Public Art? Examining the Differences between Contemporary Sculpture inside and outside the Art Institution
This text explores three main differences between a sculpture installed within a museum and a sculpture installed in public space. It analyses the institutional framework, the relationship between the viewer and the artwork, the nature of the audience. The authors argue that there are key differences that require correspondingly different ways of understanding, conceiving and making sculptural projects in public space.
When installed in public space, art encounters a whole new environment: conventional museum procedures and attitudes are no longer applicable. Sculptures installed in public space lack clear institutional reference points that would confer them the status of art, so they automatically settle in beside other urban objects, in a diffuse and mixed zone. New approaches must be found that take into account the specificities of public space, the local context and the establishing of dialogue with the local community. Moreover, the evaluation of these projects should depart from mere aesthetic considerations and take on board ideas and methodologies from other disciplines. With regards to a broadened, diversified and participatory audience, it would make only sense to involve them as an intrinsic part of a more collaborative notion of sculpture and public art.
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