Last year's Reconfiguring Site resident, Leena Kejriwal, will be exhibiting her public art project tomorrow at the India Art Fair in New Dehli. Congratulations Leena!
When I saw the e-blast from Arts & Education announcing a two-week residency at School of Visual Arts called Reconfiguring Site, I knew I had to attend. I crossed my fingers and applied to summer school. For some time now I’ve been doing, what like to refer to as ”research and development” on a project that would involve placing a large, colorful aluminum sculpture in a public space. Experimenting with different materials and techniques, I worked to visualize my ideas on a small scale. But I was stuck. When it came to figuring out how to get a commission and funding to actually make the work, I didn’t know what steps to take.
This summer I participated in Reconfiguring Site: Art and Architecture—a residency at the School of Visual Arts in New York City. The program’s interdisciplinary approach attracted me, as did its emphasis on sensitivity to the nuance of site. Program coordinator Anita Glesta along with the faculty, Henry Kendal and Ed Woodham, all accomplished artists, offered a distinct perspective on making art in public spaces. I was left contemplating the responsibility of the artist to make work that considers its context, is socially engaged, and that will last over time.
Public art isn’t what it used to be. Plopping an object on a public plaza or a monumental sculpture or war memorial in a park is not enough. In New York City and elsewhere there are now a multitude of art forms that engage with public spaces. Among them is the “social practice,” a form of “art in the public” that’s a vehicle for artists to work in an interactive participatory way and it may not include making an object at all. Art works may serve food at a public venue, or there may be a boat traveling on a river with gardens that produce detoxifying agents. Some groups in the Occupy Wall Street movement include artists, many of whom would consider themselves social practice artists. Read more...