Thirty-two recent public art projects from around the world have been selected by a global group of jurors as meritorious examples to highlight as part of the 2nd International Award for Public Art. All 32 projects will be featured in an exhibition and publication as part of the Award Ceremony and Public Art Forum in June 2015, hosted by the Elam School of Fine Arts of the National Institute of Creative Arts and Industries at the University of Auckland in partnership with Shandong University Academy of Art.
The International Award for Public Art (IAPA) honors excellence in the field of public art, increases visibility for public art internationally, and fosters knowledge through research, discussion, and debate. IAPA was created in 2011 by Forecast Public Art (publisher of Public Art Review) and Shanghai University’s College of Fine Arts (publisher of Public Art) with the aim of propagating knowledge about the practice of public art globally. The Institute for Public Art was established to further the process of researching and support efforts to host the award event and related forums. The theme of the first award focused on placemaking, and six finalists and one winner were announced in April 2013 in Shanghai, China.
Starting a year ago, Forecast Public Art began collecting suggestions for hundreds of noteworthy recent public art projects from around the world to consider for the second award. With the help of 20 independent researchers, stories, images, and data were collected for 125 exemplary projects.
The 32 projects shortlisted by the jurors will be featured in an exhibition and publication as part of the Award Ceremony and Public Art Forum in Auckland, including images, text, and videos. Selected projects will also receive recognition in Public Art Review and Public Art in the coming year, and will be featured online via the Public Art Archive in conjunction with the June program.
Seven projects—one from each of the global regions researched—will receive special recognition at the event and forum. One of these projects will be announced as the winner at the International Award for Public Art Ceremony. An announcement of the seven runners up will be released in March 2015.
32 Featured Public Art Projects (by region)
Makoko Floating School (Lagos, Nigeria)
Makoko Floating School is a prototype floating structure, built for the historic water community of Makoko, located on the lagoon heart of Nigeria’s largest city, Lagos.
The Maboneng Township Arts Experience (Alexandra, South Africa)
Alexandra, still one of the poorest areas in the country, was long known as the ‘Dark City’ because of its lack of electricity. By turning homes into art galleries and streets into performance venues, the festival aims to dispel a metaphorical darkness, in which residents view art as beyond their reach.
Light in the Revolution Night (Martyr Square, Zouhour City, Kasserine, Tunisia)
Described by Jabbari as a work of ‘calligraffiti,’ a fusion of traditional Arabic calligraphy and graffiti, the project was a means for the artist to come to terms with the desires and violence of the Tunisian Arab Spring in which many protesters were killed by government forces.
Dream City (Tunis and Sfax, Tunisia)
Dream City is a Tunisian biennial of contemporary art in public space. In 2012, the theme was Artists Facing Freedom, and consisted of site-specific works by artists from Tunisia, Algeria, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Benin, Egypt, Iran, China, Spain, France, Palestine, and the Netherlands.
Salon Urbain de Douala 2010 (Douala, Cameroon)
Douala’s triennial festival of public art was founded in 2007 by the arts center doual’art. It was conceived as a means of transforming and culturally enriching Douala. The 2010 edition featured Cameroonian and international artists and had the theme of water, a limited resource for locals.
Kai Tak River Green Corridor (Hong Kong, China)
Wallace Ping Hung Chang’s project brings environmental awareness and action to what used to be one of the most polluted stretches of water in Hong Kong, the so-called ‘Kai Tak Nullah.’ By staging participatory art projects along the river during the 2011 Green Arts Festival, KTRGC brought new life to the area, building ties between residents and the environment.
Land Art Mongolia / LAM 360° (Baga Gaziriin Chuluu, Dundgobi)
This project focuses on land art as one possible form of spatial and outdoor visualization of the relations between nature, culture, and social practices. It promotes freedom of expression in joining people and institutions from all sectors of Mongolian society.
Anime Valley of the Flowers (Shanli village in Longxi Town, Yuhuan County, Zhejiang Province, China)
In order to promote rural development and give villagers better living opportunities, the county government and College of Fine Arts at Shanghai University introduced public art into the area, enriching the villagers’ lives and advocating an ideal human living environment.
Xucun International Art Commune (Shanxi Province, China)
Artists from all over the world are invited to participate in a biennial festival. The first Heshun County Art Festival, held in July 2011, set a precedent of conducting contemporary art creation activities in the traditional Chinese culture hinterland.
New Workers Art Troupe (Tongxin School, Picun Village, Jinzhan Township, Chaoyang District, Beijing, China)
This grassroots nonprofit organization initiated by a group of migrant workers is committed to the local community, serving public interests through art.
SE Asia / Australia / Oceania
Forgotten Songs (Sydney, Australia)
This permanent public art installation comprises 180 bird cages that play a soundscape of birdsong. The calls are from bird species that used to live in the city before the arrival of Europeans.
Digital Odyssey (Eleven regional locations across Australia)
Digital Odyssey was an 18 month tour and artist residency, which bought Australian artist Craig Walsh’s distinctive artwork to locations throughout the country. Walsh traveled around Australia developing and presenting temporary large-scale public projection and multimedia works that were collaborative with communities and responsive to regional history, local stories and the surrounding landscape.
The Pallet Pavilion (Christchurch City, New Zealand)
The Pallet Pavilion was a temporary community events venue built in a post-disaster city with 3000 pallets by volunteers. This visually engaging and dynamic space is a showcase for the possibilities of innovative transitional architecture in a city that is ready to embrace new ideas.
Redfern Waterloo Tour of Beauty (Sydney and Redfern, Australia)
This project consisted of a bus (or bike) tour of the inner Sydney suburbs. The tour highlighted particular sites which were threatened by the Redfern Waterloo Authority’s plan to “revitalise” the area. The Tour of Beauty operated as a piece of aesthetic activism, providing a complex but concrete experience of urban social and architectural dynamics.
South & Central America
Luz Nas Vielas (São Paulo, Brazil)
Luz Nas Vielas (In Light Alleys) transformed walls in the walkways of the Vila Brasilândia neighborhood of São Paulo. Initiated by the Madrid-based artist collective Boa Mistura, in collaboration with families in the neighborhood, the project used the overlapping planes of the buildings to create playful optical perspective-painting: at the right angle, one of several words appears to pop into space, hovering at the horizon line of the walking path.
The Geometry of Conscience (Santiago, Chile)
Artist Alfredo Jaar created a radically different type of memorial for the victims of the 17-year Pinochet military dictatorship. In the dark, 500 silhouettes—each representing a victim of the regime—slowly brighten on one wall, reflected infinitely in two facing, mirrored side-walls. After the lights reach full intensity, they snap off, plunging the viewers into darkness, with an afterimage left on their retinas.
El Bibliobandido (El Pital, Honduras)
The Bibliobandido project uses art and performance to boost literacy. The Book Bandit wears a disguise and “ravenous for stories, roves the jungles terrorizing little kids until they write stories to nourish his insatiable appetite.” Launched by artist Marisa Jahn in collaboration with villagers in El Pital, Honduras, the program provides book-making, story-telling, and literacy support through a volunteer “library committee.”
Ghetto Biennale (Port-au-Prince, Haiti)
Responding to the lack of mobility faced by many Haitian artists, the Ghetto Biennale brings the international art community to Haiti, working to undermine obstacles to participation, provide access to fresh ideas, foster dialogue across barriers, and provide greater visibility for Haitian artists. Creating a “third space” beyond first world / third world binaries, the biennale provides a platform for artists from different backgrounds to collaborate, share their work, and enter into debates and discussions.
Freehouse Neighbourhood Workshop (Rotterdam, The Netherlands)
Conceived by a community of artists, designers, and residents of Afrikaanderwijk, this project is a series of workshops “that challenge people to play a more active part with respect to the space outside.” Workshops are based on the enhancement of skills or talents that exist in the neighborhood and attempt to connect individuals with skills to employment opportunities.
Labyrinth and Cabins of Argelaguer (Girona, Spain)
Josep Pujiula i Vila is a self-taught artist who, driven by personal passion, created a monumental artwork that has become central to the shared public identity of his village.
Lowlands, Clydeside Walkway (Glasgow, Scotland)
Lowlands is a large-scale sound installation by 2010 Turner Prize winner Susan Philipsz, commissioned for the Glasgow International Festival of Visual Art in 2010. On her first site visit, the artist noticed flowers on the rails of the bridge, an anonymous memorial to a suicide. Taking this as a cue, Philipsz decided to base her work on a sixteenth century Scottish ballad “Lowlands Away.”
Partizaning Public Mailboxes (Moscow, Russia)
This is a self-commissioned artistic project focused on stimulating dialogue, collective thought, and action through the interface of publicly sited mailboxes. In 2012, the collective set up 15 mailboxes in outlying areas of Moscow posing questions about local experiences of urban challenges and wishes for the future.
A’Salaam Alaykum: Peace Be Upon You (Turin, Italy)
This public installation by Lebanese artist Zena el Khalil was commissioned in 2009 for the Fondazione Merz in Turin, Italy. The work consisted of a rotating 3.8-meter-tall “Allah” sign in Arabic script, executed in mirrored glass tiles. The sign reflected spotlights installed on the periphery of the basin, and was accompanied by a DJ set by Ayla Hibri as well as by projections of images of everyday life.
Art Shanty Projects (Minneapolis, USA)
Every other year, Art Shanty Projects transforms a frozen lake into a creative community space that is part art gallery, part art residency, and part social experiment.
Homeless Remembrance Project (Tree of Life & Leaves of Remembrance) (Seattle, Washington, USA)
The world’s first permanent publicly sited memorial to the homeless, the bronze Tree of Life in Seattle, Washington, exemplifies a trend in public memorials, commemorating victims rather than celebrating heroes. The Tree of Life sculpture is extended across the city by Leaves of Remembrance, each bearing the name of a homeless person who has died and scattered as if by the wind, serving as an enduring public testimony to the inherent humanity of homeless people.
Conflict Kitchen (Pittsburgh, PA, USA)
Located in a kiosk within the park surrounding the Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh, Conflict Kitchen is both a restaurant and a socially engaged public art project that only serves cuisine from countries with which the USA is in conflict.
Soil Kitchen (Philadelphia, PA, USA)
Soil Kitchen is a temporary, windmill-powered architectural intervention and multi-use space where citizens enjoy free soup in exchange for soil samples from their neighborhood.
Camara Lambdoma or Lambdoma Chamber (Mexico City, Mexico)
This project by artist Ariel Guzik is a permanemt sound installation in Carcamo de Chapultepec. It consists of a complex set of painstakingly crafted sonic machinery. The most visible component is an organ made up of two sets of pipes, producing harmonies and subharmonies based on a mathematical grid.
Middle East & Central Asia
A Pakhtun Memory (Karachi, Pakistan)
In December of 2011, artists associated with the Tentative Collective recruited musicians to perform—illegally—in a public square near a squatters’ colony in Karachi City, Pakistan. They played a song that derived from Pakhtun, the rural home-place from which many of the local squatters had migrated. The flash event turned into a spontaneous, joyful gathering that included impromptu dance performances.
On The Side of The Road: Activestills Street Exhibitions (West Bank)
The idea for On The Side of the Road came during demonstrations against the Israeli-built “separation wall” in the West Bank town of Bil’in. When the photographers found mainstream media outlets were uninterested in their photographs documenting the protests, they simply printed them out on letter paper and tacked them on public walls.
Talk To Me, Blank Noise (Yelahanka, Bangalore, India)
Blank Noise emerged in Bangalore in 2003 as an artistic and political response to the widespread harassment, molestation and rape of women. In Talk to Me, Action Heroes identified a stretch of road where they felt threatened and set up tables and chairs, inviting the public to engage in conversation, and in doing so, reframing perceptions of vulnerability, reclaiming the area, and brokering encounters across social divisions.
The Park (New Delhi, Dakshinpuri, India)
The Park was a public art project by Sreejata Roy in the working class neighborhood of Dakshinpuri in South Delhi over 2008-2009. Roy’s project aimed to revitalize and transform a neglected park in J-Block in Dakshinpuri.
Rhana Devenport (New Zealand) is a curator, writer and cultural producer whose career has spanned art museums, biennales, art festivals, private collections, and cultural organisations. She is currently Director of the Auckland Art Gallery in New Zealand.
Wang Dawei (China) is the Dean of the Fine Arts College of Shanghai University, and publisher of Public Art magazine.
Ute Meta Bauer (Singapore) is the Founding Director of the NTU Centre for Contemporary Art Singapore, a national research centre of Nanyang Technological University.
Jay Pather (South Africa) is curator for the Infecting the City Public Art Festivals in South Africa and Director of the Gordon Institute for Performing and Creative Arts at the University of Cape Town.
Bill Kelley, Jr. (USA) is an educator, independent curator and theorist based in Los Angeles. He is the Lead Researcher and Curator of Talking to Action for the Getty’s Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA. His current doctoral research (UCSD) focuses on collaborative and collective art practices in the Americas.
Chelsea Haines (USA) is a New York-based independent curator and writer, and a PhD candidate in art history at The Graduate Center, CUNY.
Pooja Sood (India) is the Director of KHOJ International Artists’ Association, an autonomous, artists’ led registered society aimed at promoting intercultural understanding through experimentation and exchange.
About The Institute for Public Art
The Institute for Public Art was created to commission research about specific aspects of public art practice around the world, establish a global network of public art professionals, and advocate excellence in public art to bring it to the favorable attention of decision makers around the world.
About Shanghai University’s Fine Arts College
The Fine Arts College of Shanghai University, founded in 1983, is a comprehensive institution of higher learning and is multi-disciplinary in nature.
About Forecast Public Art and Public Art Review
Forecast connects the energies and talents of artists with the needs and opportunities of communities, guiding our partners in creating public art that expresses the community’s sense of place and pride. Published by Forecast, Public Art Review is the world’s leading magazine devoted exclusively to the field of contemporary public art.
About the Elam School of Fine Arts
Elam School of Fine Arts has built a reputation as the foremost art school in New Zealand, where many of the country’s best-known artists have begun their careers.
Media inquiries: Amy Danielson
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