Archive: Symposium on Public Art


"…OUT INTO THE BROAD DAYLIGHT OF COMMON SENSE". Prelude to a series of conversations on art in public spaces. Concept: Christian Kobald


Friedrich Schiller, On the Aesthetic Education of Man

Concept: Christian Kobald
Participants: Daniel Baumann, curator and critic; The Bruce High Quality Foundation, artist collective; Giovanni Carmine, curator, Kunst Halle, St. Gallen; Jeremy Deller, artist; Mona Hahn, artist and lecturer at the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna; Eva Kernbauer, art historian; Metahaven, studio for design research; Susanne Neuburger, curator, MUMOK Vienna; Florian Waldvogel, curator, Kunstverein in Hamburg;

Prelude to a series of conversations on art in public spaces


1 Institutionalisation [more recent developments in public art: manifestation as an artistic discipline; professionalisation, economisation and hybridification — i.e. docking onto institutional structures]

2 Institutionalisation and Approaches to the 'Public' [Perspectives of Institutionalisation and the 'Aesthetic Education of Man; 'Public' Practices: School and/or Intervention; the Power of Amateurism]

The symposium is accompanied by a publication/documentation in English and German.
Information about Public Art Lower Austria

Public Art today is not usually the product of a spontaneous artistic activity, nor of any one political and social issue being pursued by the artist/s concerned, instead it occurs within an institutional framework, it is supported by a reliable grant policy and accompanied by an academic programme of debate, documentation and mediation.

Is the subversive element that once hallmarked critical public art now a thing of the past? What is the impact of the internationally successful jet-setting curator or artist in the provinces?

Perhaps today there are two dominant forms of critical practice to be ascertained in the public realm: activist art with socially motivated community projects or interventions (between Jeremy Deller and WochenKlausur) and an educational model, the 'Schools' (Manifesta school, 'unitednationsplaza', 'Night School'/'Museum as Hub', institutions like Cubitt, Casco and BAK).

These are two concrete models, both of which pursue an Enlightenment-based concept of aesthetic education in their approach to the public realm, to address a 'today' and a collective 'we'.

In the case of the schools, with the use of academic forms of mediation (i.e. seminars, symposia, lectures and performances); in the case of activism with forms of intervention and amateurism – an art of action.

Why does public art take these two formal approaches? How do the two forms of approach tie together? A further basic question is: What is public in art; What is the connection between moral and political progress and aesthetic form; How does engagement with the public manifest itself in artistic practise? And what is the significance of these artistic public practices in an institutionalised context?


Christian Kobald is an artist, editor of spike art quarterly and, in collaboration with Severin Dünser, runs the exhibition space COCO in Vienna. He is a member of the jury for Kunst im öffentlichen Raum Niederösterreich (Public Art, Lower Austria).


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