Public Art Practice Cliodhna Shaffrey Sarah Searson Developed by Visual Artists Ireland Hosted by Dublin City Council’s LAB - November 2009
Outline for the Day Session 1: 10.30 – 1.00 pm Current Contexts – Approaches to public art practices Cliodhna Shaffrey and Sarah Searson 1.00 -40 Lunch – Emma Clarke, Artist Session 2: 1.40 – 3.30pm, Proposals Claire Nidecker, Mark Garry and Theresa Nanigian Session 3: 3.30pm -4.00pm Discussion - Realizing a commission: Public, Audience, Communication
10.30 Current contexts Approaches in public art practice: - New National Guidelines, (review) overview and implications. Commission practices 11.20 -12.00 Case studies Ten minute break 12.10 Mark Garry Artist presentation -considering dual contexts, audience, place and practice. 1.00 -1.40 Light lunch 1.40 -2.30 All about making proposals - Research & Responding to proposals Concepts and writing Budgeting Presentation Assessment 2.30-3.00 Claire Nidecker Artist Presentation using images and visual presentation in your proposal hints and tips. 3.00 -3.30 Theresa Nanigian Artist presentation 3.30 4.00 Audience and context: Introduction Ruairí Ó Cuív 15 -20 minute 4.00-4.30 Understanding organisations Realisation of projects/work - getting things on the right path; mediation around projects; When things go wrong. Q&A session chaired by Ruairí Ó Cuív, with Theresa Nanigan, Cliodhna Shaffrey, Claire Nidecker, Sarah Searson
Session: 1 Current contexts Approaches in public art practice: looking at current commissioning approaches and a range of artistic practices. considering: New National Guidelines, (review) overview and implications. Commission practices: - temporary and permanent Interdisciplinary work Curatorial directions Inter-agencies and partnerships Cliodhna Shaffrey and Sarah Searson
Richard Serra Tilted Arc, NY.1981 Removed and Destroyed, 1989 HISTORY LESSONS
The Tilted Arc, decision prompts general questions about public art, an increasingly controversial subject through the late 1980s and early 1990s in the U.S. and abroad. The role of government funding, an artist's rights to his or her work, the role of the public in determining the value of a work of art, and whether public art should be judged by its popularity are all heatedly debated. Serra's career continues to flourish, despite the controversy. "I don't think it is the function of art to be pleasing," he comments at the time. "Art is not democratic. It is not for the people.” Serra argued that his work was site-specific, but since the controversy others have argued that his work was not site-specific because it did not take the public as people (who used the space) into consideration.
SO WHAT IS IT FOR A WORK OF ART TO BE PUBLIC? Should the selection of art be driven by public taste? If a piece of public art is widely disliked by the community does that mean the art in question is a failure? WHAT is the intention for the work? Who is the public?
It is not the job of art to reach consensus across different 'publics'. Dominic Thorpe Discussion on public art might start from the recognition that complete consensus is impossible because the public comprises of many different subspheres, organisations and institutions , each with many voices in terms of race, gender, ethnicity, sexuality and class. Michael Kelly on the Serra and Lin cases It is art which is absolutely engaged with the world and this engagement often evokes spirited disagreement. Patricia C. Phillips
Michael Warren Gateway , Dun Laoghaire. 2004 Recently removed for pavement works
Remco de Fouw and Rachel Joynt Perpetual Motion, Naas Bypass 1996.
Project Mongrel, Cork, 2005 Organised by a group of artists and architects whose proposal was to stretch wire across Patrick Street, Cork. It is the task of public art to keep the debate alive Striving to arouse a consciousness of a passive public?
Meril Ukeles Landerman Touch Sanitation A seminal project where the artists become part of the NY sanitation dept. A voluntary residency that works with, supports and embraces the sanitation workers. Landerman’s residency lasted over 20 years beginning in 1973 and finishing in 1993 with a major work recylcing plant at Fish Kills Statton Island, NY
Seamus Nolan’s Hotel Ballymun, 2007 was made in close collaboration with a number of people, designers, furniture makers, artists and locals.
Patricia C. Phillips, former editor of Artforum Magazine writes:– 'public art excludes no media, materials, process or form, the work can be permanent or temporary, it can be commissioned through funding programmes, such as the percent for art scheme or initiated by artists requiring no sanction. With a broadening concept of public – it can happen almost anytime, with anyone and virtually anywhere…even in galleries, museums and private settings. Public art is always art'.
‘ artists don’t have to jump through the hoops of the funders and commissioners, they must come into situations with their own INTENTIONS, and let the challenging process of negotiation begin. Ailbhe Murphy speaking at TRADE 07
artist context (place/people) commissioner artwork
BOOM– significant available funding and opportunities for artists. RECESSION
Policy on public art national guidelines – 2004 and current review. FREEDOM
Local arts plans. BUT NO MONEY NOW
Public art specialists in local authorities (and their decline).
Flexibility for artists’ responses – decorative, site, functional socially engaged, process-research, event, social
Curated and programmatic approaches
Off-site artistic programmes-
Growth in number of small-scale festivals and curated events
Curated approach to commissioning
use of limited competition and direct commissions and the artists’ panel.
Professionalisation of artists practice and MA and PhD in Public Art / Contemporary Art
Situation – the specifics of context
Intention – the artists’ intention for the work / closeness to practice
Awareness of audience and (people)/ different kinds of audiences; Making demands on the public
Embedded in contemporary arts practice and artist’s ethos
An emphasis on the relational and more temporary artworks
The re-imergence of sculpture / permanent work (inside/ unmonumental/ subversive with new material and technology)
Collaborative practice and interdisciplinary approaches
All art form disciplines
Francis Alys describes the project, which involved the coordinated action of hundreds of volunteers on the arid dunes of Ventanilla, an area on the outskirts of Lima dotted with the makeshift shelters of a shantytown, as an attempt to interject a "social allegory" Into the cultural conversation that is Peru. Herein lies its peculiar strength: His work never tells any story in particular but rather crystallizes an image that demands storytelling as an active interpretive process. One day a mountain moved four inches. So begins a tale that we, the audience, must tell. The stories that are told become the work the event itself becomes almost mythical
Sean Lynch Peregrine Falcons visit Moyross, 2008
Rhona Byrne Umbrella Project , Dublin – guided walks, a film, photography, a book
CRITICAL DEBATES RAISED you’re asked to do something on the margin: you don’t get the main space, you’re put in the corner. Vito Acconci Essentialising communities ( Miwon Kwon) Confining art to set agendas Artist as Ethnographer ( Hal Foster/ Miwon Kwon ) Exploitation of participants. Grant Kestler / Miwon Kwon Education and improvement over solidarity Censorship Clare Dorothy Addressing issues of ownership – Rick Lowe (Project Row Houses, Texas) How does public art confront darker or more painful complicated considerations and not miss opportunities to act in solidarity? Grant Kester Whose history is represented? The lure of the local ( Lucy Lippard) nostalgic versions of place. Gentrification , displacement, cleaning up and the drive for marketing of place - Malcolm Miles/ Roselyn Deutche/ Rebecca Solnit/ Ed Soja. Taste - should the selection of art be driven by public taste
Grant Kester writes of a a very different image of the artist; - one defined in terms of open-ness, of listening and a willingness to accept dependence and intersubjective vulnerability. Simon Sheike there is no ideal generalized spectator, people will encounter art with their own specific backgrounds, experiences and intentionalities Simon Sheike, In the Place of the Public Sphere? Or, the World in Fragments: http://www.republicart.net/disc/publicum/sheikh03_en.htm
Types of Practice & Levels of Engagement/ Ways of Working Artists who make work with little/no involvement of others except for technical expertise. Artists who invite participation Artists who embed themselves within the social fabric of a city or place. Artists who work from a collaborative basis – effecting a kind of social sculpture. Artists who act as investigators/ researchers/ anthropologists observing, mapping or tracking aspects of place or communities. From Clare Dorothy – Curating in the wrong place, where have all the penguines gone?
Per Cent for Art –Local Authorities; government bodies; Regeneration Schemes: Structured Arts Council European Funding Local Authorities More ad hoc and self generated Organisations and Agencies – Create, The National Sculture Factory, Sculpture Center Arts Events and Festivals – Fringe, Galway Arts Festival Festival of World Cultures Off-site projects of galleries and museums – Science Museum, Model Niland
Common per cent opportunities Local Authority – Housing, Roads (NRA), Major engineering works Education – Colleges, Schools Heath Sector –Hospitals and health care More occasionally – Marine, Defence on a much more ad hoc basis
Ten General Comments The conditions for making Public Art in Ireland
In the UK – public art has been closely associated with development With private developments where is has been made part of planning gain, with mixed results. Ref ixia – debates
Ireland – hasn't really developed agencies of either serious calibre or high/broad value which allows for arms-length programmatic approaches to developing public art. Very directly embedded with in organisations Eg Creative time, Artangle, Situations.
Questions about curatorial direction and competencies – difficulties in navigating , brokering organisational cultures are generally kept in house
Budgets through the per cent for art scheme do not adequately provide for major physical or infrastructural interventions by artists – even with pooling
Artists in Ireland, and associated professional don't have a strong professional working relationships
Attitudes – One off projects with problem solving – working on site or out of site coming mostly uniquely for each time the scheme is used, problematic rather than challenging.
Relationship based on goodwill or organisational give, which can set up situations off parity or kilter, seeing things evolve as ancillary.
Artists can be overwhelmed by trying to navigate processes, and not have the training, or experience to working effectively in teams are not included in overall project management early enough and are not driven through the process of manufacture at pace
Artists are not the only creatives involved, lack of exposure to cross-disciplinary teams, can make compromise feel like loss
There is a debate here – artists as creators, project managers, budget holders, vs the UK – where there is a sense that artists are being removed from the process of making public art altogether
Chaired by Sarah Glennie, Director of the Irish Film Institute.
Rhona Byrne, visual artist
Ciaran Taylor, performer ElaineAgnew, composer
Rionach Ni Neill, dancer
Philip Delamere, artsofficer
Ruaidh O’Cuiv, public art manager,
Siobhan Geoghegan, Common Ground,
Toby Dennett, Operations Manager,
Monica Corcoran, Local Government Public art
Expected Key Outcomes The Brief - Moving away from structured briefs much broader understanding to drive the process A vision drives the process – perhaps more curatorial drive With associated implications Much broader in its scope of artfroms - particularly more programmatic approach Use of Professional development or artfrom agencies to produce work Less rigid and more fluid
Current Climate – concern about how the guidelines link into the operational realties of organisations
Greater need for financial transparency
Understanding about value for money
The role of the artists
Procurement – issues
What is under threat – in the current climate The ability to pursue long-term principles and goals – the critical mass to be well embedded. Develop and promote a culture of risk-taking or leadership (under-the-radar) ref Limerick Maintain commitment to providing specialist staff and support Good enough attitude – weak leadership, vision drive, failure to back quality Erosion of retain capacity, organisational memory Failure to mix-it up large quality work, with smaller projects Compound existing cultures – lack of faith
Approaches Geographical, Ground Up – Clare, work in Sligo ArtForm Development - broader inclusion eg Wexford but also opportunites to commission – eg InContext Developing from Political Premise – Electoral Wards – Dun Laoghaire Regeneration – Re-imaging Cavan (Lead by an architectural ) Responsive to defined context – low on artist driven cultures Seamus Nolan – or Paddy Paddy Bloomer and Nicky Keogh
Public art panel – Mayo County Council Programmatic approach to public art - Ballymun Direct commissioning – Office of Public Works Procurement procedures - Dept of Defence Mix of these What tends to drive these approaches Familiarity with the process, Having expertise and confidence Budgets Range or of concerns – from a desire for engagement with an artist to a sense of entitlement
Key process and committees – and the background people SPC – Special Policy Committee Local Area Committee Council Meeting Public art working group Public art selection group Selection Panels Community Representations Political Representation Artistic Representation Area expertise eg an architect, engineer or other associated person – such as head of school
Where is the funding going Publications Launches Project management costs Some Staff costs Project budgets Other expertise Selection committees Mediation Education and Outreach Evaluations
Michael Buffin Location: Station Road-about, Castlebar Title: Shimmer Medium: Stainless Steel Date: 1992 - 1993
Artist: Colm Brennan Location: Turlough Park House Title: Roan an Tuthail Medium: Bronze Date: 2000 - 2001 Materials: Bronze Dimension: N/A Description: Distilled childhood memory rushes being cut with a reaping hook.
The sculpture was commissioned by Mayo County Council through open competition, and funded under the percent for art scheme by the Department of the Environment Heritage and Local Government. John, who takes his inspirations from Man and Nature, says, ‘Fundamentally the Wader aims to provide an opportunity for people to capture a moment for them to reflect on.’ The Wader combines contemporary and traditional values and successfully echoes the movement of the river that flows beside it. Echoing the elegance of the female form with twisting Celtic curves, the Wader transports us from the hustle and bustle of modern life to a place of tranquil beauty, ideally situated in the peaceful surroundings of the river bank. John Rowlands
Mayo County Council has been extremely proactive in applying funding made available under the Department of the Environment's Percent for Art Scheme for the commissioning of Public Art. With a developmental approach towards Public Art policy the Council endeavours to represent national best practice. To date, there has been a tradition of site specific, permanent sculptural works. Therefore to reflect current best practice, as outlined in Public Art: Per Cent for art Scheme - General National Guidelines 2004, it is now the council's intention to develop a wider range of both commissioning practices and to encourage a wider diversity of contemporary art forms where applicable. The Public Art Programme will also reflect the guiding principles of the Strategic Arts Plan 2003-2006 for Mayo County Council, of quality, inclusion, access and long-term value.
What's the back story – why form a panel again Inherited a system and reinvented – architecture and engineer freedom Where there has been a culture of ad hoc-ness it protects through systems The panel can set the tone and direction for a process – without committee It limits the number and scope of artists that they intend to work with It offers security for the arts service – meaning that the artists they will be working with are defined
Mayo County Council Public Art Panel Forming pannel – three experts – Visual, Music and Literature 300 application for inclusion on the panel 60 -70 Short-listed By far the largest percentage are from a Visual background Other artforms are emerging to be less competitive – due to a desire to include them Looking for people who are interested in smaller commission All experts vote – meaning that the person with specific knowledge can be out numbered - propsals in mind
Not open to application – set its limits Can offer opportunities for risk taking Opportunity to quietly form an approach Under the radar. Change through due process
A F T E R Responding to a changing landscape Leitrim and Roscommon 2008 www.after.ie
AFTER is a landmark public art event that addresses the unprecedented effects of Ireland’s recent economic boom on the rural landscape. It was initiated through the TRADE programme run by Roscommon and Leitrim arts offices and has grown into an artist-led public art event. Acclaimed international artist Alfredo Jaar facilitated exchange and discussion among the five AFTER artists during a year-long engagement as part of a residency. The project developed an alternative and innovative model for arts practice, which benefits from the artists’ specific knowledge of their respective locales and their shared concerns for the environment.
The scope of the five combined AFTER project saw them address diverse publics and locations across the Roscommon and Leitrim region and beyond. Each project manifested different strategies both in conceptualizing and engaging with the idea of “the public”.
The Skoghall Konsthall, 2000 Skoghall, Sweden Skoghall is a small community in search of an identity. Up until now, its identity has been strongly identified as a Paper Mill town. In fact, most of Skoghall has been built by the Paper Mill, including most of the housing and the church. It is time for Skoghall to present to Sweden and to the world a new image, a contemporary image of progress and culture, beyond being a dormitory for the Paper Mill workers. An image of creativity and actuality. An image of a dynamic and progressive place where culture is created, not only consumed. A living culture is one that creates.
Carol Ann Duffy The Broken Appliance Depot , concerned with addressing issues of surplus objects and buildings in our community consisting of a solar powered light installation from broken household appliances on site of ESB pylon on Grangegorman.
Carol Ann Duffy’s project also – a vacant house used to host workshops and events concerned with the management of waste material and involving facilatators from the area
THE RESPONSIBILITY OF THE BRIEF IS TO GIVE ARTISTS CLEAR GUIDANCE WITHOUT LIMITING POTENTIAL AND AT THE SAME TIME TO BE HONEST AND FAIR.
DIFFERENT TYPES OF BRIEFS
F ocused briefs asking for specific responses
Often for site specific, permanent works or particular medium. Roads, Schools, Airports.
Open with appar ant greater artistic freedom
i.e they offer flexibility in reponse. Local authority Programmes: In Context, S. Dublin/ Wicklow/ Breaking Ground
Writing your own brief: You determine process and outcomes – e.g. Fingal County Council
Maya Lin’s Vietnam Veterans Memorial, 1981 The brief commissioned by a private veterans foundation asked artists through an open competition to propose ideas ‘that it would make no political statement regarding the war and its conduct and that it would be reflective and contemplative in nature.”
UNDERSTAND HOW YOU LIKE TO WORK - WHAT YOU ENJOY IN YOUR PRACTICE WHAT ARE THE INTENTIONS FOR YOUR WORK AND CONSIDER YOUR RESPONSIBILITIES & PUSH YOUR AMBITIONS. BE CRITICAL ASK FOR PEER FEEDBACK AND CONSIDER WORKABILITY OF YOUR IDEAS.
What do I need to do to realise this commission? Can I build Research Time in as part of the application? Do I need Another’s input – a mentor or specialist? Are there ethical questions underpinning my approach? Am I up for a Challenge? Are there other projects, artists, or works that inspire me ? how does this material works?
IDEAS What is interesting to explore artistically + your working method + CONTEXT + Brief = IDEAS Research & Response Situation/ Context budget Site/ topography Place People Other artists’ work Process & negotiation Client/Commissioner Use/uselessness Materials Form Structure Installation Presentation Duration Present/ Future looking, thinking, reading, making, reviewing
YOUR PRACTICE The role of REPETITION: in developing rhythms and rituals in your working practice as well as resistances – transferences DETOURS and Free Association TIME (time that you might have to take detours… to build on your knowledges and ways of working and try things out Joanna Morris (the work of research)
Whose Agenda? The artist? The public? The Commissioner? The Context? Your responsibilities as an artist is to yourself But in public art commissions it is also likely to be to To others To the place To the context To the commissioner T he anwser might be in your practice how it relates to your proposal and the intentions in the work HOW WILL IT COMMUNICATE - How and To Whom does it connect?
RESPONDING TO A COMMISSION It is tempting to apply because there is money on offer, but only do so if you feel that the commission / public art project is appropriate to your practise and you have good ideas. Do not compromise your artistic practice when making proposals (especially for public art commissions) by changing what you are and what you do for the sake of gaining an opportunity. Many public art commissions require a context specific element (reflecting the community of place and interest) and generic projects – i.e. producing work which could happen anywhere at anytime have less chance of being successful. The key is to find a connection between your work and practice to the context be it the people, geography, nature of the place, identity, fiction, etc Collaborative practise – working with other artists or across artform / or with communities can prove very fulfilling. These require specialist expertise and approaches to working. Consider working with other experts both artistic and others depending on the commission
Sean Taylor’s 100 Paces Collins Barracks Dublin – the artists turned the commission brief to suit him
Christine Mackey’s Riverworks re-tracing the travelogue of Mrs Owenson through Sligo Landscape and around the Dorley River with a subversive and ecological agenda. Year long project commissioned by Sligo County Council
Permanent work often requires the main conceptual process to take place by submission stage and therefore requires considerable working out prior to submission.
Temporary work requires setting out ideas and approaches without being necessarily providing defined outcomes and impacts but that does not mean to say that ambitions and process cannot be clearly defined.
B oth the above depend on the commissioner’s culture.
It asks questions of how you address the commission, define a concept and make your proposal
It is an opportunity to decide if the commission is appropriate for your own practice
Site visit & briefing
Research and references
Material / medium / media – its performance
Value of relating your art practice to the context
The key is to find a connection between the context and your work / practice
other artists practice
READ THE BRIEF CAREFULLY Give yourself TIME Make a Visual Map (plot out / Visualise) Structure your proposal based on what is required. Write clearly in a way that best communicates your ideas quickly. The opening statement / paragraph is critical Imagine who will be looking at it and reading it, Try not to be too dense. Footnotes can help. Do not be afraid of simple language or short sentences and keep paragraphs short. Write in a style that takes cognisance of arts language. Don’t be afraid – personality can come through – so can humour or mystery but best in a way that seems natural and close to your ideas rather than self conscious or clumsy and awkward.
Get someone else (a peer / another artist) to read your proposal If you hate writing – get someone else to write for you but check everything. REMEMBER - WRITING/ Sketching out IS A PROCESS Ideas Come in this Process Clarity emerges when you write and helps structure your thoughts, ideas occur. Check all requirements – what you have been asked for. Edit your material well, especially reference to your recent/past work – Keep the shit detector fully functioning. Do not submit more than you are asked for. Do not submit too little to allow fair assessment Make it joyful, easy to move through, thoughtful and clear
W r i t I n g a P r o p o s a l/ HEADINGS Title: Description: About your proposal/ concepts and thoughts behind it, research methodologies. what you want to do, what it will involve, theoretical underpinning of concepts. Context: The context for this work – social, physical, geographic, multi-sited, virtual etc. Research & Development People (this might be collaborators or other expertise) Audience/ Participants Costs: Materials / Media – Location: Mediation Documentation Evaluation Networks / future possibilities for the project. Maintenance (outlne as required) Technical details (specific as required). Timeframe Visuals might intersperse with your text in a way that makes it more lively and engaging.
Fees are generally not separated out from the total project budget and so artists have to to estimate their own fee based on overall costs.
One recommendation puts artists fees between 20 - 25% of the total budget.
However, in reality the artists fee often gets eaten up by the production costs and in some cases artists have come away with no fee or very little. Artists should ensure that they are paid properly for undertaking the project. Commissioners should be aware of looking after artists fees
THE SELECTION PROCESSES A small group of people select a work of art and decide in the name of the public what its art should be. It is a democratic process Generally selection panels consist of a mix of representative of the commissioners, artistic experts, community representatives, politicians, etc. Selection criteria becomes a guiding bases for making decisions. Things like quality of ideas, imagination, appropriateness, the unexpected alongside technical issues and keeping within budget and workability of your proposal are all criteria on which decisions are reached.
Use your own professional resources – peers, artists, resource organisations.
Push agendas and go for the idea and concept - stand firm and when to give in or see another way (comprise - walk away)
Track and Review the experience gained and the project work
Getting Started Sort out all the nuts and bolts at the beginning - thinking deep into the project. Straight lines and the curve balls – project mapping. Set the conditions for right and good working – clarify the ways you work and the way the commissioner works Work on developed relationships not goodwill- spending time here will offer capacity to work through pressures. Essentially here you are look for mutual definition. Understand your needs and your gaps and communicate them Take time to demystify – decloud the process – primarily for yourself
Communicate – do not be afraid drive home knowledge or skills gaps
Pinpoint where you think the pressure points are
Press, marketing, public speaking and so on
Ask and talk about the pressure points from the commissioners
Time and availability
Wider organisational cultures
Focused meetings to talk a lot about the project and round the work so you both get to understand the context.
Every effort to remove/ shift Power dynamics should taken
Work towards directional power – so the focus is on problem solving
Getting the relationships right for you or at least understanding contexts Clarity and communications – two way – agreement here How and who will you be expected to work with? Can you have a direct liaison person, what is the scope of their decision making powers Do you want this named in the contract Are there protocols about contacting other key people within the organisation? Managing expectations – flag issues, in advance – be clear with the organisation the impact of their decisions. Perform managing yourself well – this is not painful
Copyright gives protection and rights for reproduction. all forms and media are eligible for copyright protection as long as they are original. ideas and principles underlying a work are not protected. Copyright arises spontaneously on creation of a work there is no registration required. misunderstandings as to ownership can arise when a work is commissioned. commissioners often assume that because they paid for the work, they own the copyright. This is not the case the copyright remains with the artist unless it is assigned to the commissioner in a written agreement. Commissioner has the right to use the work for which it was commissioned