Art and Public Spaces: our theme for 2017

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Warten den Fluss von Observatorium © Roman Mensing, Emscherkunst

In 2017 sculpture network will address the topic  “Art in Public Spaces” during all of its programmes taking place throughout Europe. This, of course, includes start’17, the annual international festival designed to celebrate and promote contemporary sculpture which will be hosted on Sunday, 29 January at 70 locations worldwide. Each venue has a personalized programme relevant to this year’s overall theme.

Prof. Florian Matzner of the Art Academy of Munich is the Curator of this series of events. From his point of view there is an urgent need for a new awareness among the general population for art in public spaces.

Chiosco von Benjamin Bergmann © Roman Mensing, Emscherkunst

Art and Public Spaces - A Catalogue of Requirements
By
Florian Matzner

„A work of art is not created at a location, rather the location itself is the work of art,“ proclaimed Robert Smithson in the 60’s and thus provided a simple but concrete indication of the relationship between art and public spaces. However, much has changed since then: The boom of site-specific art in the 80’s and early 90’s was followed by cross over, audience-oriented art and service-oriented art.  Today - at the beginning of the 21st century - modern art is not only stuck in a dilemma, but the entire western world seems to be coming apart at the seams: worldwide media forces, ever increasing streams of refugees, global economic crisis, international terrorism.  And art?  The retreat of artists and curators to theoretical discussions at numerous congresses and workshops is, for the time being, appropriate.  Nevertheless, perspectives for the future of public art must be developed and realized quickly.

Lucy & Jorge Orta, „Observer“, Teil der „Spirits of the Emscher Valley“ © Roman Mensing, Emscherkunst

Art and Architecture
As a result of the plea for cross-over in visual arts since the mid-90’s the younger generation of artists in particular have devoted themselves to the relationship between architecture and urban planning. The days when good art was often misused for the representation and decoration of mediocre architecture are long past.  There is more at stake now.  The withdrawl of humanity into their own four walls, largely caused by the so-called new media of home shopping, Internet, live chats and e-mails, assigns a great task to public space as a user-interface of human communication - the recovery of the city by its inhabitants, the confirmation of the city as a location of societal, economic, social and human activity.

Art and Cities
According to the newest studies large western European cities will continue to explode in the coming decades. In contrast smaller and medium-sized cities will ‘shrink’ considerably.  Add to this a modern-day nomadism, emigration and immigration and the separation of work and living areas. In the future the ‘classic’ guest worker of the 60’s and 70’s will be replaced by the foreign worker living in a pre-fabricated unit who, just like his family, does not know in excatly which metropolis he is at the moment.  Plus, there will also be the so-called televillages, settlements in which people no longer just live, but sit at their home office PC’s and, with the impending threat of losing all connections to reality,  no longer need to leave their apartment to go shopping because the groceries ordered via e-mail or text message are, naturally, delivered free of charge.  This means that in cities actual empty spaces, residual areas and non-sites will be created.  These can be viewed as an opportunity or a risk and can create important new areas of action for public art.

Nevin Aladag, Wellenbrecher @ Roman Mensing, Emscherkunst

Art and Public
With the continued anonymization and acceleration of day-to-day activities public spaces and the behaviour of people in them and with them has taken on a different quality.  In the ‘old’ days you might have closed the door to have a private telephone conversation; today urgent relationship problems are resolved in the tram with numerous witnesses listening. The slow-moving industrial society of the late 20th century has unexpectedly given way to the fast-paced information society of the early 21st century.  Or - to quote Bert Theis again – a „neoliberal stress society“, which believes the delusion that it deals with the ‘Time Factor’ more efficiently and economically than the previous generation had. It is exactly here that modern art has been assigned the task of exploring the issues of acceleration and deceleration and the line between them that is already starting to blur, as was previously described by Vito Acconci. „Time is fast and space is slow. Space is an attempt to place time and understand time, space is a need to have something to see....  Space is a desire to follow the course of events and to believe in cause and effect.“

European Dialogue series 2017

Rainer Jacob, leipzig liest, Leuschnerplatz, Leipzig, 2014

European Dialogue series 2017 “Art in Public Spaces”
This is a year-long series of local events  taking place throughout 2017 which includes experts’ talks, discussions and curated visits throughout Europe at multiple venues. sculpture network Dialogues offer the possibility of meeting others interested in sculpture in your region and ensure a local network of like-minded people with whom to establish professional ties.

Andreu Alfaro: Columnes (1999)
Visit to the sculpture trail of the Barcelona's University

Friday, 31.03.2017
15:00 - 18:00
Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona

Registration  Deadline: 29.03.2017

Olaf Kosinsky, dOCUMENTA 13, 2012

sculpture network goes to documenta14 and Skulptur Projekte Münster
From 29 June to 2 July 2017 sculpture network will lead a group on an exclusive art trip to discover the two biggest German art events of the year. Save the date!

Discover more

Steven Siegel, Freight and Barrel, Pittsburgh

Art in Public Spaces
2017 sculpture network programme

sculpture network start’17
, an annual international festival designed to celebrate and promote contemporary sculpture, will be the first event dealing with this year’s overall theme. It will take place on Sunday 29 January at 70 locations in 21 countries. Check for your nearest venue and its programme here

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