on public art

on the way to the park yesterday we passed by a public art piece that had a fountain component. my 3 year old asks, "what is that?" to which we promptly replied, "its art!" to which he promptly replied, "no its not, its just water", i always wonder how not just children view public art but how different populations respond to it. there was a piece in the park with two metal chairs atop two long tall sticks, what does it mean i wondered? is it an isolated object and should i just appreciate it for that? why does everything always have to mean something to me...i'm sure it has different meanings for different people? why do 90% of the calls for public art insist on something in metal its a perceived permanent materal...but what is the place for things that aren't permanent.

" who is the audience for public art? how can public art represent the public when there are many publics?"

"For an activist artist, the trick is not to allow the ritual to become so compelling, so much a world unto itself, so repeatable that it pushes aside the issues that inspired it. One way to deal with this problem is by making the ritual ephemeral" both quotes from Sculpture Chicago's book Culture in Action.

the last quote was in reference to the inital Street-Level video crew project where teens from a local high school made 40 videos about their daily lives, on subjects ranging from gang life to their families to the gradual gentrification of their neighborhood,the Neutral Ground project, gave a voice to rival gang members, who used cameras to craft video letters to strike a temporary truce.. A giant community block party, with 70 television monitors lining the street playing the students' works became an insitution in the west town community. Street-Level is a full fledged organization now. i don't know that every participatory art project needs to become an organization but it certainly seems that projects such as the block party and the digital installations that make it up, that have a limited time, a place, and target specific issue can be an effective tool for mobilizing people around that issue...i definitely want to be involved in creating situations not just objects.

anyway speaking of fountains, wish i could find a good picture of this


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