


What is the origin of the notion of “deep placemaking”? MARK VANDERSCHAAF: From my humanities background, I was

aware that up until really quite recently, people throughout the

world and throughout the ages have always thought of places as having personalities, and had the sense that the local deity or the local saint corresponded to the personality of the place. How has your thinking has been influenced by the work of the Dallas Institute? It was one of those eureka! moments when I discovered them. The Institute was founded by three psychologists on the premise that the city of Dallas has a personality that can be engaged. They said we should ask the question, what does the city want to be? Not what do we want the city to be—that’s a different question. What does the city want to be? To listen to this personality we call the city. It is an unusual question to the modern mind. But they said, well, let’s just play with this for a while and see what we can learn from it. What did they discover? They asked, where would we go to find out what the city wants to be? We can look at iconic landscapes. Dallas has a natural landscape underlying it, just like everywhere does. But we can also look at iconic elements of the built environment. They

Photo courtesy Mark VanderSchaaf.

TODAY’S CITIES COULD USE A LITTLE SOUL, says city planner Mark VanderSchaaf. For much of his nearly 12-year tenure as director of regional planning for the Metropolitan Council of the Minneapolis and St. Paul area, VanderSchaaf has been arguing for something he calls deep placemaking. Like the ancients, he believes that every city has a personality—and that planning efforts guided by its spirit will enjoy greater success. Inspired by the work of the late psychologist (and noted critic of psychology) James Hillman and the Dallas Institute of Humanities and Culture, which Hillman co-founded, VanderSchaaf began promoting his soulful approach in the early 1990s. Back then, the idea was an outlier. Today, he’s begun to find a broader audience for his ideas, and hopes to devote more time to the notion after his impending retirement. Public Art Review’s Joe Hart asked for an overview of his thinking.

IN THE FIELD ended up fastening their attention on the historic skyscraper in downtown Dallas, known as the Magnolia Building, which was the headquarters of the Mobil Oil Company. And if you know Mobil Oil, you know their symbol is Pegasus—the flying horse. Hmm, this could be really interesting. What if we explore the myth of Pegasus and ask, does this give us a clue as to what the city wants to be? The myth tells the story of this horse that just wants to keep flying off into the stratosphere, but if it can be brought down to earth, the waters of imagination will spring forth. And they said, boy, isn’t that a lot like Dallas? You know, we always have these inflated notions of ourselves, but if we could bring this imagination down to earth it could be really fruitful. So that was the insight they gained, and it guided the creation of Pegasus Plaza in the heart of downtown Dallas, as well as a major riverfront revitalization project. And you applied the same kind of exercise back in Minnesota, correct? What struck me was that we also had a historic skyscraper,

Terms Simplified Placemaking = Mixed land uses; incorporation of public spaces sensitive to user’s needs and aspirations; connectivity; high-quality, inviting design.

Creative Placemaking = Placemaking + Art and Culture

Deep Placemaking = Placemaking + Art and Culture + Personality

— Mark VanderSchaaf

almost exactly the same age as the one in Dallas: the First [National] Bank Building, which had a flashing neon sign on top as well, but it flashed “First” on and off. I began to reflect on that—you know, does that say something about the personality of St. Paul? St. Paul mayor Norm Coleman came in in 1994, and one of the centerpieces of his agenda was a riverfront redevelopment. The two things that struck me were, we were first a river city and then we turned our backs on the river, and now we’re trying to return to it again. And I was also struck by St. Paul being haunted by the fact that it was the first of the two Twin Cities, but then it lost out to Minneapolis and never regained its luster. I began doing reading on the history of the Upper Mississippi River Valley, since I knew the mayor wanted to do something with it. I discovered what seemed a remarkable coincidence to me: the story of the Grand Excursion of 1854.

Copyright: 2015 Chihuly Studio


Coral Glow Persian Sconce Wall (detail), 2015 Port Everglades CruiseTerminal 4 Blown glass, steel, 14½’ x 12½’


Ammonite Intervention by Lars Stanley w w w . f w p u b l i c a r t . or g

Remind us of that event. The year 1854 was when the first seamless railroad connection between the East Coast and the Mississippi River was completed. The nation was on the march from coast to coast, and reaching the Mississippi River was an important milestone. To celebrate, the builders of the railroad gathered together 1,200 dignitaries from the East Coast and invited them to take free passage to Chicago, where they would get on an excursion train to Rock Island, Illinois, where the railroad ended, and then ride a riverboat all the way up to the brand-new city of St. Paul, Minnesota, chartered one month before this excursion. So it was brand-new; there was no Minneapolis. I did a little bit of math: Ten years from 1994 will be 2004, which would be the 150th anniversary of the Grand Excursion of 1854. Why don’t we do another one of those? So the short version is we did do it. It took ten years to plan it. It turned out to be an incredible success. Fifty-five different communities along 400 miles of the river put on festivals and did various sorts of public art. You’ve given a couple examples of deep placemaking—this notion of discovering the soul or personality of a place. Can you help differentiate them from straight-on placemaking, or creative placemaking, where an artist helps guide the vision? They’re all three really good processes, and I really want to emphasize I don’t think one is better than another. But with each, there is a different methodology or approach. Standard placemaking is a process of putting together a budget and a schedule and a set of deliverables. It’s a little bit more of a recipe type of thing. There are some standard elements of basic placemaking: a mixture of uses, public spaces, connectivity for pedestrians, maybe transit as well. When you add artists into the mix, it becomes a little bit less certain exactly what you can deliver and when you can deliver it, because you are looking for imagination and inspiration to enter the project. When you get to the level of deep placemaking, it becomes even less certain what the deliverable is going to be, but on the positive side, it may turn out to be something really marvelous. The element of surprise is much more built into the deep placemaking process. Simply by asking the question, “What does this place want to be?” and exploring clues that might suggest an answer, good surprises will come along pretty quickly. When you begin to look more deeply into the natural history of a place—what are the patterns of birds and animal activity there? When you look into the actual human history of the place—what are the local legends or stories of haunted houses or what-have-you? These are things that might get neglected in a standard planning process, but they might reveal some really interesting buried treasure. That’s certainly what happened in both the Dallas case and in the Grand Excursion case. JOE HART is senior editor of Public Art Review.



LEFT: Photo by Eleanna Cadalso Vera. RIGHT: Film still from Shaping the Public courtesy Emergence Pictures.

TIUNA EL FUERTE CULTURAL PARK —a pop-up cultural park

created by Alejandro Haiek Coll and Eleanna Cadalso in Caracas, Venezuela—won the first International Award for Public Art (IAPA) in 2013. Now the park is the subject of a feature-length documentary planned by Minnesota filmmaker Dawn Mikkelson. Mikkelson first heard about the project from Jack Becker, executive director of Forecast Public Art and co-organizer of the Award initiative, and she says she was drawn to the project’s “vibrant individuals creating art that changes a community in real and lasting ways.” The park was developed on an abandoned parking lot back in 2006. The idea, according to its founders, was to create a hub for cultural and artistic events and youth programming, while increasing gathering space in the city. To keep costs low, the space was constructed with recycled shipping containers, which can be reconfigured and expanded in virtually endless combinations. Since its founding, the park has expanded and now includes classrooms, dining spaces, green spaces, a radio station, and a music-editing studio. The space is self-sustaining with resources and art created by residents and artists. The project is a good fit for Mikkelson’s passions. “I’ve become more and more interested in the intersection between the creation of art and true community impact,” says Mikkelson, who created a ten-minute trailer for the feature, which she’s titled Shaping the Public.

The trailer captures the eclectic and vibrant activities in the park, which is situated on the border of one of Caracas’s densely packed favelas, and reflects the hip-hop art scene of the city’s sprawling slums. Originally planned as a six-month intervention, the cultural space endures, according to architect and co-founder Alejandro Haiek Coll, in part because it is “a project born from real needs.” Since being awarded the prestigious IAPA, Tiuna El Fuerte Cultural Park has been designated as a cultural heritage site, preserving it forever from demolition. Mikkelson shot the trailer with a Venezuelan film crew, whom she directed via Skype from her office in Red Wing, Minnesota; the short also features music created by artists at Tiuna. “It’s a truly international production,” she says. She hopes the trailer will generate the funding needed to shoot the feature-length film. AMY DANIELSON is marketing and communications manager of

Forecast Public Art. WATCH THE TRAILER ONLINE AT PUBLICARTREVIEW.ORG. ABOVE LEFT: Tiuna El Fuerte Cultural Park in Caracas, Venezuela, was built from shipping containers. Part of the city’s thriving art scene, the park is the subject of a planned feature-length film. ABOVE RIGHT: A performer at Tiuna El Fuerte captured in a film still from Shaping the Public, a trailer for the film.


Minnesota documentary filmmaker Dawn Mikkelson turns her lens on an award-winning public art project in Caracas


Documenting Cultural Change




“Open Source” Philadelphia Breaking new ground in art as in tech BY ANNA RENKEN SCRAP MATERIALS LIKE ALUMINUM BECAME WORKS OF ART at a waste transfer station set up in South Philadelphia by local multimedia artists and brothers Billy and Steven Dufala. Taking cues from children’s drawings of their ideal play structures, Los Angeles–based artist Sterling Ruby designed an outdoor sculpture for them to climb that also provided a gathering place in an underserved neighborhood. These are two of 14 temporary, site-specific works that addressed social issues and opened dialogue throughout the city in October for Open Source: Engaging Audiences in Public Space, an exhibition curated by Boston-based independent curator Pedro Alonzo and organized by the City of Philadelphia Mural Arts Program. Working across media from murals to sculpture and installation, all of the local and international artists engaged the community and many invited direct participation.

Mural Arts had initially approached Alonzo about doing a street art festival, but he was impressed by their extensive outreach through such vehicles as restorative justice and art education. Alonzo said he wanted “to do an exhibition of contemporary art where I take the artists and embed them into these programs.” Los Angeles–based artist Shepard Fairey and Brooklyn-based artist SWOON, both known for street art, worked at Graterford State Correctional Institution and with Mural Arts’ reentry program for citizens returning from incarceration. New York–based artist Shinique Smith worked with students through Mural Arts’ art education program. Alonzo’s familiarity with the street art scene came through in the concept for Open Source. Immersed in Boston’s tech culture in the early 2000s, he saw a relationship between street art and new methods of disseminating information. Alonzo observed,




Photos by Steve Weinik for the City of Philadelphia Mural Arts Program.

OPPOSITE: French artist JR created a photomural called Migrants, Ibrahim, Mingora—Philadelphia on Philadelphia’s Graham Building for Open Source. TOP RIGHT: Jennie Shanker’s mural depicts the facades of the soon-to-be-demolished Norris Homes on retaining walls in North Philadelphia. BOTTOM RIGHT: Michelle Angela Ortiz (pictured center) created five ground installations for Familias Separadas (Separated Families), which mark locations and document stories of immigrant families affected by deportations in the City of Philadelphia. This installation is located in City Hall’s Central Courtyard.

for example, that Fairey’s distribution of stickers—which was also part of his Open Source work—created “a viral campaign pre-Internet.” In Philadelphia, Alonzo used Mural Arts as a platform, applying the philosophy of open source development “to bring in the artists to create something new within that structure, to challenge what’s going on, and then to invite the public to do the same.” As the artists visited sites and met with community members, projects began to roll out over the summer. Sol LeWitt–inspired sculptures Steps and Pyramid by British artist Jonathan Monk were unveiled in early June and immediately put to use by their target audience: skateboarders. JR’s Migrants, Ibrahim, Mingora —Philadelphia, a 20-story-high photomural of Ibrahim, a local immigrant from Pakistan, appeared on the Graham Building in late July. As the first step of his project, New Orleans–based

artist MOMO worked with children to paint a mural in mid-August. The children later taught others the geometric shape-rendering method they had used, and instructional videos were posted online so that still others can employ the same process. All the works were on view in October, when tours, panels with the artists, and family days drew out shared themes and strategies. Multiple artists developed educational programming, established new community spaces, and generated web content. Open Source was presented as Philadelphia’s answer to international exhibitions like Germany’s documenta, but Alonzo noted crucial differences: “I’m not bringing the art world to Philadelphia—I’m bringing artists to Philadelphia to highlight the unique diversity and cultural identity of the community.” ANNA RENKEN is an editorial assistant at Public Art Review.



Opening Up Urban Space Two mirrored projects call attention to space in densely populated neighborhoods In New York and San Francisco, two temporary installations have transformed public walkways with reflective materials, drawing attention to how we think about open space in dense urban areas. Five hundred feet of golden foliage-like polished metal plates form six porous canopies above paths in Manhattan’s Madison Square Park in Teresita Fernández’s Fata Morgana. “My concept was to invert the traditional notion of outdoor sculpture by addressing all of the active walkways of the park rather than setting down a sculptural element in the park’s center,” Fernández, a New York-based artist and 2005 MacArthur Fellow, explained. Bearing the Italian name for a type of mirage that appears right above the horizon, the huge sculpture filters and reflects sunlight so that walking through the park becomes a newly dynamic experience. While some have praised Fata Morgana since its unveiling in June, others have objected that the sculpture, which will be on display through the winter, obstructs light and restricts views. Following a supportive letter to the editor by Brooke Kamin Rapaport, senior curator at the Madison Square Park Conservancy, the New York Times published several unfavorable responses that raised questions about the work and the role of art in public spaces.

TOP: Photo by Yasunori Matsui/Madison Square Park Conservancy. BOTTOM: Photo by Elisabeth Bernstein. Both © Teresita Fernández, courtesy the artist, Lehmann Maupin, New York and Hong Kong, and Anthony Meier Fine Arts, San Francisco.



TOP: Photo by Frank Jang. BOTTOM: Photo by Lydia Han (Chinese Culture Foundation of San Francisco).


OPPOSITE: Teresita Fernández’s Fata Morgana puts sculpture over the heads of visitors to Madison Square Park along with shadows on the ground. THIS PAGE: The Mylar-covered bricks of Beili Liu’s Sky Bridge in San Francisco’s Chinatown reflect the open sky above.


Across the country, Austin-based artist Beili Liu led a team in hot-gluing mirror Mylar to 50,000 bricks on the Portsmouth Square pedestrian bridge in San Francisco’s Chinatown this August for Sky Bridge. Liu’s meticulous installation called attention to a rare open space in the urban fabric. “The rhythmic, reflective grid will bring into it the sky and clouds above,” she said. Sky Bridge began to wear away as people walked over it throughout August, and the community members who had helped install it removed what remained at the end of the month. Where Fata Morgana stirred debate in an area with a rich variety of resources, Sky Bridge highlighted pressing needs in an underserved community. It was greeted with curiosity and enjoyment in a neighborhood that has fewer basic services and amenities. As the finale to the Chinese Culture Foundation’s Central Subway Temporary Art Project, the project built anticipation for Chinatown’s new subway station, set to open in 2019. “The community has fought hard for art, and for transportation in the neighborhood,” said Mabel Teng, executive director of the Chinese Culture Foundation. “The art piece not only represents the arrival of Central Subway, but the bringing of public art to Chinatown, and the coming together of the community.” —Anna Renken




Culture Worker Mankwe Ndosi uses sound to build understanding in a diverse neighborhood BY LAINE BERGESON Mankwe Ndosi believes that performance is powerful, sound is transformative, and that music lives everywhere. “Everyone has a daily soundtrack,” says the Minneapolis-based artist. “Music is in people’s daily lives.” Today the Harvard graduate works to gather the musical soundtracks in city dwellers’ everyday lives, whether those are the echoes and vibrations off a freeway underpass or residents singing in a community band. Her goals for her work are manifold: she hopes her sound projects will bring people together, spark important conversations, and attract community members “to things that seemed scary before.” But these loftier ambitions don’t preclude a more straightforward artistic goal: that the sounds she creates or helps facilitate are a delight for the ear and a portal to seeing the treasures all around us every day. “I hope my projects remind people of the beauty of everyday life.” Ndosi, who grew up singing, studied economics and social sciences in college but decided to pursue performing. When she launched her career in the Twin Cities she appeared in

works all over town, including at the Guthrie and Penumbra theaters. Eventually she became involved in the spoken word movement, and today much of her work is a blend of rhythm, words, melody, and improvisation. A 2014 Forecast Public Art grantee, Ndosi has been at work for several years on Soundtrack of Phillips, an ongoing participatory and installation work that engages the community by building partnerships, sponsoring events, and establishing residencies in the Phillips neighborhood of Minneapolis. Phillips is a diverse ethnic community with a large Native American population and Ndosi hopes her work helps build cross-cultural understanding. As part of the project, she has recorded natural sounds in the community environment, gathered residents at events during which they are encouraged to tell stories about their culture and spiritual practices, identified places in the neighborhood that “sing back”—including underpasses, water being drained from a park, and the natural sounds in a local medicine garden—and performed and recorded her own music.




OPPOSITE: Photo by Walter Griffin. ABOVE LEFT: Photo by Reggie Prim. ABOVE RIGHT: Photo courtesy the artist.

Eventually she aspires to form a neighborhood band, as well as release an audio recording, create a podcast, and contribute to a forthcoming neighborhood radio station. She hopes that all the ongoing creative endeavors that compose Soundtrack of Phillips will help residents explore new connections in the community and question existing assumptions about their neighbors and neighborhood. “It’s about creative practice and teasing out points of creative tension that lead to misunderstanding,” says the Twin Cities– area resident. Ndosi describes herself as a “culture worker—an artist using creative practice to nurture and be useful to my community, my ancestors, and my planet”—and has been making her own music and performing since the fourth grade, when she was cast in a class play (though she didn’t get the lead part because she “didn’t have long hair,” she laughs). She soon realized that she could use music and performance to question authority, and that she liked “pointing out things that weren’t working.” Soundtrack of Phillips got its start at Hope Community, a neighborhood revitalization and housing organization that focuses on strengthening community ties, building community leaders, and establishing and caring for community spaces. Ndosi began working with the group several years ago and felt energized by the conversations she had there about social and

political power. She began to realize the different “ways people can be powerful.” Eventually she felt the desire to move those conversations beyond Hope Community and into the larger neighborhood to find ways to foster conversations between residents who might not normally talk to each other. She also wanted to bring music and sound into the project. Soundtrack of Phillips was born. She believes the Phillips neighborhood is an ideal community in which to base the project because it is a microcosm of an increasingly diverse world. “Many of the challenges that happen in the world—such as questions of Native sovereignty, cultural and linguistic misunderstandings, and concentrated poverty—happen here,” she says. One of the challenges she has encountered with the project is finding a natural stopping point. In such a diverse neighborhood, new inspirations seem to always pop up, new tensions and dynamics seem to be around every corner—and she wants to explore them all. “There is an abundance of music here,” she adds. Even when the official boundaries of the project come to an end, says Ndosi, the work will never be done. “I will never finish,” she says. “This work is going on all the time.” LAINE BERGESON is a writer and editor in Minneapolis.


OPPOSITE: Mankwe Ndosi (left) improvising with singer, songwriter, choreographer, and dancer Renee Copeland near City Kids Urban Farm in Phillips. ABOVE LEFT: Ndosi introduces herself to community members at Minneapolis’s Amen Corner, where a nondenominational congregation meets every weekend in an effort to take back their community from criminal activity. The site was developed in the 1990s by artist Rafala Green. ABOVE RIGHT: Ndosi (left) and Amen Corner organizer Dee Henry Williams.




Heightened Perception Walking with Carmen Papalia—eyes closed and other senses open BY JENNIFER VAN EVRA I can’t tell if we are on a sidewalk, in an alley or in the middle of a road. Every slope in the pavement underfoot is amplified, as is every sound—a car passing, a child crying, people chatting on a restaurant patio. With my right arm I feel for trees, signposts, fire hydrants, and other obstacles. I smell shrubs, asphalt, and brown rice. I’m in a line of people, each connected to the person in front by a hand on the shoulder. We’re taking a walk through Vancouver’s picturesque West Side—with our eyes closed. At the front of this unusual procession is Vancouver-based artist Carmen Papalia, who is blind—although he does not use that term, nor does he say that he “lost his sight.” Rather, Papalia refers to himself as someone who chooses to learn using his nonvisual senses. Over the past four years, he’s led dozens of “eyes-closed walks” in conjunction with art galleries and museums across North America and the U.K. The groups have been as small as one and as large as 60, and have snaked through neighborhoods, university campuses, museums, and other spaces. The tours are powerful, at times unnerving, and often deeply emotional experiences that instantly and viscerally point out how visually based our society is. Some participants are moved

to tears; others are fascinated by the near-immediate boost to the other senses—smell, hearing, and touch. In a noisy section of Oakland, California, one woman was so overwhelmed she had a panic attack; Papalia had the participants put their hands on a brick wall to ground themselves. But Papalia, who did his Master of Fine Art and Social Practice at Portland State University in Oregon, makes clear that the walks aren’t meant to make sighted people feel sorry for the visually impaired, or grateful for the vision they have. Rather, they’re intended to show people the multitudinous ways of understanding the world, and that by shutting off one mode of perception, they can heighten others. “It’s people’s first few steps into this nonvisual world. It’s not a simulation exercise where you’re shutting your eyes for ten minutes, and then you know you’re really happy to open your eyes because you don’t have to live like that,” explains Papalia. “It’s more understanding that this is a way of being and can lead to new discoveries.” Ranging in length from 15 minutes to over an hour, the walks are mapped out in advance and tailored to each group and locale. Some take unexpected turns; Papalia jokes that, on a few


Some participants are moved to tears; others are fascinated by the near-immediate boost to the other senses−smell, hearing, and touch.

Mount St. Helens. There, he had to rely entirely on friends to guide him, sometimes in areas so confined they had to scoot through on their stomachs. The challenge was enormous, but the sense of achievement afterward was profound. “It was initially overwhelming but then you get comfortable in the space. And then you feel that sense of accomplishment. And that’s the idea,” says Papalia, who has also led museum tours at MOMA and the Guggenheim. “When they open their eyes, I want them to feel like they’re actually leaving a very rich and interesting space.”

JENNIFER VAN EVRA is a Vancouver writer, broadcaster, and

University of British Columbia writing instructor.

OPPOSITE: Carmen Papalia (in black hat) prepares participants for Blind Field Shuttle (2012), one of many blind walking tours he has led over the last several years. ABOVE: With their eyes closed, college students and staff in Pennsylvania use other senses to experience the urban landscape in new ways.


Photos by Jordan Reznick, courtesey the artist.

a Vancouver museum; and, with acoustic engineers in Boston, a walking cane that amplifies sounds. Papalia also intends to continue leading his curated walks, which were first inspired during a caving trip to Washington’s


occasions, he’s even stopped to ask for directions. (On our walk, we accidentally wandered into someone’s yard.) Sometimes groups end up at the point where they started. Others open their eyes to find themselves in completely different surroundings— woven through a large public sculpture, near a cliff’s edge, or, as was the case on a walk for the Victoria and Albert Museum, in the middle of an apartment Papalia was leasing during a London residency. The walks also challenge accepted notions of what constitutes beauty or interest. At the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Papalia took participants under the 340-ton boulder featured in Michael Heizer’s famous Levitated Mass—a powerful sculpture that draws thousands of visitors each year but holds little nonvisual interest. On that walk, a noisy ventilation duct was the most fascinating stop. As part of a commission for Elsewhere, a museum in Greensboro, North Carolina, Papalia led city planners, engineers, and city councilors around the city hall plaza, which features public art and other visual elements, but ended their stroll in an abandoned train yard. “They preferred the train yard over the concrete playground of city hall,” says Papalia. “These people are usually planning very considered spaces, but we were showing them a different perspective on the city.” The guided walks are just one facet of Papalia’s practice, which is infused with both wry wit and serious aims. He’s created a photography exhibit of objects he had accidentally bumped into, navigated city streets using a 15-foot white cane, and once, even used a marching band as a walking aid: distinct sounds indicated when he should stop, turn, step up or down, or when he was about to encounter an obstacle. “I think what’s at the heart of my work is an interruption,” says Papalia. “My presence interrupts. I complicate a space.” Currently he’s working on an audio installation at the Surrey Art Gallery in Surrey, British Columbia; an accessibility audit of


In Remembrance Chris Burden: 1946–2015


Chris Burden in his controversial work Trans-fixed (1974). In this performance piece in Venice, California, Burden was crucified with nails driven through his palms onto a Volkswagon Beetle.

Jackie Brookner: 1945–2015 Innovative ecological artist Jackie Brookner died of cancer on May 15, 2015, at age 69. According to the NEWSgrist blog, her work “anticipated by several decades recent…theoretical efforts to…re-define the boundaries of the human in relationship to nature, ecology, and technology.” Brookner created bronze castings and graphite drawings early in her career. She began working with water remediation in 1995; at the time, she had trouble convincing people that there was a water problem. Her subsequent projects have employed plant-based water remediation techniques with sculptural and participatory elements at sites around the world. Since 2010, Brookner worked with the City of Fargo, North Dakota, on The Fargo Project, transforming storm water collection basins into community areas that help restore the natural environment. She gave a TEDxFargo talk on the project in 2012. Brookner was born in Providence, Rhode Island, in 1945, earned her BA from Wellesley College, and went on to Harvard University, where she completed all but her dissertation for an art history PhD. During the 1970s, she studied art and served as co-dean at the New York Studio School. From 1980 until her death, she taught at The New School's Parsons School of Design. She is survived by her wife, brother, and nephews. −Anna Renken

Jackie Brookner, right, visiting the site of The Fargo Project with artists, volunteers, and city staff. She considered this to be her greatest achievement.

TOP: Image ©Chris Burden Studio, courtesy the studio and Gagosian Gallery. LEFT: Photo courtesy City of Fargo.



Lauded by the Los Angeles Times as “one of the most compelling and widely admired sculptors of his generation,” conceptual artist Chris Burden died May 10, 2015, at age 69, at his home in Topanga Canyon, California. He had been diagnosed with melanoma 18 months earlier. Burden began his career with a series of controversial performances: he had himself shot in a gallery in the 1971 piece Shoot and crucified on a car in the 1974 piece Trans-fixed. The theme of power unites his explorations of the body and technology, from these early performances to later monumental works featuring motor vehicles, electric lights, and geometric towers. Public space informed recent large-scale works such as Urban Light (2008), made of refurbished antique street lamps; What My Dad Gave Me (2008), created from replicas of Erector set parts; and Metropolis II (2010), a kinetic sculpture that employed toy cars, train tracks, and miniature steel-beam roadways. Burden’s last sculpture, the monumental Ode to Santos Dumont, was presented at Los Angeles County Museum of Art earlier this year. Born in Boston in 1946, Burden studied architecture, art, and physics at Pomona College. He completed an MFA at the University of California at Irvine. In 1978, he became the first artist represented by art dealer Larry Gagosian and began teaching at the University of California, Los Angeles. He is survived by his second wife, the artist Nancy Rubins.


Pacifying Publics Public art designed in service of “social cohesion” ignores some key urban issues BY RIKE SITAS

Photo courtesy Rike Sitas.


worldviews coalesce and collide in cities—and where conservatism abounds, an agenda of tolerance may fall short of ensuring a progressive politics of equality. Indeed, a focus on social cohesion, by virtue of its aversion to conflict, runs the risk of espousing a pacifying politics. An attendant concern is the public art world’s focus on managing cultural diversity, following the lead of entities like UNESCO, which emphasizes values like acceptance, dialogue, and “respect and mutual understanding.” It’s true that diversity is a particularly important topic in a world with xenophobic tendencies, but “managing” can also be a form of pacifying. To truly grapple with issues of cultural diversity requires a level of conflict that social cohesion agendas rarely allow. To truly grapple with issues of Take, for instance, the issue of gentrification: Cultural cultural diversity requires a level policies often enable public art practices—even well-meaning, participatory ones—that soften the blow of conflict that social cohesion of development in the name of progress or “vibrancy.” agendas rarely allow. Indeed, public art can be seen as a marker of gentrifying zones. Even graffiti, once a subversive blight on the city, has been co-opted. As one Johannesburg resident, displaced by culture-led development, told me: “When of increased privatization of the commons, runs the thinking, a we saw the graffiti murals we knew we were done for.” “good” public space fosters equal access to the city, and therefore The fact is that cities are becoming increasingly unequal as a must be designed to be inclusionary, ordered, and harmonious. direct result of regional, national, and global sociopolitical poli This update of the agora is largely embraced by the public art cies. Public art cannot but function within this reality. When artists community, especially among those who emphasize participatory and arts administrators adopt an agenda of social cohesion, then, works and events. Sculptures must unify; events must engage and they frequently merely distract their audiences from these broader entertain; participatory projects must coproduce utopian worlds; concerns. Moreover, while artists play a role in ensuring more and all are leveraged as strategies for fostering and harnessing a empathetic and caring cities, so do city authorities whose policies particular kind of togetherness. This notion has also become the could make a practical difference in the lives of citizens. Public art basis for cultural policy the world over, where social cohesion cannot single-handedly dismantle unequal power relations. is seen as a paramount priority and deliverable. None of these My intent is not to devalue the important role public art impulses are intrinsically bad. Indeed, we need more harmonious can play in polarized societies. I do, however, challenge artists spaces in our vastly unequal and violent societies. But in focus- to think carefully about the politics at play in any kind of ing on social cohesion, artists tend to ignore many urban realities public-facing art engagement. Because art operates beyond the they ought to be addressing. real and the rational, it is well-placed to serve a critical function For one thing, social cohesion implies consensus: Diverse in and of society. But art is not implicitly radical, and neither is groups of people must learn to tolerate each other through a the imagination; the most nefarious regimes are also imaginative. consensual democratic process. By implication, cohesive public Rather, the radical potential of public art lies not in merely bringspace should be all things to all people, which is unrealistic. This ing people together, but in making as much space for rage as for ideal ignores the myriad power relations that shape our everyday laughter; for anguish as for pleasure—and ultimately in forging activities and freedom of movement throughout the city. Nor does transgressive and collective practices that are simultaneously it consider the incompatible and contested claims of different critical, conflicted, and hopeful. interest groups who vie for control of urban resources. In short, in a polarized world we are bound to piss each other RIKE SITAS is a researcher at the African Centre for Cities and a off occasionally. How, then, can democratic, consensus-based cofounder of dala, a public arts organization based primarily in public space address irreconcilable differences? Vastly different Durban, South Africa.


The romantic concept of the agora as the public meeting space of democracy has captured the imagination of thinkers for centuries. Today, public space, with its implied freedoms, informs our deliberations on what it means to have a vibrant public life in cities. The general notion among urban planners and related professions is that bringing people together in public space is intrinsically good—where “publicness” is measured by social interaction. In particular, they argue that public spaces, much like the agora, can foster democratic human interaction. In the face

Ar ti s t A my El li n gs on s t a n ds p ro u dl y i n front of he r 1 09-fo ot m ural, Untitle d (Lar ge Va ri atio n), a t S a n F r a n c i s c o I n t e r n a t i o n a l A i r p o r t ’s Te r m i n a l 3 . T h e m u r a l w a s c o m m i s s i o n e d b y t h e San Francisco Arts Commission and fabricated by Mosaika Art & Design.

W W W. M O S A I K A . C O M


Photo by Erik Berg, Den Norseke Opera & Ballett.


The marble-clad roof and glass walls of Oslo’s Opera House rise, iceberg-like, from the fjord, connecting land and sea in a harmonious meeting of cultural life and the environment. So, too, is the Snøhetta-designed Opera House a place where art meets the public. The sloping roof is designed so that anyone who wishes may clamber atop and around it, while the broad lobby welcomes visitors inside to view eight specially commissioned public art projects, including Olafur Eliasson’s three-dimensional front- and rear-lit panels, The Other Wall. At 30 million NOK ($3.7 million USD), the Opera House’s art budget was the biggest in Norway’s history for a single building. Opened in the Bjørvika harbor area in 2008, Oslo’s Opera House heralded the beginning of the regeneration of the area known now as Fjord City. It commands attention in Oslo’s skyline and is a symbol of Norway’s fast-moving development, funded by its booming oil economy, which, coupled with the country’s egalitarian tradition, has paved the way for a proliferation of public art.

Monica Bonvicini’s sculpture She Lies is anchored in the harbor waters outside the Oslo Opera House. It one of eight Opera House commissions.

Norway’s percent-for-art program requires that between 0.5 and 1.5 percent of the budget of every government building project be set aside for art projects, and Public Art Norway (KORO) has principal responsibility for managing these funds. Artists receive commissions from KORO, as either practicing artists or consultants, and projects are implemented within the framework of different schemes for government institutions and public buildings owned by municipalities and counties. KORO also brings art to outdoor spaces, ensuring that people can experience art both indoors and out. Traveling around Norway in the summer of 2015, I saw an almost overwhelming amount of public art, from grand projects like the Opera House to smaller ones featuring a single artist, such as Do Ho Suh’s Grass Roots Square with its tiny figures nestled between sidewalk slabs in Oslo’s government quarter. The more outdoor art I came across, the more I sensed a relationship to the environment in which it sat. Often this relationship was regenerative, seeming to perform a healing or restoration of a wounded or threatened landscape. Following are highlights of my trip.




Photos by Erik Berg, Den Norske Opera & Ballett.



Photo © Ivar Kvaal/Ekebergparken.

of Bizet’s opera Carmen on the roof of the Oslo Opera House in 2009. OPPOSITE BOTTOM: Four perforated, white-lit cladding installations in the Opera House’s bathroom lobby make up Olafur Eliasson’s The Other Wall (2008). The design allows visitors’ perceptions of color, scale, and hue­to change as they walk by. BOTTOM: Visitors observe Sean Henry’s painted bronze sculpture Walking Woman (2010) in Oslo’s Ekebergparken.


OPPOSITE TOP: Seven thousand people gather to view a broadcast

Ekebergparken: A Gift to the City Oslo’s Ekebergparken has a deep history, with remains from the Stone, Bronze, and Viking Ages contained in its earth. The site, strategically positioned on a hill and looking out over the city, contains layers of memories of violence: traces of battles dating back to medieval times have been found here, though its role in the Nazi occupation of Norway from 1940 to 1945 is fresher in citizens’ minds. The park was used as a cemetery for fallen German soldiers; left littered with mines at the end of the war, it fell into decay during the ensuing decades. In 2002, the Norwegian businessman Christian Ringnes, through his nonprofit foundation C Ludens Ringnes Stiftelse, initiated a collaborative plan with the city to turn the site into a sculpture and national heritage park, which opened in 2013. There are no entrance fees, no gates, no barriers, and the park is accessible 24 hours a day. While the installation of some pieces demanded some intervention in the natural environment —notably James Turrell’s Skyspace in the old water reservoir, for which some forest was clipped—the overall aesthetic is that of a dialogue with nature. Visitors meander along its winding paths, stumbling upon the artwork as if by accident. The park is a living space, used as much by joggers and dog walkers as by art lovers. From Ekebergparken you can look out across the rising buildings and creeping sprawl of the rapidly developing city. But, high up on its hill, Ekebergparken is cocooned from the threat of development: an arrangement with the government promises it will remain a public sculpture park for at least 50 years.


Photo © Ivar Kvaal.




TOP: Photo © James Turrell/Skyspace/Florian Holzerr/Ekebergparken. BOTTOM: Photo © Ivar Kvaal/Ekebergparken.


OPPOSITE: Visitors to Ekebergparken gaze up at Louise Bourgeois’s The Couple (2003). ABOVE: James Turrell used the interior of an old water reservoir to create Ganzfeld: Double Vision (2013) at Ekebergparken. RIGHT: Diane Maclean’s Open Book (2010), inspired by Donald Maclean’s biobliography of all known Gaelic texts, at Ekebergparken.

SALT: A Nomadic Art Movement While Ekebergparken is set for 50 years, Norway’s Arctic region holds no such assurances. As climate change melts the north, hungry eyes are trained on the untapped oil, gas, and mineral resources that lie beneath the ice. In 2014, an ambitious art and music festival called SALT was launched there to raise awareness of the fragility of the northern reaches of our planet and to instill respect for the havfolk, the people who live on its coasts. After its season in Norway, SALT will travel to Greenland, Iceland, the Faroe Islands, Scotland, Spitzbergen, Alaska, and Russia, spending a year in each place. The idea for SALT came to founders Erlend Mogård-Larsen and Helga-Marie Nordby when they were curating the biennal

Lofoten International Art Festival on the nearby archipelago in 2010. A local fish-drying rack—typical of northern Norway and evocative of a food-preservation technique that is less viable as temperatures rise—was slated to be torn down. The curators took the opportunity to utilize the giant pyramid-shaped rack for performances, sowing the seeds for SALT. On the Arctic island of Sandhornøy (population fewer than 500), sculptures by architect Sami Rintali were set on the beach; the centerpiece was a 490-foot-long “Arctic Pyramid,” modeled on those fish-drying racks. SALT’s ethos is to follow the Arctic philosophy of moving with the environment and maintaining a close relationship with nature, so it was perhaps no surprise that harsh winds tore down the Arctic Pyramid barely a month after its launch.


Photos by Martin Losvik.


OPPOSITE: SALT, an art and music festival, calls attention to how the Arctic is affected by climate change. Launched in Norway in 2014, it will circle the Arctic, spending one year in each country. TOP: The structures for the festival take their form from the fiskehjelle (fish rack), a symbol of the livelihoods of northern peoples. MIDDLE: The festival includes one of the world’s largest saunas, with a panoramic view of the sea. BOTTOM: Visitors can experience art projects, concerts, parties, theater, readings, the sauna, and local food cultures.

PUBLIC ART REVIEW | VOL. 27 | NO. 1 | ISSUE 53 | PUBLICARTREVIEW.ORG ABOVE TOP: The Steilneset Memorial honors 91 people who were burned for witchcraft. Architect Peter Zumthor designed both buildings. ABOVE: This 410-foot long building recalls fish drying racks. OPPOSITE: Louise Bourgeois’s The Damned, The Possessed and The Beloved is inside the glass building.

TOP: Photo © Jarle Wæhler / NPRA. BOTTOM: Photo by Guri Dahl.


Photo © Jarle Wæhler / NPRA.

The Steilneset Memorial Further north, in Vardø, a harsh, even less tamable landscape, is the site where, in the seventeenth century, 91 women, girls, and Sámi men were burned at the stake for witchcraft. The cruel treatment of the victims symbolizes a zeal for wresting control over unruly elements. Louise Bourgeois, in collaboration with architect Peter Zumthor, honored them with the Steilneset Memorial, completed in 2011. Bourgeois’s part of the installation, The Damned, The Possessed and The Beloved, comprises a circle of mirrors surrounding and reflecting a flaming steel chair; it sits inside a square, steel-and-smoked-glass room near one end of Zumthor’s 410-foot-long frame that again recalls the fish-drying racks of the north. The memorial forms part of one of Norway’s National Tourist Routes. The Norwegian government has commissioned 18 such routes, as well as a council made up of architects and artists to ensure the visual quality of each scenic viewpoint and picnic area along them and that public art is part of the experience. The Steilneset memorial was created more than 300 years after the event, a marked contrast to the speed at which memorials have been planned for Norway’s worst atrocity of recent times. Memory Wound Less than a year after Anders Behring Breivik killed eight people with a car bomb in Oslo’s government quarter, then shot 69 more at the Labour Party Youth League’s (AUF) camp on Utøya island, KORO received an official assignment for national memorials from the Ministry of Culture. Two sites were decided on: one in the government quarter (a temporary work will first be installed, then replaced, as the area is in the process of redevelopment) and another in Hole municipality, in which Utøya lies. A committee, which included survivors and AUF representatives, was formed to select the winning design in the competition.

In February 2014 Swedish artist Jonas Dahlberg was announced the unanimous winner. Dahlberg’s design, Memory Wound, proposes cutting a 3.5 meter-wide (11.48-foot) slit into the Sørbråten peninsula, facing Utøya. Dahlberg’s proposal states that slicing the landscape reproduces “the physical experience of taking away, reflecting the abrupt and permanent loss of those who died.” Across the small channel created by the wound, the names of the victims will be inscribed in the stone, visible but just out of reach—evoking the physical feeling of longing for loved ones. According to Nora Ceciliedatter Nerdrum, a curator at KORO and head of its arts department, Dahlberg was inspired when he observed bullet holes that still scarred the walls of the buildings, while the island’s natural elements had been restored. He said he wanted to permanently mark nature, as the bullets had marked the physical environment. It is an incredibly bold concept, which Dahlberg often explains by recalling a discussion with a survivor who told him not to be “too careful” in his design. Still, Memory Wound has stirred up strong emotions, as well as environmental concerns over the cleaving of the landscape. Some local residents, several of whom actually assisted in the rescue efforts of 2011, have voiced opposition. Nerdrum told me that following a review, psychologists, too, have concluded that the presence of such a memorial so close to people’s homes would reopen wounds—wounds that have barely been given time to heal. Memory Wound was originally due to be unveiled on July 22, 2015, exactly four years after the massacre, but has been delayed while these concerns are considered. The proposal is now being handled at a national political level. At the time of this writing, its status is still unconfirmed. Nerdrum says they hope that it will open on July 22, 2017. This means that plans for the government quarter are also on hold, as Dahlberg intends to use materials excavated from Sørbråten, including stone, trees, and plants, to build the foundation for both the temporary and permanent memorials there. Meanwhile, two public memorials currently stand in Oslo’s government quarter. A panel displaying the July 22, 2011, edition of the tabloid VG stood, frozen in time, behind bomb-shattered glass for two years before artist Ahmad Ghossein moved it across the street, preserving it as an art piece titled Relocating the Past: Ruins for the Future. Along with the 22 July Centre, where visitors can watch the explosion via a surveillance recording and relive the Utøya massacre minute by minute, the memorial offers a visceral reminder of the events of that day. Norway’s response to the atrocity was memorably dignified, but the memorials currently on view are coarse. Dahlberg’s vision too, though beautiful, is brutal and traumatic, so it is understandable that those living close by could find it too much to bear. Contemplating Memory Wound partially ruptured my impression of Norway’s public art as a means of healing. It showed me that it also has the potential to irritate wounds.

KAREN GARDINER is a Scottish writer based in New York City.

Her work has appeared in the Guardian, Condé Nast Traveler, Hyperallergic, and more.

All illustrations / renderings © Jonas Dahlberg Studio, courtesy KORO / Public Art Norway.



SALT was forced to close while it secured the funding needed to rebuild. Finally it relaunched in June 2015 with a smaller version of the Arctic Pyramid, set slightly farther back from the sea. There were three pyramid structures in total; one housed what was called the world’s largest sauna, while the others were used for concerts and art and film installations. Guests could stay overnight by pitching a tent on the beach or by renting a njalla, a small hybrid house/tent inspired by Sámi building practices that emphasize low-impact movement with the animals and the seasons. The njallas, which leave no mark on the ground and can be easily moved, were specially designed by Sámi architect Joar Nango, whose work focuses on the architecture of the indigenous people of the Arctic and northern Europe. SALT continued to be dogged by harsh weather, such that the much-anticipated closing concert with Norwegian pop star Bjørn Eidsvåg in late August had to be scrapped. Not that the organizers were unprepared for the elements—rather, they never tried to tame the environment, only to embrace and move with it. Although the Norwegian section of the global journey was significantly curtailed, the organizers have announced they will reopen in the same place in the summer of 2016 prior to continuing their journey.

Jonas Dahlberg’s Memory Wound, a planned memorial to those lost in the 2011 Utøya massacre, has been delayed due to environmental and emotional concerns.



While still an art student in Bangalore, India, in 2003, she initiated a project that ultimately led to the formation of Blank Noise, a collective that emerged in response to the widespread harassment and rape of women. Blank Noise creates interactive works, including Talk To Me, in which Action Heroes invite strangers to have conversations about anything except sexual violence in neighborhoods where people feel sexually threatened. The project has been staged in Bangalore, New Delhi, and Kolkata. In 2015, Patheja—along with Blank Noise—was awarded the second International Award for Public Art for Talk to Me. Patheja, 35, grew up in Kolkata and lives in Bangalore. She talked with Jack Becker, publisher of Public Art Review, when she received the international award in Auckland, New Zealand.


OPPOSITE: Strangers share a laugh during a 2012 Talk To Me event at Safest Lane in Yelahanka, Bangalore. During this one-hour event, organized by Blank Noise, strangers were invited to share tea and samosas and to talk about anything except sexual violence. ABOVE: In addition to her work with Blank Noise, Jasmeen Patheja (left) collaborates on a photographic project with her grandmother Indri.

Photos courtesy the artist.


JACK BECKER: Tell us how your development as an artist came to include a strongly social component. JASMEEN PATHEJA: I studied fine art at Srishti Institute of Art, Design and Technology in Bangalore, within which I was part of a year-long lab called Communication for Social Change. The lab focused on how artists and designers can influence social transformation. It led us to think about artists being at the start of a process of building change, rather than at the end, and about collaborative ways of working. Geetha Narayanan, the director of Srishti, took us through very experiential challenges. We looked at how different organizations were tackling AIDS and what kinds of practices they were following. It made us think about communication, messaging, community, and medium by examining multiple approaches and practices followed by various nonprofit organizations. It was a very, very insightful learning process. I was also taught by Ravindra Gutta, who was perhaps the first man I met who said, “I’m a feminist.” That was very important for me to hear from a man. He could see that I was deeply interested in addressing sexism and attitudes that perpetuate sexual and gender-based violence. He introduced me to artists including Guerilla Girls, Suzanne Lacy, Judy Chicago, Barbara Kruger, and also to a book called Women, Art, and Society by Whitney Chadwick. He enabled me to think critically about feminist art practice and create projects. As an art student, I was invested in questions around art and healing and confrontation. I was interested in art that was created through participation and built community.

What was the genesis of Blank Noise? For my final-year diploma project at art school, I got together all the girls in college. There were about sixty of us in one room. We made a mind map with the word “Public Space” and in less than three minutes there were only mostly negative associations: fear, invasive, groping, don’t want to be seen, anonymous, scared—all of these words emerged. This gave the basis to ask the question: “If we’ve experienced all of this, why don’t we start a conversation?” Out of the sixty, only nine were willing to do something about it. The rest said, “It doesn’t happen to me—that’s not something I want to be part of right now. Men are like that. Feminism was in the ’70s. You can’t change the world.” With the nine, a series of workshops were initiated that went on for about three months. It was a period of insight and exchange. The closed group identified, shared, and examined personal histories. Sexual violence or the threat of experiencing street harassment every day felt like “blank noise.” It wasn’t being addressed that feeling unsafe was a given. The environment was that of denial and silence. Yet there was this kind of noise that was prickling and shaping behavior, manifesting in warnings, fear; cautious, hunched girls and women walking with folded arms, only in groups. The collective workshop experience led to the formation of Blank Noise. Now I feel like the conversations again have shifted because the issue is so much in the spotlight. But back then, when we started out, the conversation was appropriate and it felt that we had to call it nothing other than what it was: an experience.



What happened next? At that time, I was preoccupied with wanting to address the silence. If so many women and individuals experience it, why don’t they talk about it? What medium? Which public? These questions informed a decade at Blank Noise. The first phase was very much about building a safe space, becoming a collective and becoming a community, and gathering testimonies. Our first street action was in 2005. We would appear at a traffic signal, and each of us would be a letter in the alphabet. We would create questions like: “Why are you looking at me?” Not to say Don’t look, but to throw open a conversation on how are you being looked at and how are you looking.

As much as that fear is a given in India, it’s also a given anywhere: “Be careful, don’t go out. Are you going out like that? How are you coming home? Where are you going? Have you taken your phone? How are you coming back?” These are the list of warnings that people, especially women, around the world get to hear. We have to plan so much that it’s become invisible, almost, that we have to take all of these things into account. Given that we’re brought up in an environment of fear, a lot of what we do at Blank Noise is creating actions. Becoming Action Heroes is a way of dealing with fear, not with an individual in particular, but of exploring fear within ourselves and probing who we fear, why we fear, how have we been taught to fear, how we inherit fear, and how we transfer fear. When we hear about sexual violence in the news, for examDid doing actions in public lead to the term “Action Hero”? ple, it’s a good thing that it’s reported. But there’s also the quesWe arrived at Action Hero rather intuitively, when the first nine tion of the tone of the reportage. Is it “Oh, it’s become really participants started doing actions every weekend. We began to unsafe—don’t go out, and women should be careful”? Or is it refer to ourselves as Action Heroes and to address other poten- “It’s become really unsafe, and therefore we need to make sure tial Action Heroes in our calls for participation. we’re visible and outside”? So being outside as a responsibil I think our first definition of it was: somebody who does not ity to make a place feel safe, and being more visible in public surrender to power. It was spaces, is part of the Action about harnessing your own Hero identity. power as an Action Hero. It At one point, we invited "I had the thought that there was also an easily relatable Action Heroes to send in their are more of us in fear of each phrase. It can be appropriated: wish list for the city. We were Oh, I want to be an Action Hero very struck by how simple some other than with the actual too. So it becomes an identity. of these things seemed: I wish to intention to harm." We started inviting particbe able to walk when it’s raining ipants to be idle in public and not have to worry about my space. Numbers started growclothes getting wet and people ing. Participants started to talk about idleness as a challenge and staring at me. I wish to be able to hum a song while walking. At personal confrontation. This was the start of the Being Idle project. that time I also added my wish: I want to be able to take a nap in a park. Do you have to be brave to do some of these actions, or you The next year we proposed to actualize the wishes. I rememhave to be strong, or you need certain powers? ber Action Hero Saraswati, who said, “Today I dared myself Anybody can be an Action Hero. An Action Hero is somebody by yawning and stretching on a park bench and reading a book who is willing to take agency. A person whose agency builds alone.” I went with a pillow and a mat and I said, “Today I want a safe space. An Action Hero is any and every individual who to be able to take a nap in the park.” And so there was a group believes in being able to take that agency, because we really of us in different parts of the park, doing different things. work with the premise that every person has the power and While I was trying to perform or actualize my wish for the ability to influence a safe space and to build a safe space. city, I realized that it was actually really, really hard for me to One of our projects was called Safe City Pledge, which was a go to sleep, even knowing that in the not so far distance there one-year campaign about identifying the smallest action you can were people whom I knew. As soon as I almost went into sleep take from whichever role you’re in. If you’re a taxi driver, what mode, I would wake up, hearing a sound. I would realize it was is the least you can do within your capacity as a taxi driver to just a leaf that fell, or a dog that passed by. There was so much influence a safe space? That you can was the ignition. Getting fear associated with allowing yourself to be that vulnerable. somebody to identify and articulate what they can do was part Just at that moment I had the thought that there are more of that person occupying the position of the Action Hero. of us in fear of each other than with the actual intention to harm. That experience of trying to take a nap really shifted Where did those actions lead? things. Everything we’ve done at Blank Noise since then Blank Noise started in response to the need to do something has been more towards building trust rather than working about street harassment and sexual and gender-based violence. from defense. It was also out of very personal experiences of feeling extreme So that has led to a project we’re doing now: Meet To Sleep. threat and defense. Blank Noise has been a process of examin- It also led to Talk To Me, which was about how we move to a ing, addressing, questioning, and unlearning fear. Fear that is place of working with trust and connection rather than exclutaught. Fear that is inherited. Fear that is transferred. sion, defense, and fear. Talk To Me originates there.

Dear Stranger, We haven’t had a chance to talk

Photos courtesy the artist.

to each other before. Let’s talk Tell us more about Talk To Me. I was working with a group of students who were part of an Action Hero workshop at Srishti. They did a range of things in that one month, including mapping Yelahanka, the neighborhood in which Srishti is located. The Yelahanka Action Heroes kept referring to the “Rapist Lane.” So we went there on a site visit and identified several aspects, including the fact that lights were there but not working; at the front end was a public urinal; at night the lane was occupied by different men who would come in their bikes and cars and stop there and have a drink. We didn’t hear of any reported rapes, but it had earned that nickname and it was perceived with threat. A lot of the Yelahanka Action Heroes said, “There’s no way I’m walking there alone,” or “I’d walk there really, really fast if I have to walk there alone.” So we decided the first thing was to call it the “Safest Lane” to change our own attitude towards it, and then to design. So that’s where the word came first and then the action followed. In every other thing that we’ve done at Blank Noise, I think, we’ve arrived at words last. But with the Safest Lane, we made a deliberate attempt to make it the Safest Lane and change our attitude, because it was also coming from a rationale of wanting to change our perception of fear and shift that. With that, we set up tables and chairs and invited passersby to also occupy the position of the Action Hero by sitting at a table and building a conversation. Instructions included that the conversation has to last an hour; that it can be about anything except sexual violence; there will be tea and samosas along with it; you’re

over a cup of tea and samosas. We can talk about anything; our dreams, hope, fears. Our conversation will not be recorded but a photograph will be taken. You don’t have to share your details and name, but of course we would encourage you to do so. We are Action Heroes for Blank Noise; a collective committed to building safe cities. Come be an Action Hero too. Thank you, Your friend and Action Hero


ABOVE LEFT: An Action Hero participates in Safe City Pledge, initiated in December 2012 in the midst of public anger, protests, and outrage following a gang rape in Delhi. ABOVE RIGHT: Participants talk during the 2012 Talk To Me event in Bangalore. RIGHT: Action Heroes handed out this welcome letter to invite strangers to the Talk To Me event in Bangalore. The letter was written in Hindi, Kannada, and English.




not to exchange contact details; and you’re not to create a fictitious identity of yourself. You are to be yourself as Action Hero X. Passersby were told that it’s not an interview. It will have to be an equal conversation; it has to be a place of exchange. Yes, it will be uncomfortable and it’s unscripted, but that’s part of the process. It was met with a sense of enthusiasm, fear, willingness, openness. The Talk To Me Action Heroes who were in Bangalore were not the ones who were in Delhi, and the ones who were in Delhi were not the ones in Kolkata. It’s a different set of people who care and want to do something about sexual violence and gender-based violence. Being in that place of willingness is crucial for Talk To Me to happen. Was it a challenge to get the necessary permits? No, because we said we’re just setting up tables and chairs. The police didn’t see it as a threatening experience. And they didn’t question our intention to build Talk To Me, but rather saw it as an invitation too. When we did this in Delhi, it was right in front of a police station, so we went inside the police station and invited them. They’re so used to activists in Delhi, protesting, and they’re used to saying no. There was this confusion on their faces because while we were asking permission we were also inviting them to join in. I think it confuses people, and I love that. What kind of impact has the project had? The Yelahanka Action Heroes had things to say, including, “Today I really feel like an Action Hero, and sometimes maybe strangers are not so strange.” They expressed a sense of seeing a person, a three-dimensional human being, instead of a stereotype based on differences of many kinds, from language and gender to socioeconomic class. Because it’s received press support, and it’s received support here, I think Talk To Me has gotten more and more

people to think about trust and empathy at the core of building safe spaces. In the documentation of this project being shared, the conversation it is impacting, and as a lived experience, it’s shifted something. Hopefully, it’s shifted something for the two individuals who sat in front of each other and have had very, very uniquely different conversations based on what transpired at each table. When I was part of Talk To Me in Delhi, I sat in front of this man who said, “Because you’re a stranger I can tell you everything I want to, and I know it will be safe with you.” What’s next for the project? We’re playing with the idea of a toolkit. How do we share an idea so that it can be appropriated and locally contextualized? And it’s not just about step one, step two, step three. It’s about facilitating a tone, and to create tonal accuracy. And how do you have tonal accuracy and a toolkit? These are some of the questions that I’m trying to explore.



Photos courtesy the artist.

ABOVE: For Being Idle events from 2005 to 2009, women were invited to relax, be idle, and make eye contact with passersby, bringing attention to the difficult relationship women often hold with public spaces. Here, Action Heroes gathered along the Brigade Road railing in Bangalore, reclaimining a space usually dominated by men. OPPOSITE: At this Being Idle event in 2007, Action Heroes wore letters on their shirts to open conversations about how people look at each other.

Tonal accuracy? That’s a good phrase. Could you elaborate? When we were doing Being Idle, we were interested in exploring what it means to lean back by the railing and to make eye contact. After the press reported on it, some people in the public would say, “Hey, you’re that project that goes through the streets and stares back at men.” We didn’t want to be that project that stares. That’s shifting the tone, and that’s shifting the intention. If somebody hears about Talk To Me, they might say, “Oh, you sit at a table and tell people how to talk about sexual violence.” That shifts and that moves away from our intention, and it shifts in tone. Talk To Me is not about telling. We’re not preaching at people. So one of the things I’m thinking about is maybe to create three to four actions which are tonally accurate and share them as examples to refer to.

something that is a kind of self-realization or a self-confrontation, or a place of desire even. In addition to working with Blank Noise and with its Action Heroes who form the community and the collective, I also work very, very closely with my grandmother. She and I collaborate on a premise based on something she said: I wish I’d been an actor. She transforms into or she becomes characters or identities that she desires to become. We’ve created photo projects where she transforms into a queen, a fairy, or a politician. It’s not sitting in public art, but it’s still a process in which two people are deriving something from and contributing to. In both spaces, I feel like something should shift for the person entering that space. It should shift something for my grandmother and me. It should shift something for Action Heroes in the community. That’s important to me.

What’s important to you in your art? I think art should trigger something—something meaningful,

JACK BECKER is the founder and publisher of Public Art Review

and the executive director of Forecast Public Art.



the Arc





Jennifer Wen Ma’s quest for interactivity by Jacqueline White

Jennifer Wen Ma’s Bending the Arc was commissioned for Atlanta’s October 2015 Flux Night, which was delayed due to Hurricane Joaquin. As Public Art Review went to press, Flux Night had been rescheduled for November.

Image courtesy Jennifer Wen Ma’s studio.

WHAT SPARKS CHANGE? This is the question—a particularly vital and contemporary one—posed by the prolific and eclectic artist Jennifer Wen Ma in her plan for a remarkable, interactive art piece. Bending the Arc was commissioned for the October 2015 Flux Night, Atlanta’s festival of arts, dance, and performance, hosted annually by Flux Projects, an organization that stages temporary projects throughout the southern city. Due to Hurricane Joaquin, the event was delayed. As this issue of Public Art Review went to press, Flux Night was rescheduled for November, its staging ground the historic, storied neighborhood of the Old Fourth Ward, the childhood home of Martin Luther King Jr. and the location of an historic site dedicated to his memory. Curated by Creative Time’s Nato Thompson, the popular festival is set to include some dozen temporary works, many of which explore MLK’s impact. In considering his legacy for Bending the Arc, Ma found herself focused on individual action: each person picks up a thread and the strands come together to weave collective motions. The civil rights movement,



she proposes, gained power through this kind of individual-collective dynamic, and she wanted her contribution to reflect it. “I wanted to make a piece that talks about personal empowerment in the light of the insurmountable,” she explains. “Individual acts sparked the civil rights movement.” Inspired by King’s contention that “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice,” Ma set about capturing this sense of collective action in her piece. Like many of Ma’s works, Bending the Arc involves projected light. In this case, the projection on a building in King’s old neighborhood will be a simple line that will change when audience participants whisper, sing, or shout into a microphone. The grand finale features a choir performing a commissioned work called “Bending the Arc,” accompanied by a digitally remastered version of the audience voices that will be recorded throughout the evening. Singing all together, and combined with the recordings, the voices will seem to lift the lighted line off the building and into the air, where it will make an arc projected onto a scrim of smoke—a literal visualization of the power of the collective human voice.

Bending the Arc is a site-specific, temporary work. Yet the general theme of interactivity—as embodied by public participation in her works—is a theme throughout Ma’s body of work. Indeed, it might be the only common thread in a wildly eclectic oeuvre that ranges from an opera to an Olympic closing ceremony to a fashion-week wrestling match, as well as temporary public sculptures. For Ma, who sees public art as “my way of giving back to society,” public participation is at the heart of public art. Galleries and museums, where she also exhibits, often reach a limited audience. Public art, by contrast, “is not just about scale and location. The idea of public art ultimately involves the people.” The aim for Ma is that “the people become part of the work.” FIRST WORDS IN A VISUAL LANGUAGE

Given that the primary effort of her public art is to connect people, it’s ironic that Ma found her initial artistic impulse during a period of crippling alienation and solitude. In Beijing, where Ma spent her early years, she aspired to become a writer. “My first love is language,” she says. But as a teen, Ma moved to Oklahoma City. With English as her second



Photos © Jennifer Wen Ma, courtesy the Water Cube.

ABOVE LEFT: Jennifer Wen Ma’s Nature and Man in Rhapsody of Light at the Water Cube at the Beijing National Aquatics Center. Designed for the fifth anniversary of the 2008 Summer Olympics, the ongoing work includes automated computer programs and programmable LED lights that translate ancient wisdom from the I-Ching and emotional data collected from Chinese micro-blogging sites into a fluid light display. ABOVE RIGHT: Jennifer Wen Ma in front of the Water Cube.

language, she became alienated from the very thing that she most loved. “It was very profound on a psychological level,” she remembers. Overwhelmed, she sought refuge in an oil painting class—at least there, she wouldn’t have to speak. In China, her schools had emphasized discipline, and only the elite artists (those skilled in representational work) were welcome to continue their studies. But in Oklahoma, Ma experienced an educational system that was “encouraging to the child.” She was welcomed to the arts, and she began to draw. The encouragement paid off. Ma continued her studies at Oklahoma Christian University of Science and Arts, where she achieved a bachelor of arts degree, and the Pratt Institute in New York, where she earned a master of fine arts. She started off her career as a studio assistant to Cai Guo-Qiang, the Chinese artist, now based in New York City, known for his work with explosives. Along with Cai, Ma was chosen to be a member of the core team designing the opening and closing ceremonies for the 2008 Beijing Olympics. The youngest member of the team by a generation, Ma was vaulted into international prominence: as the chief designer for visual and special effects, she landed an Emmy.


As her career has developed, curator Lance Fung describes Ma’s practice as “full-bodied.” She possesses, he explains, “the technical expertise of a sculptor, the accessibility of a public artist, and the intellectual depth of a conceptual artist.” In recent years, her work has increasingly showcased these qualities—as well as her growing interest in involving the public in her works. Nature and Man in Rhapsody of Light at the Water Cube, for instance, began as a call to reimagine the façade of the Beijing National Aquatics Center on the fifth anniversary of the 2008 Summer Olympics, for which it was originally built. The iconic building is an unusually visible landmark in a city where views are often marred by pollution or tall buildings. The boxy structure earned its nickname, the Water Cube, for its function and form. The brief called for a “reimagining of the cellular ‘skin’” of the building to celebrate the fifth anniversary of its inauguration. Ma won the commission, working with lighting designer Zheng Jianwei, who had also been on the creative team for the 2008 Olympics. Unlike many public commissions in the United States, this one had no requirement to poll the public or hold a community meeting. “All I had to do is convince a group of bureaucrats that this

is a great idea,” Ma says. Still, she saw the work as an occasion for human connection. “It was an opportunity to say something about our collective consciousness as a people,” she says. The resulting work has all the hallmarks of Ma’s obsession with public interaction—and is also a unique, delicate, conceptual piece. Ma and Zheng’s solution is a state-of-the-art computer program that collects “emotional data” from millions of Chinese bloggers each day and then filters it through the ancient Chinese teachings of the I Ching to produce an hourlong, nightly LED display that plays on the building façade—a visual story in color of the emotional mood of the nation. The piece is not only beautiful, but subversive in the way it represents human consciousness. “The battleground for that piece,” Ma says, “was just the right to be. There are no good or bad emotions; we can feel what we feel without being censored.” While the piece does meet Ma’s basic criterion of involving the public, it is not—at least yet—truly interactive. But plans are in the works to develop an app that would allow viewers to change the light display in real time. STARTING WITH A CLEAN SLATE

While many of her pieces involve some sort of co-creation with her audience, Ma is fiercely protective of her role as an artistic visionary. In that way, her public practice is much like her studio practice—guided by her singular mind and creativity. How that vision gets translated into a final outcome, however, is quite different. For a museum show, she says, “I’m almost my own client.” Her creative process is mostly internal, as she wrestles with “what’s the most effective way I have to say this?” For public projects, “who you have to please is much more complex.” In addition to the organizers and the people commissioning the work, “you’re responsible to the public,” Ma says. This creates something of a tightrope for Ma, because even as she seeks to serve and involve the public, she remains guided

by her personal vision. “Art is a very particular singular vision. It’s not meant to be all things for all people,” she says. “As a citizen of the world, of course democracy is better. But art by democracy is a death blow to the art.” One method that Ma deploys to achieve this balance is to carefully investigate not only the site, but the context of each public commission she accepts. “I do as much research as I can to understand the need of the organizer,” she says. A 2015 installation on a Pittsburgh plaza, A Winter Landscape Cradling Bits of Sparkle, serves as an example. The commission was initiated by the Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership out of a desire to lure folks downtown in the cold of January and February. Ma investigated the history of the site, how people generally use it, the previous piece on the site (this was the second year of the project), and who the typical audience would be. “I didn’t want to make a work that can be done anywhere at any time,” she says. “What set of skills will help you communicate with the local people and make a work that’s valuable to them?” As Ma engages in this research process, she says, “I try to go with a clean slate” so her vision for the project can emerge organically as she learns about the people and the project: “If you go with a preconceived notion, then you’re always adjusting and you lose your conceptual core.” The resulting work was a temporary, living forest of all different types of trees, all painted black with naturally derived traditional Chinese ink—another signature technique in her work. As the Pittsburgh winter turned toward spring, the trees burst into bud, making a vivid commentary on the nature of changing seasons and the rebirth of spring. CHOOSING CREATIVE CHALLENGES

One of the secrets to Ma’s extraordinary output is her studio. “I run a tight ship,” she says, and credits her time working for

LEFT: Photo by Jennifer Wen Ma. MIDDLE: Photo by Renee Rosensteel.



For A Winter Landscape Cradling Bits of Sparkle (2015), Ma planted 126 live trees in Pittsburgh’s Market Square and painted them with Chinese ink (above left). In spring the trees burst into bud (above right). The project, commissioned the Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership, included glass globes (right) and a wooden pathway.

RIGHT: Photo by Chris Litherland.

JACQUELINE WHITE is a Minneapolis writer. Her mother is the sculptor Nancy Metz White, whose welded monumental tree forms grace two Milwaukee parks.


Cai as a period during which she learned the value of a well-organized studio. “Every successful artist I know is smart and organized when it comes to business,” she says. Ma employs just one full-time staff person in New York and another in Beijing. She supplements her staff through long-term collaborations with artists and designers she admires who have their own individual practices but come together to work on her projects. She has ongoing relationships with everyone from a structural engineer to a video editor and even a philosopher. By keeping her overhead low, Ma has the freedom to say, “I don’t do projects for money.” Instead, she can take on projects because they interest her. And what most intrigues Ma is a good creative challenge. Of the large-scale theatrical productions she has pulled off, Ma says, “It’s exhilarating. Your adrenaline is going. You’re put in a lot of unfamiliar and uncomfortable positions. I love it!” Call it yet another paradox in her career: while her abiding passions are for interactivity and inclusion, she achieves these aims with a single-minded focus on her individual creative vision as an artist—and a savvy organizational skill on the business side of things. As she explores the themes so apparent in her Atlanta Flux Night piece, Bending the Arc, she upends the false dichotomy of the lone artist isolated in her studio versus the co-creative approach of the public artist. The result? A beam of light will lift into the air through the collective voice of those present, and bend metaphorically, as Martin Luther King assured us the moral universe does, toward justice.



Around the country, museums are collaborating with public artists and shedding their highbrow image BY JON SPAYDE

Photo courtesy Detroit Institute of Arts.

OVER THE YEARS, in these pages we’ve chronicled the evolution of public

art from “plop art”—the big sculptural object by the renowned artist dropped into the public place—into a dynamic ecosystem of artistic practices, from mural-making to event-making, that are more and more focused on the histories, needs, and wishes of communities, and more and more collaborative with community members. At the same time, the art museum, sometimes seen as the “indoor,” more rarefied end of the art continuum, has been undergoing a curiously similar evolution, from a warehouse of rare objects and a generator of aesthetic experiences into a force for education, community involvement, and even social change. It should come as no surprise, then, that many art museums are learning from, and aligning themselves with, some of the same public-practice and social-practice initiatives that have been making public art more audience-focused in the past decade or so. As the late Stephen E. Weil, a scholar of museum studies at the Smithsonian Institution, wrote in an influential 1999 Daedalus article, “In place of an establishment-like institution focused primarily inward on the growth, care, and study of its collection, what is emerging instead is a more entrepreneurial [museum] that…will have shifted its principal focus outward” toward the public. The change is being driven by several forces, Weil said, including socially conscious younger curators and a need to quantify the impact a museum is having so as to inform and impress corporate and nonprofit funders. And the change is progressing beyond educational outreach (Weil’s main focus) into co-creation with the community the museum serves.

Two children gaze at a reproduction of the Detroit Institute of Arts’ Portrait of a Mughal Prince (1680s) by an unknown artist. Part of the museum’s Inside|Out project, this was one of several reproductions installed temporarily in 2014 in Detroit neighborhoods.


Go Public




A Curator of Public Practice The Oakland Museum of California (OMCA), for example, has long called itself “the people’s museum,” but it, too, has made steps to become more co-creative with its community. After a major physical renovation in 2010 came a reorganization under executive director Lori Fogarty that reoriented the OMCA toward a more active involvement with the four Oakland neighborhoods that surround it. “We actually see our collections as the beginning of bridge-building between ourselves and the community,” says Kelly McKinley, director of the OMCA Lab, a unit focused on balancing curatorial expertise and public engagement. “We think less and less about creating exhibitions for people and more and more about how to create exhibitions with people. And that means that traditional curatorship has to line up alongside other ways of knowing, other ideas of relevance, and other voices.” To help make that happen, the OMCA established a new position, Curator of Public Practice, and took Evelyn Orantes from the museum’s education department to fill it. Orantes had been organizing an annual Day of the Dead exhibition that highlighted how Oakland’s Chicano communities celebrate the occasion, and via that show and her other activities

she had developed relationships with schools, museum visitors, and area artists who work with the public. Outside of the Day of the Dead show, however, these alliances mostly involved educational programming; rarely did community images and voices show up in exhibitions. Now, however, as curator of public practice, it’s Orantes’s job to see that they do. She connects with community members and local artists to bring their ideas and their work into the OMCA. She’s organized exhibitions like Who Is Oakland?, in which ten Oakland-based artists reflect on current community issues in a range of media, including video, digital photomurals, and multimedia. She’s also overseen the creation of two murals on the outside of the museum, intended as “calling cards” to invite visitors in. As her title suggests, she’s engaged on a daily basis with “public practice” ideas and practitioners, although, she adds, not always by that name. “The artists I work with don’t necessarily identify as public artists or public-practice artists,” she says. “It’s just about using the right tools and the right strategies to execute projects. I want to know who are the exciting, innovative, playful people who are developing the means for community voices to be part of the final artwork or exhibition.”

RIGHT and BELOW: The We Dream in Art mural features artwork and portraits created at participatory art events in 2013 by community members answering the question What is your dream for your community? The mural was installed at the Oakland Museum of California February 28, 2014, through March 2, 2015.

Photos by Odell Hussey Photography.



Reaching Out Two Scandinavian museums devoted to public art are finding ways to reinvent their relationship with the public The push outward toward the public that’s on the agendas of so many museums today is even influencing two museums that are among the very few in the world specifically devoted to public art. In 1934, Ragnar Josephson, a professor of art history at the University of Lund in Sweden, came up with a visionary idea: collect an archive of the sketches, models, and other preliminary products of the creative process involved in the making of public sculpture and murals. The Skissernas (Sketches) Museum now houses some 30,000 objects documenting work by Swedish and other Nordic public-art practitioners as well as French artists (including Arp, Matisse, Vasarely, and Delaunay) and the preeminent Mexican muralists. In 2011, the museum brought on its third director, a curator trained at Lund and NYU named Patrick Amsellem. He has

been working, as he puts it, to “reframe” the collection in a way that reflects a new educational/outreach focus, moving from the Skissernas’s traditional focus on the art-making process toward making apparent the ideological and other currents that flow around public art projects. “What I want to do,” he says, “is raise questions that are quite important and even obvious in the art world of today: you can’t discuss the birth of an artwork in public space without discussing the political, social, financial, and cultural context.” This reframing, along with maintenance and expansion plans, has closed the Skissernas until September 2016. When it reopens, wall descriptions, audio guides, docent tours, and public programming will, Amsellem hopes, give visitors that sense of context, and a sense of the multiple real-world issues that all public artists negotiate. The KØS Museum of Art in Public Spaces in Køge, a small coastal town within the Copenhagen metropolitan area, also collects drawings, maquettes, and preliminary paintings for public artworks, including both the extremely iconic (a model of Edvard Eriksen’s 1913 Little Mermaid, Copenhagen harbor’s tourist magnet) and the up-to-the-moment.

Photo by Jean Melesaine.

Along with a friend, Esteban Cuaya-Munoz (right) stands in front of his portrait, part of the z project by artist Brett Cook at the Oakland Museum.



TOP: Photo by Maria Mortati. BOTTOM: Photo by Emma Krantz, courtesy Skissernas Musuem.

The Oakland Rover, the Oakland Museum of California’s mobile museum, brings public art activities to communities in neighborhoods surrounding the museum.

The Swedish collection at Lund’s Skissernas Museum, which houses 30,000 objects by artists who have created public sculptures and murals.



“Community Ownership” of Masterpieces Since 2010 the Detroit Institute of Arts has been doing a lighthearted project that combines the old paradigm—museum as treasure-house of masterpieces—with the new spirit of community connection; a project originally inspired by social- and public-practice innovator Thomas Hirschhorn. In May 2004 Hirschhorn created a “precarious museum” by borrowing paintings by major modern masters (including Duchamp, Mondrian, Dalí, Beuys, and Warhol) from public collections and setting them up in a cobbled-together “museum,” the Musée Précaire Albinet, in the gritty Paris suburb where he lives. Daily events took place in the museum, from art workshops for kids to art history lectures and rap face-offs. That venture inspired a program at London’s National Gallery, The Grand Tour. Full-size, high-quality reproductions, not originals, were displayed in the ungritty streets of Soho, Piccadilly, and Covent Garden. The Detroit Institute of Arts’ director, Graham W. J. Beal, brought the idea home, and Inside/ Out was born. “We took forty reproductions of works from our collection and just stuck them up on walls throughout our community,” says Kathryn Dimond, the DIA’s director of community relations. “And one day someone called us and said, ‘Hey, are you

By the terms of its funding arrangements with the Danish state, the KØS can only admit the work of Danish artists to its permanent collection. On the other hand, it commissions temporary public art projects by international artists, displaying them within Køge and elsewhere in the country. The goal isn’t simply to produce public art. According to Christine Buhl Andersen, who directs the museum, commissioning is part of the museum’s teaching mission as well. “We produce very ambitious projects in public space,” she says, “in order to engage the audience in the processes, difficulties, and conflicts involved in putting art into the public realm.” A current show, for example, is a career retrospective of the Danish artist duo Randi and Katrine, who create colorful, playful, self-consciously kitschy architectural structures. Sketches, models, film footage, and other forms of documentation of their work are displayed indoors, while outdoors, visitors can take in a series of newly commissioned works by the pair, installed along a two-kilometer “art walk” down to Køge harbor. And because the KØS’s commissioning activities fall outside the Danish-only rule, the museum can invite the likes of Gerhardt Richter and Tracey Emin, who took part in an iconic (and iconoclastic) study and exhibition in 2012–13 focused on art in the Danish Lutheran Church. —Jon Spayde

missing one of your paintings? My husband is guarding it while I’m making this call.’ That made us realize that people were appreciating and taking ownership of the project.” Since that time, community ownership has expanded, says Dimond. The number of artworks has increased, and they’ve been sited all over the metro area after conversations with community members about what works would be appropriate where. Today, Inside/Out artworks serve as a means of highlighting the flavor of neighborhoods and the work of neighborhood groups as well as helping people who might be intimated by the museum get a taste of major art. In the summer of 2015, for example, the DIA teamed up with Southwest Detroit Environmental Vision to install artworks in community gardens and develop programming around them. The idea has spread. Since 2012 the DIA’s program has been supported by the Knight Foundation, and with Knight support, museums in Akron, Philadelphia, and Miami have initiated Inside/Outs of their own. The Placemaking Museum Public artists have been involved with the enlivening of public areas for centuries, long before the current vogue for placemaking and the involvement of artists in schemes to revitalize

need to grow into public space. That’s why we’ve taken on the project of turning Abbott Square into a creative town square for Santa Cruz, anchored with art.” The first phase of the project, an installation of Tim Phillips’s huge sculpture Beacon, is complete, according to Simon. When the whole project is done (summer of 2016, she estimates), the main part of the plaza will have a public marketplace with food purveyors, two stages for performance events, and public art that invites passersby into the square.


Making a Public Park with the Public Between 2010 and 2014, Minneapolis’s Walker Art Center ran an initiative that quite deliberately brought social-practice- and public-practice-oriented art and artists not into the Walker, but onto a big green field right next to the building. Open Field, the brainchild of the Walker’s former education department head Sarah Schultz, was in part a way to make use of the open land where the Guthrie Theater used to stand (it relocated to downtown Minneapolis in 2006). The question Schultz asked was, as she puts it, “What would it be like to make a public park with the public? How could this be a place for the public and also for artists engaged in public practice—and how could we bring all these approaches together


Photo by Hans Ole Madsen.

neighborhoods. Now, via a museum-practice thought leader, a California museum is getting into the act as well. Nina Simon directs the Santa Cruz Museum of Art and History (MAH) and blogs at Museum 2.0, where she discusses TED-worthy ideas for furthering the evolution of museums in a changing cultural and economic landscape. She’s a major theorist of the move from museum-as-treasure-house to museum-as-community-center. She’s also a former member of the City of Santa Cruz Arts Commission. “That experience,” she says, “at a time when we were discussing an expansion of the role of public art in our museum, helped me think broadly about how art informs civic life.” The MAH is becoming a placemaker by leading in the redesign of Abbott Square, the plaza next to the museum, with public art and performance playing key roles. “There’s a paradox in Santa Cruz,” Simon says. “We call ourselves an artistic community and we do support art in many ways, but when it comes to civic support for public art, we’re severely under-resourced.” As a result, she says, nonprofits like the museum fill the gap. At the same time, the number of visitors to the MAH has grown rapidly in the past few years. “So we ask ourselves where we need to grow next,” says Simon. “And the answer is, we

Bjørn Nørgaard’s Sketches for the Queen’s Tapestries at the KØS Museum of Art in Public Spaces, which collects preliminary work toward public pieces.


in one space to see what might percolate and how they might pollinate one another?” For Schultz, the Walker’s role as a major contemporary art center also obligates it to pay attention to what she calls “this surge of interest among artists in working in the public sphere in a variety of different ways.” Open Field hosted a wide range of mostly informal projects initiated by artists and community members. Projects included drawing and knitting clubs, a synchronized-lawn-mowing event, play readings, an invitation from a local publisher to pitch book ideas, and projects from out-of-town artists, the best known of whom were probably Fluxus icons Alison Knowles and Benjamin Patterson. And the Walker’s wildly popular and ongoing Internet Cat Video Festival was launched at Open Field too, by Schultz’s colleague Scott Stulen, who is now curator of audience experience and performance at another notably community-minded museum, the Indianapolis Museum of Art. Like Orantes in Oakland, Schultz is hesitant to use the term

public artist for the Open Field participants. “All artists are public artists,” she insists. “It’s just a question of how you want to engage what you think of as the public.” Erasing a Distinction One of the instigators invited to Open Field for a residency was Maria Mortati, a San Francisco–based exhibit designer, who worked with local artists to develop FluxField, a galaxy of projects based on Fluxus precedents. Mortati is also the creator of the San Francisco Mobile Museum, which was one of the most prominent of a whole series of mobile, pop-up, and otherwise improvisatory mini-museums that have been showing up in public space in the past few years, more or less totally effacing the distinction between “museum art” and “public art.” As Elizabeth Merritt, director of the American Alliance of Museums’ Center for the Future of Museums, wrote in 2009, the year that Mortati created the Mobile Museum, “All sorts of purveyors are finding new ways to meet their patrons—or

A music event for teens—including a mixed tape exchange—drew large crowds as part of Open Field, a 2010–2014 program of the Walker Art Center.

Photo courtesy Walker Art Center.


and San Francisco to create “visual tributes,” including photos, drawings, and written accounts, to special places that meant a lot to them. Mortati provided each participant with a standard-size box into which everything had to fit, and the citizen-artists ended up creating small dioramas that were shown both in Denver and in the Mobile Museum in California. Other projects followed before she folded up the mini-museum in 2012. Originally a worker in brick-and-mortar museums, Mortati voices a sort of charter for why museums are reaching out into realms familiar to public artists. “There’s a lot of interesting stuff going on in museums,” she says, “and some of it is intellectually provocative, but it’s possible to get pretty far away from people’s experience. So I’m enthusiastic about the idea that I can take some of those ideas and explore them in the public space, and as a result really ask what we’re doing with our public institutions, and particularly what we’re doing with our museums.” JON SPAYDE is a frequent contributor to Public Art Review.


encounter new ones—outside the confines of their traditional physical locations” in a trend that “builds on a long tradition of performance art and other cultural mash-ups in public places.” “I was working on large museum projects for a studio, researching a lot of different museum practices,” Mortati says. “Pop-up and mobile museums were still kind of few and far between, and I wanted to test out ideas of bringing the museum to the people.” The Mobile Museum was partly inspired by the work of Jaime Kopke, who had founded the Denver Community Museum as a series of storefront exhibits. Since storefront appropriation wasn’t an option in San Francisco, Mortati created an eight-sided steel-framed and wood-paneled structure that could display objects, could be configured in various ways, and could fit into her car so she could drive it around the city to parks and other public places. In fact, the first Mobile Museum show, Looking for Loci, was a collaboration with Kopke. That project asked citizens in Denver

Photo by Maria Mortati.


Maria Mortati created the pop-up San Francisco Mobile Museum, here showing the FREE Shrines Exhibit (2010) at San Francisco’s Exploratorium.

ON LOCATION Global Reports



Arabian Artscape The United Arab Emirates’ nascent public art scene BY DANNA LORCH WITH A RAPIDLY EXPANDING GALLERY CULTURE IN DUBAI, the Louvre and Guggenheim set to open museums in Abu Dhabi, strong annual art fairs in both Dubai and Abu Dhabi, more than 18 museums and cultural institutions operating in Sharjah, and government and museum support for bringing in public art from around the world, the contemporary art scene in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) is flourishing. Local Emirati artists planted the first seeds for today’s art ecosystem beginning in the 1980s after Sharjah—one of seven emirates that make up the UAE—provided the Emirates Fine Arts Society with a home. The society nurtured experimental artists whose work moved beyond calligraphy, a traditional Arabic art form, and towards conceptual sculpture and abstract painting. The first documented performance piece took place soon after, when two founding members, Hassan Sharif and Mohammed Ahmed Ibrahim, famously staged a boundary-pushing performance along Sheikh Zayed Road, the main ventricle that connects Sharjah to Dubai and Abu Dhabi. As part of the event, Sharif lay down on the highway, shocking drivers while also introducing residents to a new artistic medium.

While these first contemporary artists had access to literature on European and North American artistic movements, they came of age in a pre-Internet vacuum that forced them to define their own practices and community without significant outside influence. As the UAE transformed into a global center for business, logistics, and transport—as well as a jet-setter’s paradise—its interest in art grew in tandem. A big year for growth was 2006, which saw the opening of a handful of bold galleries, the founding of Art Dubai, and the first Christie’s auction of regional art. Today’s emerging Emirati artists—including Ammar Al Attar, Ebtisam Abdulaziz, Noor Al Suwaidi, and Zeinab Alhashemi—grew up with fine-art educations both inside and beyond the UAE, a ready collector base, gallery residencies, and the cross-pollinating effects of rampant social media. In the past three years, UAE government, museums, and galleries have begun to recognize the importance of bringing public art to a general audience beyond institutional and commercial walls. The resulting explosion of commissioned murals, graffiti festivals, mobbed art nights, and free performances has paved the way for art to be viewed as a shared treasure that belongs as much to everyday residents as to the more exclusive art community.




Photo courtesy Dubai Culture.


Dubai—with its open import and export regulations—has emerged as a hotbed for regional artists and galleries alike that have roots in conflict zones or places that are not easily reached by those with a Western passport. It is not uncommon to visit exhibition openings in the UAE with a focus on Syrian, Iraqi, Palestinian, Iranian, or Saudi contemporary art. The accessibility of art in Dubai is currently expanding. In 2014, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, UAE vice president and prime minister and ruler of Dubai, issued an official decree stating that Dubai’s metro stations would soon be transformed into open-air museums. The first stage of the transformative initiative—a collaboration between Dubai Culture and the Roads and Transport Authority—involved wrapping selected trains in works by celebrated UAE-based artists of a number of nationalities. Works included a vivid abstract painting by Emirati artist Abdul Qader Al Rais; imagery by Algerian symbolist Rachid Koraïchi; a cityscape image featuring the sun setting over the iconic Burj Khalifa by the crown prince of Dubai, HH Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, an avid photographer;

and a moon-faced portrait from Syrian painter Safwan Dahoul’s monochromatic Dream series. Dahoul has been working on this series for 20 years, and the train project—in which his work was printed onto a massive vinyl wrap and affixed to train cars—marked his first foray into the realm of public art. “The approach to my work has changed with this project, but the message remains intact,” says Dahoul. “The feeling of the work had more of an impact on a moving train because the detailed measurements of the work had to deliver the same message whether the viewer was close to the train or standing at a distance.” Plans have been announced to expand upon the project and the Sheikh’s ruling by turning individual stations into unique, permanent museums to be enjoyed by an estimated half million daily commuters. Each of six major stations will have a different theme including Islamic art, ancient coins, illuminations, photography, contemporary art, and even an e-book library. INTO THE STREETS OF ABU DHABI

Abu Dhabi’s Saadiyat Cultural District is nestled among mangroves and beaches on the edge of the capital city, and


In this commission for Dubai Culture and RTA, Algerian artist Rachid Koraïchi’s 2015 artwork was printed on vinyl wrap and affixed to Dubai Metro train cars. Koraïchi’s work is rooted in Arabic calligraphy and integrates both real and imaginary symbols, signs, and ciphers from cultures throughout the world.




is set to become a landmark hub for arts. Abu Dhabi Art is based here, as are the sites for the Louvre and Guggenheim Abu Dhabi museums. In 2014, in an effort to reach urban residents of the emirate, Abu Dhabi Art launched the Beyond program, which collaborated with international powerhouses including Ai Weiwei, François Morellet, Tadashi Kawamata, and Sudip Gupta to lend large-scale works of art to various indoor and outdoor public spaces for up to six months following the close of the annual art fair in November. “The community aspect of public art initiatives is a high priority for us,” says Michelle Farrell, Abu Dhabi Art’s program manager at Abu Dhabi Tourism and Culture Authority (TCA). “Integrating art into public spaces is a powerful symbolic act which leading global cities use strategically to build a sense of community, belonging, and meaningfully shared space among their populations.” This year as part of Abu Dhabi Art’s performing arts program Durub Al Tawaya, the Berlin-based collective Rimini Protokoll has designed Remote Abu Dhabi, a site-specific work that facilitates an urban scavenger hunt, in which a computer-generated voice leads groups through both surprising and familiar parts of the city. Although they have not yet announced their full curatorial programming, it is anticipated that Louvre and Guggenheim will also make an effort to incorporate a public art program into their wider curatorial vision. SHARJAH’S BIENNIAL, ROUNDABOUTS, AND PROGRAMS

Sharjah Art Foundation’s exhibition spaces are set in a maze of coral alleyways in the city’s historic area. Given this location, the exhibition spaces are surprisingly stark and contemporary, and part of the charm is the contrast of studying highly conceptual works that would be equally at home in New York’s New Museum, while the call to prayer from the cerulean blue–tiled Al Zahra Mosque next door washes through the gallery. Recent attractions include the Light Show exhibition visiting from London’s Hayward Gallery, which features a minimalist Dan Flavin sculpture and David Batchelor’s buzzing multimedia installation Magic Hour that emits a rainbow aura. Under the direction of Sheikha Hoor Al-Qasimi, Sharjah Art Foundation draws neighborhood children on bicycles and the who’s who of the art world alike to the Sharjah Biennial. Local residents feel sufficient ownership of the event to simply refer to it as “our biennial”; entry is free and there are no VIP openings or other exclusive events that can sometimes make contemporary art institutions off-putting to a general public. One of the main objectives of the Biennial, which was launched in 1993, has consistently been to bring public art to the local community’s doorstep through interactive performances. At the opening of the 2015 Biennial in March, Congolese artist Papy Ebotani staged Fanfare Funérailles (“Funeral Brass”) in the public square outside the Foundation: a troupe

of local musicians and a group of African artists staged a traditional funeral procession, which wound its way through the surrounding gritty streets of downtown Sharjah, drawing neighborhood residents to their balconies and eventually to the pavement to join the parade. At intervals the performance stopped weekend traffic for a display of Congolese funereal dance or recitation in crowded intersections. The performance epitomized the unique way Sharjah Art Foundation delivers art to the surrounding community, and the community embraces and influences the flavor of the work. Sharjah is notorious for gridlock rush hour, and people mark time, direction, and orientation on daily car and bus commutes by circling traffic roundabouts. Each roundabout signifies important moments in the emirate’s history. While ornately executed traffic circles can be spotted throughout the Gulf region, particularly in Muscat, Oman, these kitsch landmarks— from a gigantic Arabic teapot with teacups to a leaping school of dolphins—are typically quite arbitrary in form. In contrast, Sharjah’s roundabouts were first envisioned by His Highness Sheikh Dr. Sultan Bin Mohammad Al Qasimi in response to an architectural desire for place- and identity-making among residents, then designed and executed by Spanish sculptor Carlos Marinas Rubias. “These very strong statements are an expression of Sharjah’s culture and an expression of urban identity, which is driven by the Ruler, who commissions the roundabouts directly,” says Peter Jackson, architecture advisor to His Highness. A massive Qur’an is mounted just in front of the Cultural Palace, Ruler’s Office, and public library to represent the spiritual heart of the city, while in Rula Square, a place frequented by families out for walks in the cool of evening, a tree of life sculpture symbolizes the multiplication of history in the shade of spirituality. The sculptures reinforce the vision and values of the city, while the slogan “Smile, you’re in Sharjah,” spelled out along one popular stretch of roadside in frosting-hued fresh flowers, reinforces the city’s playful side. Maraya Art Centre is a contemporary space that boasts multilevel exhibition facilities with a strong curatorial program focused on emerging UAE-based artists. With the support of Sharjah Investment and Development Authority (Shurooq), Maraya also facilitates an extensive public art program that includes a sculpture park and a street art program. An outdoor play zone is also in the works, in which children will soon be encouraged to climb through and engage with oversized designs. Last year, Maraya commissioned French-Tunisian street artist eL Seed (who has a cult following among youth in Europe and the Arab world) to revive the face of an abandoned building on Bank Street with calligraffiti, a textual marriage between Arabic calligraphy and graffiti. Fittingly, the mural came alive with a poem by nineteenth-century Sharjah-based poet and calligrapher Ahmed Bu Sneeda, whose unrequited longing is



CLOCKWISE FROM TOP: Photo courtesy Sharjah Art Foundation. Photo by Danna Lorch. Photo courtesy the Ruler’s Office.


CLOCKWISE FROM TOP: Congolese artist Papy Ebotani performs Fanfare Funérailles at the opening of the 2015 Sharjah Biennial. Ai Weiwei’s bicycle installation, part of the 2014 Beyond project for Abu Dhabi Art, which temporarily loaned artworks by well-known international artists to public spaces. The Qur’an Roundabout, in front of the Cultural Palace, Ruler’s Office, and public libary, reflects Sharjah’s rich cultural history while providing a landmark for orientation within dense traffic. It was commissioned by His Highness Sheikh Dr. Sultan Bin Mohammad Al Qasimi and designed by Spanish sculptor Carlos Marinas Rubias.








Photos courtesy Maraya Art Centre.

ABOVE: Wafaa Bilal’s The Hierarchy of Being (2013) was commissioned by Sharjah Investment and Development Authority (Shurooq) at Maraya Art Park. It incorporates a 15 pinhole cameras and computerized technology to explore how the human eye works. OPPOSITE: French-Tunisian street artist eL Seed’s 2014 mural was the first project of the Maraya Art Centre’s Jedariya initiative, which aims to immerse urban youth in the arts and beautify older parts of Sharjah.

transformed here into a modern-day metaphor for obsession with social media: “I speak to you but you do not reply; I visit you but you do not visit me.” The mural is the first phase of a wider project titled Jedariya, which translates to “walls” from Arabic. “The project uses public art—mostly graffiti—to beautify older areas of the city. We are trying to change the old perception of street art as an act of vandalism,” says Maraya’s artistic director Giuseppe Moscatello. Sharjah was named the Capital of Islamic Culture for 2014, and in celebration Maraya created an outdoor Art Park, which is constantly evolving with performances and site-specific exhibitions by local and international artists, along the newly developed Al Majaz Waterfront. Shurooq commissioned IraqiAmerican multimedia artist Wafaa Bilal—who surgically implanted a camera into the back of his skull for a previous project and has built a practice focused on the dialogue between technology and tradition—to conceive the first outdoor installation.

Bilal titled his project at the Art Park The Hierarchy of Being, though locals casually refer to it as “The Egg” based on its round, white shape. Open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, the installation references the camera obscura pioneered by the Basra-born scientist Alhazen (AD 965–1039). Visitors stand inside a round room illuminated by 15 pinhole cameras with computer-controlled shutters that open and close at intervals, resulting in intriguing renderings of motorized iris function. The project and its placement in the cityscape perfectly capture Sharjah’s deliberately measured balance between scientific innovation and ancient discovery.

DANNA LORCH is a Dubai-based writer focusing on contempo-

rary art and culture from the Middle East. She holds a graduate degree in Middle Eastern Studies from Harvard, is a staff writer at ArtSlant, and regularly contributes to regional and international magazines and gallery publications.




Breathing Cathedral American artist Stuart Williams’s moving light work in remembrance of lives lost during the Dresden bombing BY CHRISTINA LANZL

Ever since I saw the film Slaughterhouse Five in 1972, based on Kurt Vonnegut’s seminal novel, I have been haunted by a scene in which American prisoners of war are arriving in Dresden by train...unknowingly, just a few days before the bombing of the city in February 1945. As the train rolls across the River Elbe, the American prisoners are looking out the window and have their first view of Dresden’s famed skyline. One of the Americans says, “I’ve never seen anything like’s so beautiful.” And from that touching scene, it is the distinctive silhouette of the Dresden Cathedral that has been etched in my memory for all these years. —Stuart Williams



Williams’s previous Breath of Life LED light installation in Columbus, Ohio, during the citywide bicentennial celebration in 2012 provided inspiration. Visitors from Dresden, Germany, a sister city to Columbus, toured Columbus and saw the piece, which had been commissioned as part of Finding Time, a temporary public art exhibit organized by the newly constituted Columbus Art Commission. According to the commission, as quoted in the exhibition catalog, the aim for the exhibit was to help make “the City of Columbus aware of the passing of time, the use of time, measurement of time, the chronology of a life, world time, and the notion of temporary and permanent.” Williams’s first Breath of Life piece also involved large-scale architectural lighting, in which intermittent waves of light changed in color while rising and falling smoothly and continuously. In Columbus, Williams projected onto the impressive classicist façade of the original Central High School, which was preserved as the exterior of the new COSI (Center of Science and Industry) building, a science museum, research center, and cultural hub. “The relaxed pace of the rising and ebbing washes of light imitate slow breathing, as though the building were in a Zen-like state of meditation,” wrote Williams. The reflection of the kinetic lighting in the Scioto River added dramatic effect. For the Dresden delegation, the Breath of Life concept offered an expressive opportunity for their hometown to come to terms with a difficult past, which included, in addition to

OPPOSITE: To mark the 70th anniversary of the Dresden bombing, ten thousand people surrounded the old city and Stuart Williams’s Breath of Life/Dresden illuminated the cathedral. ABOVE: Stuart Williams at the Holocaust Memorial in Berlin in February 2015 following the installation of Breath of Life/Dresden.


Photos © Craig Collins 2015.

Williams created a visual score for his up-lighting concept using 28 LED lamps.


Dresden to rubble during the final days of World War II, the city’s iconic cathedral—which was not destroyed during the war— pulsed with life. New York artist Stuart Williams’s LED light installation illuminated the exterior of the church with waves of colored light that rose and fell at the pace of human breath. The son of an American soldier who was fighting with the Allied troops in Germany when Dresden was bombed, Williams describes his installation Lebensatem/Dresden (Breath of Life/ Dresden), which took place from February 13 through March 27, as “a breathing beacon of hope for peace and reconciliation.” He notes, “The irony is not lost on me that I am a citizen of one of the two nations [that] destroyed Dresden.” The illumination of one of Dresden’s architectural treasures during the dark winter days enchanted visitors who cherished the intervention during the coldest month of the year. Because of the historic significance of the cathedral—which was commissioned by Augustus III, Elector of Saxony; completed in 1751; then badly damaged in the bombing and finally restored to its old glory by the East German government in the 1980s—the project underwent a thorough review by the commissions of the City of Dresden, the State of Saxony (one of 16 states in Germany), and the Catholic Church. During the three-and-a-half-year process, Williams submitted minutely detailed plans in order to guarantee that the installation would be absolutely noninvasive. His elegant solution involved unobtrusively threading nearly 2,000 feet of electrical cable through the interior of the cathedral’s 275-foot-tall bell tower and attaching three tiers of lights with nylon straps. Working with lighting technicians,



78 ON LOCATION Artist Stuart Williams strung nearly 2,000 feet of electrical cable and 28 LED lamps on the tower of Dresden Cathedral.

the destruction of priceless architectural treasures, extensive casualties. Tens of thousands, perhaps as many as 135,000, were killed in the three days and nights of Allied firebombing. Most of them were women, children, and elderly who had sought refuge there. War-weary Germans fleeing the advancing Russian front had sought refuge in their city, believing it was a safe haven due to its historic landmark status. The Breath of Life concept offered the possibility of a healing and life-affirming antidote, and Dresden officials extended an invitation to Williams to develop a parallel piece. Columbus

Sister Cities International, Dresden Sister City Inc., and the New York Foundation for the Arts provided seed money. VISUALIZING BREATH

Inhale, exhale––your chest rises and falls as your lungs take in air and release it. How can this bodily function be translated into the medium of light? The development of energy-efficient light-emitting diodes (LED) technology revolutionized creative lighting design, paving the way in 2002 for Apple Computer to develop, as a sleep-mode indicator, a slowly pulsing light



City administrations and the public, both resident and visiting, embraced Breath of Life with a tremendously appreciative reception. The viewer felt an immediate kinship with the slow and familiar rise and fall of the luminosity; the measured quality

presented a meditative environment, allowing the viewer to experience the grace and beauty of an historic structure in a whole new way. As a trained architect, Williams not only understands light as the medium that shapes form, but he also appreciates buildings at a professional level and supports historic preservation. Says Williams, “As both an artist and an architect, I’ve felt the poetry and living presence of architecture. Buildings stand in silent witness to history unfolding around them.” The Dresden project became a personal passion for Williams. He obtained basic grant support, as well as his hotel stays and pro bono marketing by the Berlin-based PR firm WildKat. However, when fundraising fell short, the artist dipped into his own life savings to offer Dresden an emotional remembrance of lives lost with a reaffirmation of peace and the magnificence of being. At the opening ceremony, Williams spoke, explaining he was “honored to be able to offer Breath of Life/Dresden as my gift to the City of Dresden, free and for all to see.” CHRISTINA LANZL, PHD, cofounder of the Urban Culture Institute,

works in the field of public art and is a cultural planner, author, and educator.

Photos © Craig Collins 2015.


Williams programmed a computerized “visual score” for Breath of Life/Dresden. It controlled periodic color shifts and changes in the pace and rhythm of the lighting that mimicked human breathing.


that rhythmically imitates breathing. And in 2011 Christopher Capener of Palm Inc. obtained the patent for “adaptive brightness control of a display.” Artists, including Williams, have been exploring light as an artistic medium for decades. Williams completed his first and largest light installation more than 20 years ago in the hills of Northern California. There, Luminous Earth Grid (1993) imposed a matrix of luminous squares over the topography of eight acres of grassland, an area equal to eight football fields. The concept of breathing architecture for Breath of Life emerged in 2009 while he maintained a studio in Paris, leading to the creation of Paris & New York Light Plumes. Conceptually, the Breath of Life installation can be linked to the indoor architectural lighting design installations of Dan Flavin and Robert Irwin, as well as the poetic outdoor and building scenarios of Leni Schwendinger and James Turrell.



80 ON LOCATION ABOVE: Redesign of the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial includes a park over a highway connecting the Gateway Arch with St. Louis’s Old Courthouse, and more than five miles of accessible pedestrian pathways. FOLLOWING PAGES: The Gateway Arch, designed by Eero Saarinen, was completed in 1965.


The Arch Turns 50 New grounds show off Saarinen’s modernist masterpiece


Brooklyn landscape architecture firm Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates (MVVA), winner of the 2010 design competition to redesign the Arch grounds and the Gateway Mall, has managed to pay homage to Saarinen in subtle ways. Though the end walls of the lid over I-44 play a practical purpose in dampening traffic noise, they’re also beautiful: they’re based on the curved, sweeping highway overpasses that were part of Saarinen’s unrealized designs for Dulles Airport in Washington, D.C. “We realized we could bring in some of the midcentury modern swoops and curves, if we could get the Missouri

Department of Transportation to splay the girders underneath the bridge,” says James Smith, senior associate at MVVA. “They had to switch to steel girders, which was a big deal for them, but amazingly, they said, ‘Oh, okay, yeah!’” Though the exterior of the walls is “highway paint color”— dull gray—the interior will be sandblasted to reveal red concrete made from the area’s red clay soil, echoing the orange cast of the aggregate concrete walkways. Showcasing local materials was, Smith says, “one of our moments of practicing our hand at a little bit of modernism.” He’s quick to add that MVVA’s designs are not “trying to be sister or brother to the Arch” or challenge the original design in any way—just enhance it. For instance, MVVA’s pathways in the park, which will lead up to a new semicircular, glass-walled museum entrance, are laid out in an arc. “It’s more of a framing type of path,” Smith says, “an approach, pointing towards the Arch. What those curves are trying to do is not necessarily mimic an arch shape on the ground, but frame the views. A symmetrical layout is important, so you do end up with an arching shape.” GREENING THE GROUNDS

MVVA’s stamp, Smith says, comes more in the guise of ecological innovations, which include plans for soil improvement and bioswales. The crowning achievement will be the rain garden writ large that the two 30,000-gallon cisterns will help irrigate atop the I-44 lid. “We’re implementing all of these different landscaping practices on the ground that will change the way this park is maintained,” says Ryan McClure, communications director at CityArchRiver. That includes minimizing storm runoff into the reflecting ponds and the river, using predator bugs in place of pesticides, and fertilizing trees with spent grain donated by the Anheuser-Busch brewery in lieu of chemicals. The 800 Rosehill ash trees that once grew alongside the processional walkways were taken out last fall. Planted in the 1970s over construction infill, they were never really healthy and would have eventually succumbed to emerald ash borers. A nursery is growing 800 London plane trees, which are similar to the American sycamore, as replacements. “We felt very strongly that the London plane tree, with its strong visual characteristics and its mottled bark and the way its limbs kind of frame, or create an over-arching space, would be the best choice,” Smith says. “There are just not any other trees that will, in that great number, create the same arcade of arching limbs towards the arch.” Saarinen and landscape architect Dan Kiley had chosen tulip poplars, which were vetoed when work on the grounds began


To mark the fiftieth anniversary of “Topping Out Day”—the harrowing placement of the keystone into the St. Louis Gateway Arch on October 28, 1965—a metaphorical keystone will drop into place with the completion of the new Park Over the Highway. Long severed from downtown St. Louis by Interstate 44, the Arch will finally be connected—by a pedestrian greenway—to the city for which it has so long stood as an iconic symbol. In addition, the grounds around the Arch, known formally as the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial (in a nod to Thomas Jefferson’s pivotal role in the Louisiana Purchase), are undergoing a major renovation, as is the Museum of Westward Expansion (beneath the Arch), which is closed until February 2016. This past summer, the floor-to-ceiling seventh-story windows of the CityArchRiver Foundation, the private-public partnership guiding the $380 million redesign process, offered a bird’s-eye view of the bustling construction grounds. Excavators were digging deep to place two 30,000-gallon cisterns that will retain and filter storm water to irrigate the landscaping. The scene was somewhat reminiscent of the riverfront in 1941, when 37 blocks or so of historic buildings had been cleared to make way for the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial, but because war was imminent, St. Louis wasn’t able to shake federal funds loose to start construction. The riverfront remained a gigantic, packed-dirt parking lot for years. There wasn’t even a hard plan for the site until 1948, the year that Eero Saarinen won the design competition with his sleek, catenary arch. But the landmark structure would not be completed until 1965—a sight that Saarinen, who died of a brain tumor in 1961, would not live to see. Today, from the CityArchRiver Foundation offices, the panoramic view is spectacular. You can see right through the legs of the Arch to the other bank of the Mississippi, where three times a day, the 630-foot-tall plume of the Gateway Geyser in East St. Louis—it’s the same height as the Arch—erupts on the horizon.


OPPOSITE: Image courtesy CityArchRiver Foundation/MVVA, Inc. FOLLOWING PAGES: Photo by John Hilliard (praetoriansentry) / flickr / Creative Commons license.







Photos © Craig Collins 2015





in 1970. (Evidently, they drop their leaves in the heat.) The rest of the Arch grounds are fairly true to the original design, which MVVA respected as well. They didn’t, for example, alter the shape of Kiley and Saarinen’s reflecting ponds.

The new museum’s footprint will be expanded by 45,000 square feet and will feature cutting-edge interactive digital exhibits by UK-based Haley Sharpe Designs (who created the exhibits for the visitor center at another iconic public art site: Stonehenge).



Some changes, however, have helped enhance the original design. For example, the old cement Arch parking garage was demolished this spring. That did more than free up real estate— it got rid of a physical and psychological barrier between the Arch and the surrounding neighborhoods. “It had an island effect,” McClure says. The riverfront walk will also be updated: CityArchRiver, partnering with Great Rivers Greenway, raised Leonor K. Sullivan Boulevard 2.5 feet to mitigate flooding. Ironically, construction was delayed for several weeks this June due to flooding; however, as McClure says, it gave them the opportunity to see how the sidewalks, light fixtures, and railings held up (very well, as it turns out). One thing that will stay untouched is the Grand Staircase, though MVVA designed two graceful East Slope Pathways alongside it. “Before, there was no way to get between the Arch grounds and the riverfront without taking those sixty-one steps of the staircase,” McClure says. Now, the riverfront walk will be handicap accessible for the first time in the site’s history. When the Arch turns 50 this October, the river-walk elevation will be finished, the Park Over the Highway will open, and the grounds themselves will be complete. We will have to wait another year or two to experience the addition to Saarinen’s underground museum, the circular, glass-walled Museum of Westward Expansion, designed by New York–based Cooper Robertson with James Carpenter Design Associates and St. Louis– based Trivers Associates. McClure says that the Arch will stay open throughout the museum’s construction, though it will be closed two months next year for maintenance.

How will the building of the Arch go down in history? With the impending anniversary quickly approaching, contemporary writers have felt pained to point out that the process was, at points, a bit less perfect than has sometimes been portrayed. As Jim Merkel noted in his 2014 book, The Making of an Icon, there are actual wrinkles in the metal skin of the upper part of the Arch, visible to the naked eye. And both Merkel and Tracy Campbell, author of The Gateway Arch, write about how neighborhood clearance and funding for the Arch’s construction were made possible by political graft and not one but two fraudulent bond elections. Initially, lots of St. Louisans were hostile to the Arch. For a city still recovering from the Depression, using public funds for a big piece of public art seemed not just frivolous but offensive. The constant delays in construction didn’t impress them much, either. It’s testament to the genius of Saarinen’s design that those complaints have faded from memory, as has the controversy that erupted almost immediately after Saarinen won the competition: he was accused of plagiarizing Italian architect Adalberto Libera’s giant arch for the 1942 Rome Exposition, which was an homage to Fascism. In contrast, today, there’s palpable excitement over the revamped grounds and the new museum. The concerns of St. Louisans are much more prosaic: people have wondered, where’d that stuffed buffalo go? Never fear, McClure says: the crowd favorite in the Museum of Westward Expansion has a new home at a National Park Service site in Kansas.


STEFENE RUSSELL is the culture editor of St. Louis Magazine.

Image courtesy CityArchRiver Foundation / MVVA, Inc.




TOP: Image courtesy CityArchRiver Foundation / Cooper Robertson and James Carpenter Design Associates. BOTTOM: Image courtesy CityArchRiver Foundation / MVVA, Inc.


OPPOSITE: The new plan retains the historic Grand Staircase connecting the grounds of the Arch to the riverfront. ABOVE: The Museum of Westward Expansion beneath the Arch is undergoing major renovation, expanding by 45,000 square feet. RIGHT: Redesign of the grounds will entail the addition of new landscaping, including 800 London plane trees, and new sloping, accessible pathways.

BOOKS Publications and Reviews

Creative Space-Making Liquid Spaces explores immersive, sensory, artist-designed places BY JEN DOLEN THE “LIQUID SPACES” PRESENTED IN THIS VOLUME CAN BE FOUND in galleries and


museums, temporary outdoor sites, built structures, and other artful environments. All are immersive, interactive, richly sensory environments, as opposed to distant, passive, or stoic installations. These are places that linger in memory: fleeting, provocative, light infused, and optically inspired. In four sections—Geometric (line and surface work), Ephemeral (light and sensation), Theatrical (drama and illusion), and Immersive (inviting curiosity and integrating natural design)—this collection selects spaces whose design techniques and sensory elements engage with the co-creation of active audiences. Stunning standouts include Serpentine Gallery Pavilion (2013) by Sou Fujimoto Architects, where green foliage blurs with a thin, white, linear structure of repeating cubes (London); Light is Time, where DGT architects

filled a dark space with 80,000 individually simple, but collectively dazzling, twinkling gold watch parts (Milan); Miguel Chevalier’s Digital Arabesques (2014), a ground projection of morphing multicolored patterns referencing Islamic culture, which interacts with walkers along the Al Majaz Waterfront (Sharjah, United Arab Emirates); JeeYoung Lee’s transformation of her three-by-six-meter artist studio into Nightscape, a stage for her dreams to exist as colorfully immersive abstract vignettes (Seoul); and Numen / For Use’s String Vienna, a massive blue string grid suspended in white space and able to support several people in a world where depth and dimension flatten and expand (Vienna). JEN DOLEN is a photographer, writer, and

librarian-in-training based in Minneapolis/St. Paul, and is an editorial assistant for Public Art Review.

DGT architects’ Light is Time (2014), made from 80,000 twinkling gold watch parts.

Photo by Takuji Shimmura.



Liquid Spaces: Scenography, Installations and Spatial Experiences Sven Ehmann, Sofia Borges, and Robert Klanten, eds. Berlin: Gestalten, April 2015


Let There Be Light A new volume explores the use of artful lighting in design and architecture BY JESSICA FIALA THROUGH MANY HUES AND TECHNIQUES,

light can transform a place—it can bathe broadly, outline sharply, paint immaterially, and highlight presence or absence. Situated at the intersection of architecture, light, and public art, SuperLux traces the evolution and diversity of projects that explore these possibilities in the public realm. It is an image-rich and extensive overview of contemporary light-based projects from around the world as well as an historical introduction that touches on architectural theory, art history, and technological developments in lighting, projection, and video. Essays and featured projects begin with architectural and projection pieces that “sculpt light” on a large scale, creating massive imprints on landscapes and urban terrains. When the vantage point is shifted to environments—from parks to alleyways, un-

derpasses, and plazas—light has the potential to enliven spaces after dark, improve safety, or add character. Ending on a human scale, the book explores public artworks that range from immersive worlds to serene encounters to interactive play. As lighting features become an established part of shared nightscapes, questions arise regarding increased energy consumption, light pollution, and the expansion of advertising and branding. Light can seem like a magical means of reinvigorating urban spaces, but as SuperLux highlights, it remains connected to the many debates, histories, and responsibilities that face public projects.

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


SuperLux: Smart Light Art, Design & Architecture for Cities Davina Jackson, ed. New York: Thames & Hudson, November 2015



Shaping the Land A new film explores the work of “land art” pioneers



Troublemakers: The Story of Land Art Written, directed, and produced by James Crump Release Date: January 2016



photograph copyright © Angelika Platen, 2014

IN THE LATE 1960s AND EARLY 1970s, several


New York artists revolted against the traditional gallery scene, leaving the city behind to create and experiment in the rugged and remote land of the American Southwest. Troublemakers focuses on the three storied artists who spearheaded the land art movement: Michael Heizer, Walter de Maria, and Robert Smithson. Also featured are the artists and curators Germano Celant, Dennis Oppenheim, Nancy Holt, Vito Acconci, Virginia Dwan, Charles Ross, Paula Cooper, Willoughby Sharp, Pamela Sharp, Lawrence Weiner, Carl Andre, Gianfranco Gorgoni, and Harald Szeemann. Works of land art did not fit into a traditional gallery environment, but they did not exist in a vacuum. Troublemakers shows how the context of the movement included curators with the vision to bring contemporary artists together, as varied as they were in their methods, as they explored related concepts. Much

attention is spent on the groundbreaking international exhibition at Cornell University, Earth Art (1969), where the movement exploded in significance and influence internationally. Not only were gallery walls too confining to explore land art concepts, artists like Heizer, De Maria, and Smithson flourished in the uniquely American setting of vast, open land in the Southwest. The enormity of the works that the land allowed, along with the susceptibility to nature of alterations made by man, revealed the relatively small scale of a human being. While sweeping vistas from the air show dramatic and clear views of the artists’ cuts and manipulations of the earth, artworks like these, which addressed metaphysical concepts and conflicts of the era, were meant to be experienced from within. SHAUNA DEE is the information and com-

munications coordinator at Forecast Public Art.


LEFT: An aerial view of Robert Smithson’s Spiral Jetty (1970) in Utah's Great Salt Lake. BELOW: Charles Ross constructing Star Axis (1976) near Las Vegas, New Mexico.

BOTTOM LEFT: Photo ©Elizabeth Ginsberg, used by permission. BOTTOM RIGHT: Photo ©David Maisel. Art ©Holt Smithson Foundation/Licensed by VAGA, New York. Courtesy Institute, Venice, California.



Streetwise Trespass lets the works of street artists speak for themselves BY MEGAN GUERBER TRESPASS OPENS WITH A QUOTE from a sur-

prising source, Queen Mary: “My one regret in life is that I have never climbed over a fence.” It is exactly this challenge, or invitation, that the art within this book engages. Reclaiming public space from the pollution of widespread advertisements, disrupting the unquestioned systems of control in urban environments, and projecting the ignored voices of society are not tasks for the meek. Indeed, such art-making involves considerable risk; yet the interventions featured here thrive on the fact that if you break all the rules, there is nothing holding you back. In this portable redesign of Taschen’s original 2010 publication, Trespass celebrates the thrill of this potential with stunning documentation and limited art historical context, making for an exciting visual read. In addition to graffiti, Trespass includes several performative pieces, such as David Hammons’s quiet critique, Bliz-aard Ball Sale

(1983), and Improv Everywhere’s uncanny Human Mirror (2008), as well as environmental interruptions such as Richard Reynolds’s “guerrilla gardening” movement. The works are arranged broadly by what Carlo McCormick describes as “shared concerns.” Short essays divide the book into seven sections that introduce themes such as rebellion, satire, memorialization, and urban folk. Apart from these structural groupings, the works speak largely for themselves. Likewise, famous artists such as Keith Haring, Swoon, and the Guerrilla Girls are mixed in among lesser-known risk-takers throughout the world. Though largely focused on New York City, Trespass offers a rich ocular resource for those interested in the vast field of uncomissioned urban art. MEGAN GUERBER is a writer, curator, and

project manager based in Minneapolis.


Trespass: A History of Uncommissioned Urban Art Ethel Seno (ed.) with Carlo McCormick and Marc and Sara Schiller Los Angeles: Taschen, June 2015



Promoting the Political Creative Time curator Nato Thompson makes a case for art that makes an impact BY ROBB MITCHELL


Seeing Power: Art and Activism in the 21st Century Nato Thompson Brooklyn: Melville House, 2014




lamented that the rise of abstract expressionism coincided with the fall of politically didactic painting—the kind of paintings that de Francia, Picasso (Guernica), Francis Bacon, George Grosz, and others made to illustrate the twentieth-century horrors of Hitler’s and Franco’s atrocities and to sound a hu e cri for social justice in fascism’s face. Abstract expressionism, in contrast, advanced the artistic act, not social change, as its product. With resignation, de Francia concluded that “paintings don’t change people, innovative architecture, spaces in which we live, and physical design surrounding us is far more immersive thus revolutionary.” In this examination of cultural capital, Nato Thompson begins by describing the evolution of nineteenth-century industrial capitalism into the age of seductive consumption—quaint nostalgia in the Internet age of declining earnings, fast credit, and outsourced labor. In contrast, the World War II generation of political-activist artists had lucidity, cause, and resolve that is long gone today. In 1981, de Francia appeared dispirited in his quest to speak truth to power because our public attention had shifted and myths of significance had been reappropriated by consumerism.

Thompson promises “actionable insights” and a “fundamentally practical set of criteria” for social activism, and after leading us down pathways intersecting the didactic and ambiguous, he hails the aesthetics of openness. Among the projects he cites as examples are public performances of Stealing Beauty (2007) by Guy Ben-Ner, which consisted of short dramas shot guerrilla-style in IKEA showrooms; and International Airport Montello (2006) by the artist collective eteam, which featured an intervention in an abandoned airport with community members acting as terminal security and bar hosts; as well as the remounting of Waiting for Godot in post-Katrina New Orleans. Thompson’s short opus of interwoven essays delivers a superb overview of contemporary art’s theoretical preoccupations as well as its actions.

ROBB MITCHELL has written about arts

and culture in Minnesota for more than 30 years and currently works with PLACE: Projects Linking Arts, Community & Environment to develop sustainable and affordable artist eco-villages.

PUBLIC ART thrives in

KANSAS CITY, Mo. WWW. K C M O. G OV/ generalservices/ municipal-artcommission







The River


Prairie Logic

Terpsichore for Kansas City

BOOKS PEOPLE COVERT TO OVERT: The Under/Overground Art of Shepard Fairey Shepard Fairey New York: Rizzoli, 2015

THEASTER GATES Survey by Lisa Lee; interview by Carol Becker; focus by Achim Borchardt-Hume; artist’s writings by Theaster Gates London: Phaidon, 2015

DOUG AITKEN: Sculptures Steve Erickson; Lionel Bovier, ed. Zurich: JRP|Ringier Kunstverlag AG, dist. New York: ARTBOOK | D.A.P, 2015 Since Doug Aitken’s work deals with text and interfaces, it seems especially appropriate that this thoughtful collection forges a new narrative. Designed in Aitken’s studio, the book combines 98 striking images of his sculptural work of the past 14 years with a series of short texts by novelist Steve Erickson. Full information on the pictured works appears at the back like an exhibition key.

Joseph Remnant’s hand-drawn graphic-novel retelling of JR’s street art career in Paris introduces the renowned photomuralist in this first major monograph, which features text by curator Nato Thompson. Five hundred illustrations—including previously unpublished photos of JR’s Paris and New York studios—show large-scale portrait-based installations in process and on view in urban settings around the world.

OUT OF NOW: The Lifeworks of Tehching Hsieh (updated edition) Adrian Heathfield, Tehching Hsieh London: Live Art Development Agency, and Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2009, 2015 In New York between 1978 and 1986, Taiwanese-American artist Tehching Hsieh undertook a series of five yearlong performances: he was confined in a cell, punched a time clock every hour, lived without shelter, was tied to another artist by an eight-foot rope, and abstained from all art. He showed no work during a sixth performance from 1986 to 1999. Adrian Heathfield introduces each piece with art historical touchstones, and serial images convey duration. An exchange with the artist and letters from Marina Abramovic and others enrich Out of Now.



as Social Practice A critical investigation of works by Kenneth A. Balfelt EDITED BY MATTHIAS HVASS BORELLO

ART AS SOCIAL PRACTICE: A Critical Investigation of Works by Kenneth A. Balfelt Matthias Hvass Borello, ed. Berlin: Revolver Publishing, 2015 Five collaborative projects by Danish artist Kenneth A. Balfelt from the past 12 years are presented in photos and diagrams and evaluated through interviews with participants in Art As Social Practice. Essays and a manifesto by Balfelt precede the project section, and a critical consideration of social practice from the perspectives of an artist, a critic, and a curator follows.

CONSTELLATION Melissa McGill with Sam Anderson, Richard Blanco, Hadrien Coumans, Tracy K. Smith, Edwin Torres, and Jeffrey Yang New York: Princeton Architectural Press, 2015 Above the Bannerman Castle ruin on a Hudson River island north of New York City, Melissa McGill’s Constellation has lit up every night since June. Like the artwork, this book establishes a constellation of its own—incorporating history, geography, and poetry as well as photography of the site and installation. A series of twosided works on paper by McGill with writer Sam Anderson is reproduced.

THE HIGH LINE James Corner Field Operations; Diller, Scofidio and Renfro London: Phaidon, 2015 Tracing the design process behind New York’s popular High Line, this wide landscape volume reflects the park’s form. A conversation with the designers, James Corner Field Operations and Diller, Scofidio, and Renfro, in three parts—forethoughts, process, and afterthoughts—structures the book’s 1,000 color illustrations, from historic ephemera and site photos to previously unpublished proposal drawings and exclusive construction images.


JR: Can Art Change the World? JR London: Phaidon, 2015

With a background in urban planning and pottery, Chicago-based artist Theaster Gates has developed spaces to host studios, archives, and events while continuing to create objects and installations. This first comprehensive monograph on Gates illuminates his expanded practice through an interview, studio visit, 220 illustrations, and his writings. Achim Borchardt-Hume considers Gates’s take on the ready-made, and Lisa Lee’s survey situates the work theoretically.


Recent collaborations spanning cultures and media—from prints and murals to installations, events, and clothing—demonstrate Shepard Fairey’s evolution from his 1980s street-art roots. With text from Russell Brand and others, Covert to Overt presents previously unpublished work from the past several years, organized in sections such as “Revolutions” and “Americana,” as well as by year and city.


THEORY LAND|SLIDE: POSSIBLE FUTURES: A Public Art Intervention Janine Marchessault, Chloë Brushwood Rose, Jennifer Foster, and Aleksandra Kaminska, eds. Toronto: PUBLIC, 2015; ABC Art Books Canada



THE ART OF PUBLIC SPACE: Curating and Re-imagining the Ephemeral City Kim Gurney London: Palgrave MacMillan, 2015 The Goethe-Institut South Africa’s 2011–2012 project New Imaginaries sought to open space for art in post-apartheid Johannesburg, where political and social divisions persist. Three festivals—Shoe Shop; A MAZE. Interact; and Spines—focused on walking, media, and performance in the city. The result of a partnership with the African Centre for Cities at the University of Cape Town, The Art of Public Space explores New Imaginaries through artist Kim Gurney’s research.

Over three weeks in 2013, 30 artists from around the world gathered at the Markham Museum and Heritage Village in Ontario to produce site-specific works focused on multiculturalism, sustainability, and community for the exhibition Land|Slide: Possible Futures. A curatorial statement from Janine Marchessault opens this catalogue, which intersperses artist statements and full-bleed project photos with essays on current cultural and environmental issues.

EVOLVING INTENTIONS IN PUBLIC ART Christy Hengst Santa Fe, NM: Axle Contemporary, 2015

ART OF BURNING MAN NK Guy Cologne, Germany: Taschen, 2015

Evolving Intentions in Public Art provides transcripts of a conference co-sponsored with Axle Contemporary and held at the Center for Contemporary Arts in Santa Fe on September 13, 2014. Responding to a lack of dialogue around “creating your own map” in the field of public art, Christy Hengst invited local artists to talk about their public projects and participate in a roundtable discussion.

NK Guy’s stunning photos show intricate, fantastical structures at Burning Man backlit at sunrise and ablaze against the night sky. For 16 years, the weeklong festival has brought an experimental community to Nevada’s Black Rock Desert. Short texts by NK Guy offer accounts of particular projects and events and outline the festival’s history and operating principles.


SYSTEMS: Models and Methods in Twentieth-Century Art Edward A. Shanken, ed. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2015

ROBERT SMITHSON IN TEXAS Leigh A. Arnold, Amy Von Lintel, Jonathan Revett; foreword by Maxwell L. Anderson; Elyse Goldberg, ed. New York: Estate of Robert Smithson and James Cohan Gallery, dist. ARTBOOK | D.A.P, 2015 The 2013 Robert Smithson in Texas exhibition at the Dallas Museum of Art chronicled the artist’s work in the state beginning in 1966 when he consulted on an unrealized plan for the Dallas–Fort Worth Regional Airport. Smithson went on to propose projects near Dallas and Houston, and his final work, Amarillo Ramp, was completed after his death in 1973. This catalogue features two essays, process drawings, photos, and film stills.

WHERE THE HEAVEN FLOWERS GROW: The Life and Art of Leonard Knight Aaron Huey with Leonard Knight Seattle, WA: Outsider Books, 2015 Aaron Huey’s photographs open a window onto the world of outsider artist Leonard Knight, whose monumental Salvation Mountain he documented for five years. For 28 years, Knight lived in an old fire truck near California’s Salton Sea, while he built up the mountain with hand-painted recycled materials and gave tours to the curious. This beautiful book contains a letter from Knight and unbound folios—each enclosing a quote from him—printed with 88 color images.

Joining over 30 volumes in the Documents of Contemporary Art series, this new anthology follows the influence of systems theory on art from the 1950s and 1960s to the contemporary, covering artists, composers, and writers such as Hans Haacke, John Cage, and Jack Burnham. Texts by thinkers from Buckminster Fuller to Bruno Latour compose five thematic sections.

POLITICS & PROTEST ARTWASH: Big Oil and the Arts Mel Evans London: Pluto Press, dist. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2015 Oil companies like Chevron, ExxonMobil, BP, and Shell have begun to “art wash” by donating to cultural institutions in an attempt to win back public approval. In Artwash, Mel Evans addresses the impact of oil sponsorship on these institutions, considering economic and public relations aspects, focusing on BP at Tate as a case study, and venturing into protest strategies.


VISUAL IMPACT: Creative Dissent in the 21st Century Liz McQuiston London: Phaidon, 2015


Lexi Lee Sullivan, curator of the 2015 exhibition Walking Sculpture 1967–2015 at the deCordova Sculpture Park, introduces the concept of walking in art practice with historical precedents. The exhibition encompasses sculpture, photography, video, and performance by 19 artists including Sharon Hayes and Bruce Nauman, and the catalogue features 50 color illustrations as well as several poems from Cole Swensen’s manuscript On Walking On.

MURAL XXL Claudia Walde New York: Thames & Hudson, 2015 In Mural XXL, Claudia Walde investigates the involved processes behind extra-extra-large murals of recent years. Short texts introduce a selection of international artists, whose work ranges from abstract to representational, naturalistic to expressionistic. A world map highlights noteworthy murals, while 275 color photos show murals close up and in their larger contexts.



Art and design have had a powerful social and political impact in the twenty-first century, addressing issues like war, economic crises, and natural disaster. In Visual Impact, Liz McQuiston looks at recent cases of violence and unrest in Egypt, Syria, Iran, Spain, Greece, the U.S., Russia, Turkey, Brazil, the U.K., and China. Work in the street, the gallery, and the digital realm by artists including Ai Weiwei, Shepard Fairey, and anonymous practitioners fills 400 color images.

WALKING SCULPTURE 1967–2015 Lexi Lee Sullivan with contributions by Cole Swensen and Helen Mirra Lincoln, MA: deCordova Sculpture Park and Museum, dist. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2015



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Your essential guide to contemporary public art. Visit to subscribe and purchase limited-edition back issues. issue 45 • fall/winter 2011



Ai Weiwei Janet Zweig Mel Bochner Donald Lipski Stephen Korns

Public Art Review

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ARTIST AS LEADER Frances Whitehead on being lead artist for The 606, Chicago’s massive public works project


CULTURE IN MOTION Anish Kapoor’s inflatable concert hall CITY AS STAGE Performance art in Cape Town


WHERE PEOPLE GATHER The Confluence Project: Maya Lin at the Columbia River


TRULY EPHEMERAL Meet the artists who draw in sand and snow $16.00 USD

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BIG VISION JR talks about boundaries, limits, seeing people, and being bold



Public Art Review

Barbara Grygutis Kansas City, Missouri

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Issue 53 • Norway • Museums Go Public • The Arch at 50 • Arabian Artscape

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LEADING THE WAY Norway invests in art addressing violence, climate change, forgiveness, and compassion


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Jasmeen Patheja: Interview | Jennifer Wen Ma: Profile | Marina Abramovic: Project




Ritual River Repurposing local pottery to showcase environmental issues BY JEN DOLEN

a river of clay objects streamed across the steps of the India Habitat Centre in New Delhi in early 2015. Previously installed in South Africa, the latest in Manav Gupta’s Excavations in Hymns of Clay series calls attention to the use of global resources, makes a nod to spirituality, and references the relentless power of water. The installation is slated to appear in the U.S., Europe, and Southeast Asia in 2016. Flowing across the architecture en masse, pottery poured over the steps, embracing the staircase like water and, according to Gupta, “denoting the symbolism of the passage of time as the river flows.” The pottery also offers a metaphor about how we use resources like water: “Taken for granted. Anointed when needed. Only revered when in use,” says Gupta. “And after its purpose is served, discarded and thrown and another one bought to serve the desires of the soul yet another day.” A poet, painter, and filmmaker as well as an installation artist, Gupta says the Time Machine in the title recalls “the mechanized lives we lead without respecting sustainable living and resources.”

Gupta draws attention to resource use by choosing as his raw material diyas (earthen lamps), chilam (clay pipes), and kullar (earthen cups). Purchased from poor potters at roadside stands, then used for prayer, these vessels have historically been used only once. According to the artist, the humble cups gain meaning through worship and to this day are still discarded after use, “to be immersed in the Ganga.” While a dip in the sacred Ganga is still seen as a purifier of sins, a river of disposable clay vessels speaks to how we choose to use (and sometimes misuse) the earth for our own purposes. JEN DOLEN, a photographer, writer and librarian-in-training

based in Minneapolis/St. Paul, is also an editorial assistant for Public Art Review.

For his work Rain, the Ganga Waterfront along the Time Machine, Indian artist Manav Gupta reused thousands of earthen cups. The installation will appear on three continents in 2016.

Photo courtesy the artist.


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