Salon 2: On initiative and public

Posted on November 3, 2011


Where does the initiative for public art come from, besides government policies? Artists and other parties can and do take the initiative for art projects in public space – in Berlin so more than in other places – either to seek out a wider audience or to seek opportunities for showing themselves. What are the specific motivations for these initiatives, and is there also ‘initiative’ coming from the audience, the general public? If we think of alternatives for policy/government initiated public art, how would that work and what would we need?

With these questions, we entered Salon number 2, starting out at the former site of Skulpturenpark on Seydelstr/Alte Jacobstr/Kommandantenstr (next to the terrific hole by Erik Smith).

The whole group, except for Ilka who’s taking the picture.

First introductory words by yours truly.

Philip Horst introducing the site and explaining the coming about of Skulpturenpark: an iniative of five artists who claimed this land to show art and experiment with the idea of a contemporary sculpture park. It was a process of ‘negotiating the space’. Next to him artist Las Ramberg, who works in public space a lot and was the maker of the work Zweifel on Palast der Republik, right in the middle of the discussion about its future. Het initiated the work himself, so also for him a lot of negotiation of course.

Susanne Prinz on the projects she is curating around Rosa Luxemburg Platz, where some residents wanted to have more space for art and culture, so they initiated their own ‘Verein’. They do many art projects on the streets or in open court yards. Susanne explains that public spaces are actually the most difficult ones to use, so they often seek out private ones that are accessible, so you only have to deal with the owner.

Mariska van den Berg, whose research on people reclaiming pieces of land for communal use in cities, is of course very relevant for this Salon. Her focus is not only on art, or artists’ projects, but covers a wider field including design and urbanism: guerilla gardening and other ‘bottum-up’ alternative forms of land use that aim to improve the quality of city life.

Meanwhile the weather was extremely kind to us. After the introductions we went to a nearby establishment for discussion and lunch. A full report will be posted soon!