Is it possible to teach public art? Setting the scene.

Susanne Bosch

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

    29 Downloads (Pure)


    Art in the public sphere is probably one of the oldest art forms in its incarnation as commemorative culture or representation of power. In her essay “For Hamburg: Public Art and Urban Identities”, art and architecture critic Miwon Kwon discusses the three phases of the paradigm shifts that have taken place over the course of the last decades in art in public spaces: from an art in public places, typically modernist abstract sculptures situated outdoors that are supposed to ‘decorate’ or ‘enrich’ urban spaces; via an art as public spaces that aims to promote the increased integration of art, architecture and environment, and for which artists work with those responsible for urban planning on continuous city-development projects; to an art in the public interest (or “new genre public art”), which deals more with social issues than with the architectonic environment, preferring to work with social groups to working engage with professionals, and which works towards the development of a political awareness in society. [1]Art in public spaces that involves people in the creative process through participatory methods is not actually a recent phenomenon. Art movements at the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th century, for example, supported social reform. Stella Rollig describes the role of artists in the Russian revolution of 1917 as designers of a new society. To this end, life and art were merged in order to “break from the indifferent autonomy of the nineteenth century's bourgeois salon art”. [2]Participatory art explicitly situates itself where art leaves no doubt as to its sociality: whether with an object or without, it is always about an interaction between people via an artistic process or product.Participation as an art form is currently subsumed in the discourse of socially engaged art, activist or dialogical art, art in the public interest.Nowadays, many of these projects are situated where the meaning of a democratic public as a social and political form is in need to be formulated. The discussion about the teaching of this art form is more recent: how does one prepare artists for this type of work? This text will provide a critical contextualisation of this issue, with reference to two existing Master’s programmes (MFA Fine Arts, Public Art and New Artistic Strategies at the Bauhaus-University Weimar and MA Art in Public at the University of Ulster, Belfast).[3] [1]Miwon Kwon, For Hamburg: Public Art and Urban Identities. 1997. See online [20.1.2011][2]Stella Rollig, Between Agitation and Animation. Activism and Participation in Twentieth Century Art, 2000. See online [30.11.2010] [3]The author worked on both programmes and is herself a practising artist in this field.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationŽivot umjetnosti (Life of Art) THE PARTICIPATORY IMPERATIVE, art mediation, the art of mediation
    Place of PublicationZagreb, Croatia
    PublisherInstitute of Art History
    ISBN (Print)0524-7794
    Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 2011

    Bibliographical note

    Contributions published in this issue of Život umjetnosti were presented at the international symposium on art mediation THE PARTICIPATORY IMPERATIVE, art mediation, the art of mediation, a project by the Goethe Institut Kroatien which took place at the Museum of Contemporary Art Zagreb (MSU Zagreb) from 13th – 15th May 2010. The programme concept was developed by Katharina Jedermann and Kristina Leko.


    • participatory art
    • art mediation
    • education
    • Germany
    • Croatia
    • conference
    • workshop
    • publication


    Dive into the research topics of 'Is it possible to teach public art? Setting the scene.'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

    Cite this