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Research Process Journal

Public Art Programs

Public Art Programs will reflect on the ways in which cities are currently curated and how this approach has an impact on what artists produce and respond to these conditions. In particular I am interested in understanding the approaches taken by curators and arts managers in working with artists and publics in developing projects suitable for the local community. 



Monument Lab, Philadelphia

Reflecting on history, imagine the future, change the present

December 4, 2017


Looking at a travelling friends Facebook post, I stumbled across his photo of a banner in Philadelphia in relation to a public art and history project called Monument Lab. The banner stated "Reflect on history, imagine the future, change the present". I was very interested in the statement, as it related well to how I have been thinking about place in relation to the community, in particular Edward Soja's expanded notions of space which takes into consideration space as a 'physical and mental' construction which he refers to as 'Thirdspace'. I though this banner described beautifully how I think about places when I am working in them and try to consider my relationship with a place as an artist. I did some further investigating of Monument Lab and what appealed to me most is their democratic approach to the series of site-specific public art commissions, where they have asked the community for local personal narratives to create a database on oral stories to develop projects from as part of their research process, involving many sectors of the community. 


This is an aspect I often think about in my projects, that various partners will contribute to a project in different ways depending on their skills and interests in being involved. Fo instance in my project Anonymous Sojourners, the St Andrews Historical society have supported me with their research and the The St Andrews Men's Shed supported me with the making of the project, as this is where their interest was in working with me. In the past, I have come across the development of an archive of public artists by local commissioners, so they can work more effectively with the public art community. This was suggested by staff at a City of San Francisco meeting I attended in relation to arts managers approaches to managing cultural programs in 2009, but this approach is different as they are asking the public for input into the project.