Public Installation

Background:  

Most artworks are created for personal use by individuals in their homes and offices. These artworks are usually expensive and hence limit the art to the elite. However, some artists try to make art accessible to the public. They make artworks which are then installed at a public place, where anyone and everyone can see and appreciate their art. Though there may be a nominal price attached to it, it still brings art within their reach.  

Such an artwork which is created to be installed and displayed in the public domain, where everyone can see it is called Public Installation.  

What is Public Art?  

Public art may be defined as an art form, which is solely created to be made available to the general public. This art can be any media and is made visually and physically accessible to the common public. It is usually installed or staged in public space, normally in open.   

The public art seeks to portray concepts which are of public or universal interests and not personal, partisan or commercial. This art form is typically specific to the location and physical landscape and involves a cultural or topical context. A public art typically involves a wide range of everyday and natural materials and media, sometimes even waste materials, to communicate and connect with the patrons. The new age public installations also make use of new-age media such as video, sound and performance. The sound and light show at several historical monuments is a classic example of this.  

However, some independent art created or staged in the public domain like street art, wall graffiti, as of now are not recognized as public art. However, there are several street artists, who are working hard to give this art its due credit and with the changing attitude of people towards this art genre, the results are expected soon.   

What does public art involve?  

Public installation, in simple language, is about taking a space and loading it with different items that evoke multiple thoughts and moods among people. These artworks are typically designed and created to transform the understanding of space and then installed to be cited in the physical public domain, which can be approached by everyone. A public installation may be for enjoying one-sided only. However, there are some interactive public installations.   

Characteristics of Public Art:  

While there are several types of public installations, there are some common characteristics of public installations. Some of which are listed below.  

  1. Public accessibility: The name itself suggests that the installation is done in public space, which can be accessed by the general public.   
  2. Public Funding: Often public art is created by community involvement. The public artists work in association with governments, NGOs, community leaders and other fundraisers. 
  3. Longevity: Though not necessary, but mostly the public art is created to make it permanent. The artworks are created with safe and durable material so that they can face extreme weather conditions and human activity. Unlike a gallery, studio or museum artworks which can be transferred or sold, public art is legally protected by the Visual Artists Rights Act of 1990 (VARA) which requires an official deaccession process for sale or removal.  

Some of the rather famous public art around the world are: 

  1. Puppy by Jeff Koons, Spain (1992) 
  2. Bruno Catalano’s gravity-defying sculptures, Les Voyageurs, Marseilles(2013)  
  3. Vigeland Sculpture Park by Gustav Vigeland, Norway 
  4. Franz Kafka's Head by David Cerny, Prague(2014) 
  5. Prada Marfa by Elmgreen and Dragset, Texas (2005)  

A public installation is a piece of art which is planned and executed with a specific intention of being displayed in the public space, which is usually open and accessible to all. The art may be rendered in any media and may encompass environmental art, landscapes, architectural interventions; and participatory and interactive pieces.  

These public installations may or may not be interactive. An interactive Public installation allows the audiences to communicate with the piece of art. This interaction may take any form and responds to the users’ activities. They incorporate a broad range of materials. The artwork can be either temporary or permanent and can be implemented as a stand-alone, or as a collective hybrid involving multi-disciplinary approaches.