Public Art Needs Time Limits

Project Focus: One Day Sculpture
Seminar Venue: Spike Island, 133 Cumberland Road, Bristol, BS1 6UX
Date: Thursday 3rd December 2009, 10.30am – 4.30pm
(registration 10.00am)

Mark Beasley,
formerly Curator, Creative Time and Curator of This World Nearer Ones, a site-specific exhibition of temporary work on New York’s Governor’s Island. From July 2009, Curator, Performa, the acclaimed New York-based arts organisation dedicated to performance
David Cross
, Co-Director, One Day Sculpture, New Zealand, and Associate Professor of Fine Arts, Massey University, Wellington, New Zealand
Jane Rendell
, Director of Architectural Research, Bartlett School of Architecture, UCL and author of Art and Architecture: A Place Between, London: I B Tauris, 2006
Helen Marriage, Director of Artichoke and producer of Antony Gormley’s One and Other, Fourth Plinth

Claire Doherty
, Director of Situations, UWE, Curatorial Director of One Day Sculpture, New Zealand and Co-Curatorial Director, Sea Change, Weston-super-Mare, 2010

This Seminar examined how conventional forms of monumental public art have become increasingly challenged through dispersed, temporary, event-based and interventionist forms of artistic practice. One Day Sculpture was conceived as an alternative model for public art commissioning and place-based curating in New Zealand and involved the commissioning of 27 internationally acclaimed artists to produce temporary public artworks, each of which was presented for only 24 hours. As a hybrid form of exhibition, One Day Sculpture was curated collaboratively with 16 New Zealand-based curators from 2008-9 and stretched over time (one year) and place (five cities).

Taking One Day Sculpture as its starting point, this Seminar explored how such new models of curating and commissioning seek to set up new and surprising encounters, often unannounced, engaging publics through an evolving, dynamic programme of temporary events and projects. Creative Time projects This World Nearer Ones on New York’s Governor’s Island and Antony Gormley’s One and Other were also profiled.

A number of key questions were addressed, including:

  • Can temporary, fleeting artworks have as great a resonance for the public as a permanent monument and if so, in what ways?
  • Do temporary projects run the risk of becoming consumed merely as events, quickly forgotten in a consumer culture, and, if so, how can the integrity or potential criticality of an artwork survive?
  • How do temporary projects survive beyond their initial time frame and what are their potential legacies?
  • How do momentary temporary projects engage with notions of place and its audiences?
  • What kinds of new commissioning and project management skills do such projects require?