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Where's the "Public" in Public Art

Three Narratives from documenta 14

Abstract

This paper analyses five public art projects exhibited in documenta 14 in Athens in 2017 that redefine and interact with the public space and therefore, form three different narratives on public space. These narratives are outlined according to the different interpretations of ‘public space’, ‘public sphere’ and democracy by the various artists. Our argument is structured as follows; firstly, we present an analysis of public art and its basic features drawing from contemporary literature. Secondly, we provide a number of key facts regarding documenta and documenta 14, outlining the main reasons we selected it as a reference point. Thirdly, we describe the three narratives about public space that we came up with after our field research and interviews with the respective artists: Sanja Iveković, Joar Nango, Rasheed Araeen, Mattin and Rick Lowe. We then discuss the relations between them and develop a model that unravels the way artists explore the public domain, look for locations, and redefine public space and the lived experience in the city. To do so, we engage with theoretical approaches as well as elaborations on specific artworks that engage the shifts and changes of the lived urban experience through art.

Published:
Pages:45 to 66
Section: Art and Activism
How to Cite
Liodaki, D. and Velegrakis, G. (2020) “Where’s the "Public" in Public Art”, The Journal of Public Space, 5(4), pp. 45-66. doi: https://doi.org/10.32891/jps.v5i4.1391.

Author Biographies

National Technical University of Athens, School of Architecture
Greece Greece

Danai Liodaki holds a BA in Dramatic Arts (Drama School of the Greek Art Theatre “Karolos Koun, Athens, Greece) and an integrated BA and MA in Architecture (Architecture School of National Technical University of Athens, Greece), and is currently a postgraduate student at the MSc in Architectural Design- Space- Culture (Architecture School of National Technical University of Athens, Greece). She is also an interdisciplinary artist, experienced in practice-based research and art/ cultural management. She has worked as actress and performer in Greece and abroad -including big-scale projects such as documenta 14. She has also experience in theatrical writing - just published her first theatrical play - and directing. In 2018 she co-founded the b.p.m. (beats per minute) theatre group and started working on theatrical production. Her research interests are public art, public space, social theatre and performance artistic practices in correlation with space and the city.

National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, Department of History and Philosophy of Science, School of Science
Greece Greece

Giorgos Velegrakis, MEng in Electrical and Computer Engineering (Electrical and Computer Engineering School, National Technical University of Athens, 2007), MSc in Environmental Policies and Development (Rural and Surveying Engineering, National Technical University of Athens, 2009), MSc in Urban and Spatial Planning (School of Architecture, National Technical University of Athens, 2012) and PhD in Geography and Political Ecology (Geography Department, Harokopio University Athens, 2018) is an adjunct faculty at the Philosophy and History of Science Department, National and Kapodistrian University of Athens. He is also an adjunct faculty at the Surveying and Geoinformatics Engineering Department, University of West Attica and a post-graduate researcher at the Institution of Meditteranean Studies (IMS-FORTH). Previously a Marie Curie doctoral fellow, he has considerable research experience on issues of relevance to the environment-society relationship. Parallel to completing his dissertation on “Extractivism and socio-ecological movements in times of crisis: The case of gold mining in Halkidiki, Greece”, he published and edited 8 books, 6 book chapters and 14 articles on issues of relevance to policy regarding extractivism, political ecology, radical geography, socio-environmental conflicts and movements, the commons, global sustainability transitions and STS. He is member of several academic and research initiatives and committees such as the European Network of Political Ecology – ENTITLE, Political Ecology Network – POLLEN, Radical Geography Notebooks, International Critical Geography Group – ICGG, RLS GWG “Beyond Development”, European Inter-University Association on Society, Science and Technology -ESST and the Research Network on History, Technology and Europe - Tensions of Europe (ToE).

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