Douala. The Social, Political, and Artistic Value of Public Art


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Presentation "Douala. The Social, Political, and Artistic Value of Public Art" in the panel "Moments of Artistic Articulation in African Cities: Between Politics and Imagination", ACASA, March 2014.

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Douala. The Social, Political, and Artistic Value of Public Art

  1. 1. Douala.The Social, Political, and ArtisticValue of Public Art Moments of Artistic Articulation in African Cities: Between Politics and Imagination",ACASA, March 2014. Iolanda Pensa, Ph.D. - -  SUPSI University of Applied Sciences and Arts of Southern Switzerland, Department for Environment Constructions and Design, Laboratory of visual culture.
  2. 2. Douala. Photo Emiliano Gandolfi, 2007, cc by-sa.
  3. 3. Douala. Photo Emiliano Gandolfi, 2007, cc by-sa.
  4. 4. Joseph-Francis Sumégné, Douala, 1996, cc by-sa.
  5. 5. Ateliers urbain de Bessengue, Douala, 2002, cc by-sa.
  6. 6. Scénographies Urbaines.
  7. 7. SUD Salon Urbain de Douala.
  8. 8. Lucas Grandin, Douala, 2010, cc by-sa.
  9. 9. Socially and politically interested art practices
  10. 10. Why?
  11. 11. I. Personal commitment
  12. 12. doual’art, Douala. Photo Roberto Paci Dalò, 2010, cc by-sa.
  13. 13. HervéYamguen, Douala, 2010, cc by-sa.
  14. 14. 2. Expectations
  15. 15. Tracey Rose, Douala, 2010, cc by-sa.
  16. 16. Tracey Rose, Douala, 2010, cc by-sa.
  17. 17. Tracey Rose, Douala, 2010, cc by-sa.
  18. 18. Interest?
  19. 19. I. Studies and curatorial
  20. 20. © Meanwhile in Africa..., curated by Christian Hanoussek. Nuremberg, 2005.
  21. 21. 2. Money
  22. 22. Alioum Moussa, Douala, 2005, cc by-sa.
  23. 23. International art discourse
  24. 24. Salifou Lindou, Douala, 2010, cc by-sa.
  25. 25. HervéYamguen, Douala, 2007, cc by-sa.
  26. 26. List of public art in Douala,,Wikipedia, cc by-sa.
  27. 27. doual’art Douala Cameroon,Wikimedia Commons, cc by-sa.
  28. 28. Conclusions
  29. 29. The arts as a space of experimentation and research Factor Freedom Limitations Selection • The artist can work independently.! • New institutions can be created and there is a potentially unlimited number of curators and committee that can select artworks. ! • Institutions, curators and committee can defend and support the work of artists. • The artist is selected by a curator, institution or committee. ! • The selection is inscribed into a cultural events, project or program, which frames and influence the selection process and results (aims, location, budget, time-frame, expectations, target, stakeholders). ! • The competitive process of selection can lead to conflicts and tensions in particular among the local art system (negative feedback of artists who have not been selected, curators and members of the committee who have not been included and institutions which are not represented among the stakeholders; conflicts related to the use of public resources). Location • Artists can choose the location where they want to intervene.! • The temporary nature of ephemeral interventions and performances benefit of more freedom. • The location can be determined and limited by the obtainment of the necessary authorization (government, private owner, community).! • The location is determined by regeneration plans and the artist is invited to intervene on a pre-determinated site.! • Even when the artwork is produced without authorization, it might be in the interest of the artists to build a consensus around the artwork from the community.! • The location has an impact on how viewers read and perceive an artwork. Production • The artist can directly manage all aspects of the production of the artwork (materials, equipment, technique, suppliers, authorization).! • The artist is not asked to produce the work but a concept; the work will be produced by others (institution, production company, assistant). • Necessity of a team behind the production of large-scale artworks.! • The production requires the involvement of a producer (or production company) who can manage the technical implementation of the project (materials, equipment, technique, suppliers, authorization),! • The production is limited by the availability of specific materials (not necessarily available in all countries) and by the presence of specialized suppliers (not necessarily available in all countries).! • The necessary skills to produce complex artworks are an asset of a limited number of people. This can generate a perceived monopoly of key producers; in reality the monopoly is due to the extremely limited number of competitors. Concept • The artist is free to define the concept of its work.! • The temporary nature of ephemeral interventions and performances and the limited cost and investment of small-scale artworks benefit of less limitations. • The concept is limited by its feasibility, location, budget.! • The concept is limited by a specific theme or general project frame.! • The concept is reviewed and selected by a curato, institution or committee.r! • The concept is limited by censure and auto-censure.! • The concept change during production according to available materials and available suppliers. Clients • Addressing a wide public can trigger new ideas and it can encourage artists to make relevant statements.! • Addressing a new public can trigger research and experimentation, and it can challenge the artist. • Viewers are not the only client of an artwork: the artist is asked to respond to the requests of curators, institutions, committees, grant-makers and other stakeholders (among which government and media).! • The pressure of addressing a wide or a new public can lead to auto-censure. ! • In the production of artworks – in particular in the so-called developing countries and in informal settlements – the process can be limited by the implicit or explicitly request of producing development (expectation or project aim). Maintence • Artists do not necessarily want their artworks to be permanent. In the concept of the artwork the life-cycle of the artwork can include its disappearance. ! • The necessity of maintenance can be a space of freedom.! • Artworks can be maintained by public administrations, private owners, cultural organizations and communities.! • Recurrent cultural events (i.e. biennials, triennials, festivals) can facilitate a cyclical maintenance (artworks are reinstalled and repaired for every edition). • The necessity of maintenance makes all artworks ephemeral or partly ephemeral.! • Maintenance can be determinant also in assuring an artwork does not become dangerous and unsafe for its public and users.! • Ownerships of the artwork determines who will manage maintenance. ! • The artwork can be vandalized or can be damaged intentionally or intentionally. To protect artworks, fences, gates and the presence of guards are sometimes used.! Quality • A wide range of works and practices can be considered art.! • The impact of cultural events and public art is not a determinant element for artistic quality.! • Quality of an artwork can only be assessed by the art system (reviews and essays by art critics, art historians and journalists, publications, presentation of the artwork within an exhibition).! • An artwork can be framed within its selection process, which can involve an institution, curator or committee. The selection process doesn’t assure the quality of the artwork but it contributes to its artistic legitimacy.! • Dynamics of power and of inclusion and exclusion still determine art history and the acknowledgement of art practices around the world.! • According to its location, art can be expected to produce an impact on development and it can be expected to represent “local” or “national” practices.! • The biography of the artist (birth place, origins, working place) can have a determinant impact in his/her artistic evaluation and in the way his/her work is framed.
  30. 30. Iolanda Pensa, Ph.D. - -  SUPSI University of Applied Sciences and Arts of Southern Switzerland, Department for Environment Constructions and Design, Laboratory of visual culture. ! The presentation is based on field research in Douala in 2003, 2005, 2007, 2009, 2010 and 2013, and on the findings of “Mobile A2K: Culture and Safety in Africa. Documenting and assessing the impact of cultural events and public art on urban safety” is a research project coordinated by SUPSI, conceived and supported by lettera27 Foundation and co-funded by SNIS The Swiss Network for International Studies.The documentation of Mobile Access to Knowledge is by default under the license Creative Commons attribution share-alike, you are free to share, copy and redistribute the material in any medium or format and to adapt remix, transform, and build upon the material for any purpose, even commercially.