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  Research-based art >> Conference 2012 >> Thematic Windows >> Public Art  

Public Art – and its importance for a “culture of public life”

The development of democratic structures is also indicated by the attendant emergence of a culture of ‘public life’. Artistic interventions in the public sphere* continue to make their respective contributions to this culture through moments or processes that offer entertainment, prompt reflection and contemplation, stir the imagination or evoke emotional engagement and association.
Such moments and processes have trouble finding appropriate settings, above all in present-day urban contexts where public spaces tend to be occupied by traffic and advertising rather than offering a welcoming ambience to linger and spend time. At the same time, one can observe that artistic processes which are staged in the public sphere and make an impact on the culture of public life tend to break the conventional boundaries between the classical artistic genres by employing modern media that include projections, installations using sound, performative and/or participatory elements, etc.

On the evidence of successful artistic works produced in recent years, one can discern the potential contribution to the development of a culture of public life offered by Public Art. This can take the form of supporting attempts to appropriate the public realm, sharing in public communication and broadening perceptions of the public realm by imaginative or associative means, for example. In this respect, experience and conditions vary widely across the world.

The conceptual focus of the contributions will target on:

  1. The city as a space of cultural memory, which is inscribed with traces of reconstructed, discovered and more or less significant events. These events offer narrative material or are the basis of mystification; they are deciphered, rendered perceptible and visible.
  2. The space of cultural interaction, where as a result of dialogue-based artistic interventions the public sphere is stimulated, appropriated or is (can be) made a site of identification.

In this respect, experience and conditions for Public Art vary widely across the world. In view of the accelerating pace of globalization, we urgently recommend fostering an intercultural exchange on this subject, on a trans-regional or international level, with the aim of ascertaining differences, trading ideas and experience, and propagating support and commitment for this field of activity.

* Here, the “public sphere” is taken not merely in the sense of three-dimensional physical space but also in terms of social, economic and cultural contexts, and encompasses unoccupied, inactive space, virtual space, temporal space and institutional space.


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Place of Conference

Conference Center of
Schumannstraße 8,
10117 Berlin, Germany


Karte Research Based Art Heinrich Boell Foundation (National) Heinrich Boell Foundation (Schleswig-Holstein) European Commission - Education and Culture