Making and Breaking Public Space

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Title: Making and Breaking Public Space Narrative Interventions as a Form of Contemporary Public Art Practice
Physical Description: Book
Language: English
Creator: Ringold-Brown, Madelyn
Publisher: New College of Florida
Place of Publication: Sarasota, Fla.
Creation Date: 2012
Publication Date: 2012


Subjects / Keywords: Public Art
Public Sphere
Contemporary Art
Production of Space
Genre: bibliography   ( marcgt )
theses   ( marcgt )
government publication (state, provincial, terriorial, dependent)   ( marcgt )
born-digital   ( sobekcm )
Electronic Thesis or Dissertation


Abstract: In 1990 Suzanne Lacy coined the term "new genre public art" to describe a new breed of public art practitioners whose work reinvigorated an impoverished and marginal field. The primary tenet of "new genre public art" is that a work can be considered public as a result of its subject matter and social import rather than its placement. This thesis explores the contemporary relevance of this genre that was envisioned over twenty years ago. To this end I engage with a number of theories to reevaluate the significance of space and public as socially created states. The first chapter contains a brief history of public art as it has developed in the United States. The second introduces relevant theories that serve as a framework for the art that I analyze. The following two chapters explore the work of two Contemporary artists, Francis Al�s and Krzysztof Wodiczko. These artists share an interest in the significance of subjective experience within dominant social and political value systems. They restore the subjective body though the creation, reinterpretation, or projection of narratives. Al�s uses his own body in performances that question the authenticity of a reality constructed through hegemonic power systems. Such performances elaborate on or produce fables that suspend meaning and open up a space that may reveal the absurdity of certain circumstances. Wodiczko stages or facilitates situations that amplify personal narratives that have been subjugated or suppressed. The narratives, or testimonies, provided by the participants in these pieces reveal the complexities of human emotion and experience in a reality that silences them under the threat of further marginalization. I believe that the pieces I analyze present a unique model for contemporary public art practice.
Statement of Responsibility: by Madelyn Ringold-Brown
Thesis: Thesis (B.A.) -- New College of Florida, 2012
Bibliography: Includes bibliographical references.
Source of Description: This bibliographic record is available under the Creative Commons CC0 public domain dedication. The New College of Florida, as creator of this bibliographic record, has waived all rights to it worldwide under copyright law, including all related and neighboring rights, to the extent allowed by law.
Local: Faculty Sponsor: Hassold, Cris

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Source Institution: New College of Florida
Holding Location: New College of Florida
Rights Management: Applicable rights reserved.
Classification: local - S.T. 2012 R5
System ID: NCFE004657:00001

Permanent Link:

Material Information

Title: Making and Breaking Public Space Narrative Interventions as a Form of Contemporary Public Art Practice
Physical Description: Book
Language: English
Creator: Ringold-Brown, Madelyn
Publisher: New College of Florida
Place of Publication: Sarasota, Fla.
Creation Date: 2012
Publication Date: 2012


Subjects / Keywords: Public Art
Public Sphere
Contemporary Art
Production of Space
Genre: bibliography   ( marcgt )
theses   ( marcgt )
government publication (state, provincial, terriorial, dependent)   ( marcgt )
born-digital   ( sobekcm )
Electronic Thesis or Dissertation


Abstract: In 1990 Suzanne Lacy coined the term "new genre public art" to describe a new breed of public art practitioners whose work reinvigorated an impoverished and marginal field. The primary tenet of "new genre public art" is that a work can be considered public as a result of its subject matter and social import rather than its placement. This thesis explores the contemporary relevance of this genre that was envisioned over twenty years ago. To this end I engage with a number of theories to reevaluate the significance of space and public as socially created states. The first chapter contains a brief history of public art as it has developed in the United States. The second introduces relevant theories that serve as a framework for the art that I analyze. The following two chapters explore the work of two Contemporary artists, Francis Al�s and Krzysztof Wodiczko. These artists share an interest in the significance of subjective experience within dominant social and political value systems. They restore the subjective body though the creation, reinterpretation, or projection of narratives. Al�s uses his own body in performances that question the authenticity of a reality constructed through hegemonic power systems. Such performances elaborate on or produce fables that suspend meaning and open up a space that may reveal the absurdity of certain circumstances. Wodiczko stages or facilitates situations that amplify personal narratives that have been subjugated or suppressed. The narratives, or testimonies, provided by the participants in these pieces reveal the complexities of human emotion and experience in a reality that silences them under the threat of further marginalization. I believe that the pieces I analyze present a unique model for contemporary public art practice.
Statement of Responsibility: by Madelyn Ringold-Brown
Thesis: Thesis (B.A.) -- New College of Florida, 2012
Bibliography: Includes bibliographical references.
Source of Description: This bibliographic record is available under the Creative Commons CC0 public domain dedication. The New College of Florida, as creator of this bibliographic record, has waived all rights to it worldwide under copyright law, including all related and neighboring rights, to the extent allowed by law.
Local: Faculty Sponsor: Hassold, Cris

Record Information

Source Institution: New College of Florida
Holding Location: New College of Florida
Rights Management: Applicable rights reserved.
Classification: local - S.T. 2012 R5
System ID: NCFE004657:00001

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MAKING AND BREAKING PUBLIC SPACE: NARRATIVE INTERVENTIONS AS A FORM OF CONTEMPORARY PUBLIC ART PRACTICE BY MADELYN RINGOLD BROWN A Thesis Submitted to the Division of Humanities New College of Florida in partial fulfillment of the requiremen ts for the degree Bachelor of Arts Under the sponsorship of Professor Cris Hassold Sarasota, Florida May, 2012


ii TABLE OF CONTENTS Acknowledgments ................................ ................................ ................................ .......... iii List of Figures ................................ ................................ ................................ ................ iv Abstract ................................ ................................ ................................ ......................... vii Introduction ................................ ................................ ................................ ..................... 1 Chapter One: A History of Public Art from monuments to moments ............................ 5 Chapter Two: Producing a Space of Relations ................................ ............................... 25 Chapter Two: Francis Als ................................ ................................ ............................ 41 Chapter Four: Krzysztof Wodiczko ................................ ................................ ............... 69 Conclusion ................................ ................................ ................................ .................... 92 Bilbliography ................................ ................................ ................................ ................ 96 Figures ................................ ................................ ................................ ........................ 102


iii Acknowledgments Thank you to Cris Hassold for being an inspiration and a guiding light in this process. Thank you to Miriam Wallace and Magdalena Carrasco for providing valuable insights, support, and worthwhile reading suggestions. Thank you parents for providing endless comfort and moral support. Alex and Katie, I am forever grateful to be islands in the stream wi th the two of you. Thank you Niknak, you always give me a reason to wake up in the morning. Thank you Molly, you are still the best teacher I have ever had and a constant source of inspiration and love.


iv LIST OF FIGURES Figure 1. Richard Serra, Tilted Arc 1981. Horatio Greenough, George Washington 1841. 2. Richard Serra, Tilted Arc (Detail). 3. Maya Lin, Vietnam Veterans Memorial 1982. 4. Maya Lin, Vietnam Veterans Memorial (Detail). 5. Maya Lin, Vietnam Veterans Memorial (Detail). 6. Maya Lin, Vietnam Veterans Memo rial (Detail). 7. Frederick Hart, The Three Soldiers 1984. 8. Frederick Hart, Three Fighting Men (Detail), 1984. 9. Vietnam Veterans Memorial Flagpole 1984. 10. Maya Lin and Frederick Hart, Vietnam Veterans Memorial (View of both memorials), 1984. 11. Francis Als, l e temps du sommeil (The Time of Sleep) 1996 present. 12. Francis Als, le temps du sommeil (The Time of Sleep) 1996 present. 13. Francis Als, le temps du sommeil (The Time of Sleep) 1996 present. 14. Francis Als, le temps du sommeil (The Time of Sleep) 1996 pres ent. 15. Francis Als, le temps du sommeil (The Time of Sleep) 1996 present. 16. Francis Als, le temps du sommeil (The Time of Sleep) 1996 present. 17. Francis Als, le temps du sommeil (The Time of Sleep) 1996 present. 18. Francis Als, le temps du sommeil (The Time of Sleep) 1996 present. 19. Francis Als, le temps du sommeil (The Time of Sleep) 1996 present. 20. Francis Als, le temps du sommeil (The Time of Sleep) 1996 present. 21. Francis Als, le temps du sommeil (The Time of Sleep) 1996 present. 22. Francis Als, Untitled ( Zicte/Chewing Gum) 1994 97 23. Francis Als, Milky Way 1995 24. Francis Als, Placing Pillows 1990.


v 25. Francis Als, Sleepers 1999 2006 26. Francis Als, Sleepers 1999 2006 27. Francis Als, Sleepers 1999 2006. 28. Francis Als, Sleepers 1999 2006. 29. Francis Als, Ambulante s 1992 2006. 30. Francis Als, Ambulantes 1992 2006. 31. Francis Als, Ambulantes 1992 2006. 32. August Sanders, Coal Carrier, Berlin 1929. 33. Francis Als, Sleepers (exhibition view). 34. Francis Als, Song for Lupita 1998. 35. Francis Als, The Green Line 2004. 36. Francis A ls, Fairy Tales 1995. 37. Francis Als, The Leak 1995. 38. Krzysztof Wodiczko, Vehicle Podium (in use), 1977 1979. 39. Manuel Rosen, El Centro Cultural Tijuana, 1982 40. Krzysztof Wodiczko, Headpiece for Tijuana Projection 2001. 41. Krzysztof Wodiczko, Participant wearing the headpiece for Tijuana Projection 2001. 42. Krzysztof Wodiczko, Participant wearing the headpiece for Tijuana Projection 2001. 43. Krzysztof Wodiczko, Tijuana Projection 2001. 44. Krzysztof Wodiczko, Tijuana Projection 2001. 45. Krzysztof Wodiczko, Tijuana Projec tion 2001. 46. Krzysztof Wodiczko, Tijuana Projection 2001. 47. Associated Press, Untitled 1945. 48. Krzysztof Wodiczko, Hiroshima Projection 1999. 49. Krzysztof Wodiczko, Hiroshima Projection 1999. 50. Krzysztof Wodiczko, Hiroshima Projection 1999. 51. Krzysztof Wodiczko Alien Staff (three variations), 1992 1993. 52. Krzysztof Wodiczko, Alien Staff (relics' of Jagoda Przybylak, a Polish immigrant), 1993.


vi 53. Krzysztof Wodiczko, Alien Staff (broken family coffee cup in Patricia Pirreda's Alien Staf f ), 1993. 54. Krzysztof Wodiczko Alien Staff (Immigration Department deportation notice in Abdelkader N'Dali's Alien Staff ), 1993. 55. Krzysztof Wodiczko, Alien Staff 1994. 56. Krzysztof Wodiczko, Alien Staff 1993. 57. Krzysztof Wodiczko, Alien Staff 1993. 58. Krzysztof Wodiczko, Alien Staff 199 4 59. Krzysztof Wodiczko, Alien Staff 1992 60. Krzysztof Wodiczko, Alien Staff 1992.


vii MAKING AND BREAKING PUBLIC SPACE: NARRATIVE INTERVENTIONS AS A FORM OF CONTEMPORARY PUBLIC ART PRACTICE Madelyn Ringold Brown New College of Florida, 2012 ABSTRACT In 1990 Suzanne Lacy coined the term "new genre public art" to describe a new breed of public art practitioners whose work reinvigorated an impoverished and marginal field. The primary tenet of "new genre public art" is that a work can be considered public as a result of its subject matter and social import rather than its placement. This thesis explores the contemporary relevance of this genre that was envisioned over twenty years ago. To this end I engage with a number of theories to reevaluate the significance of space and public as socially created states. The first chapter contains a brief history of public art as it has developed in the United States. The second introduces relevant theories tha t serve as a framework for the art that I analyze. The following two chapters explore the work of two contemporary artists, Francis Als and Krzysztof Wodiczko. These artists share an interest in the significance of subjective experience within dominant so cial and political value systems.


viii They restore the subjective body though the creation, reinterpretation, or projection of narratives. Als uses his own body in performances that question the authenticity of a reality constructed through hegemonic power sy stems. Such performances elaborate on or produce fables that suspend meaning and open up a space that may reveal the absurdity of certain circumstances. Wodiczko stages or facilitates situations that amplify personal narratives that have been subjugated or suppressed. The narratives, or testimonies, provided by the participants in these pieces reveal the complexities of human emotion and experience in a reality that silences them under the threat of further marginalization. I believe that the pieces I analy ze present a unique model for contemporary public art practice. Professor Cris Hassold


1 Introduction My discovery of Art History came fairly late in my college career; however, when it happened it had a profound and immediate impact on my thinking. I had a lways been involved in creative projects, but Art History granted me access to a new perspective. My first concern, after I found myself enamored with this field, was whether or not I could justify pursuing it. Art, particularly in the postmodern context, seemed an engrossing yet frivolous pursuit without any real social relevance. I quickly discovered how wrong I was as I began to explore the social power of art and the various forms through which this power could be expressed. As I now know, art in any a ge can be understood as an expression of the social, psychological, and philosophical developments that marked the time period. I soon became extremely interested in the ephemeral in art that spoke of embodied spatial experience, art that resonated through its process and thus referred to a larger creative experience, one hardly containable within the frame. I first realized this as I experienced the almost alchemical layering of paint that was characteristic of so many abstract expressionists, particularly Robert Motherwell, Hans Hoffman, and Jackson Pollock. I loved the sense of material history that each piece contained, its palimpsestic record of the painter's hand and process. This interest encouraged me to evaluate the meaning made in art as a meaning produced by the encounter between the viewer and the piece. When I discovered the art historical writing and criticism of the likes of Hal Foster, Henry Sayre, Susan Sontag,


2 Rosalind Deutsche, and Rosalind Krauss, I came to better understand the incredibl e power of the field. I became quite interested in space, particularly the space of meaning and creation commented upon in both the exhibition space and the space of enactment. An interest in earth art and pondering space and its use led me eventually to public art. At the recommendation of a friend, I read Whose Art Is It? a journalistic investigation by Jane Kramer focusing on a controversial public installation in the South Bronx by the artist John Ahearn. This book brought to my attention the issues of representation that occur in the public sphere. Through this one particular issue, Kramer is able to explore the multiple forms of identity and self presentation available in any given community. I quickly became interested in public art that was process based oriented towards political and social commentary, and embedded within the community for whom it was presumably erected. I began to question how a theory of public art could go about addressing the traditional division erected between private and pub lic realms. Reading and learning about poststructural theory encouraged me to question the implications of simple dichotomies, such as the one drawn between private and public. Traditional examples of public art practice, exemplified by abstract sculptures and monuments did not convey the complexity of this field of practice, nor did it address the issues of representation that I valued. I spent the summer in New York City and had the opportunity to see the Francis Als retrospective at MoMA. I had not hear d of Als before, and I was struck by how relevant his work was to my particular area of interest. This experience inspired me to reconsider the ways that an artwork can be "public."


3 In the process of writing this thesis including the process of research that it entailed, my understanding of public art practice has seriously developed, and I believe that writing it has only furthered my desire to engage in this field. In this thesis I will explore the ways that contemporary public art practice can fit wit hin a dialectic of poetics and politics, re imagining the division between subject and object, private and public, in order to address and stimulate the creation of communal experience thus questioning where and how power is produced. 1 I am particularly co ncerned with the restitution of the political and social within our understanding of subjective experience, and how personal and collective narratives and memories can begin to inform our understanding of cultural identity and political power. I will use a s examples the work of two contemporary artists, Francis Als and Krzysztof Wodiczko, who, I believe, exemplify this new area of public practice. In order to do this, I will re address the term "public:" whose values are represented by the dominant unders tanding of public? How and when has "public" been traditionally separated from "private," and how can I deconstruct this dichotomy to expose the marginalization and suppression of difference? And how can we reconstitute the importance of personal experienc e and narrative within the public sphere, whilst maintaining the political freedom implied by public space? Answering these questions has proven to be a three part process. First I will trace a history of public art practice 1 In this thesis I will be using the Foucaultian sense of power. As Foucault proposed, power is relational and produced within the social nexus rather than above it or outside of it, contained within specific institutions or discreet structures. Power is everyw here and, like public space, can only exist as it is put into action through discourse and the production of knowledge or ways of knowing. Although Foucault's notion of power underwent some changes during his life, a text that I have found very helpful in tracing these changes is Michel Foucault: Beyond Structuralism and Hermeneutics by Hubert L. Dreyfus and Paul Rabinow (Chicago: The Chicago University Press, 1983).


4 from its traditional incarnatio n as the civic monument. Then, I explore some theories that I have found extremely helpful in approaching a new (or perhaps not so new) way of defining and critiquing public art. Finally, I analyze the works of the aforementioned artists, Francis Als and Krzysztof Wodiczko, in terms of the definition of public art that I have proposed.


5 Chapter One: A History of Public Art from monuments to moments "Depending on how one begins the record, public art has a history as ancient as cave painting or as recent a s the Art in Public Places Program of the National Endowment for the Arts." 2 This versatility is largely due to our changing understanding of what the word public actually means and what values its definition entails. Although, as Suzanne Lacy explains, th ere is no agreed upon historical trajectory, one can get a basic sense of public art's development in the United States by tracing the history of federal support, commissioning, conferences, and theories that have so far characterized the practice and shap ed its outcomes. I would like to begin my brief history with the traditional monument and move to present day theories and practices, which have begun to stress a fundamental level of social engagement as well as a reconsideration of the term public. Civi c monuments, such as those produced and commissioned in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, were and are often created as a tribute to government leaders and auspicious events. These "stable" public signifiers that mark their own longevity em body and produce an implicitly sanctioned code of national ideologies. Federal support of traditional public art demonstrated by the construction of monuments, memorials, and public installations reveals how "public culture constructs a 2 Suzanne Lacy, "Introduction: Cultural Pilgrimages and Metaphoric Journeys," in Mapping the Terrain: New Genre Public Art ed. Suzanne Lacy (Seattle: Bay Press, 1995), 21.


6 past" 3 which "sign ifies an inevitability." 4 Monuments are produced as elements of a national history that utilize a preexisting visual language. The first public artwork to receive federal funding in the United States was Horatio Greenough's George Washington (fig. 1), a 1 2 ton marble statue of the first president commissioned by the U.S. Congress in 1832 to commemorate the centennial anniversary of his birth. 5 The statue, installed in the Capitol Rotunda in 1841 was greeted by an outpouring of criticism. Greenough had chos en to depict George Washington in neoclassical style, modeling him after a classical Greek sculpture of Zeus. 6 In the monument George Washington is draped in a robe, chest exposed with one hand gesturing towards the heavens while the other passes off a swo rd to the invisible hand of the American public, hilt forward a figuration meant to represent the way that George Washington restored power to the people after the Revolutionary War. 7 Many found the image of the half naked former president offensive and e ven comical. In 1843 after numerous complaints about the public display of nudity within the 3 Malcolm Miles, Art, Space, and The City: Public Art and Urban Futures (London: Routledge, 1997), 61. 4 Miles, Art, Space, and the City 73. 5 Erika Doss, "Public Art Co ntroversy: Cultural Expression and Civic Debate," Monograph (one of the benefits of Americans for the Arts ) (October 2006): 2, accessed January 23, 2012, ; "Landmark Object: George Washington Statue 1841," National Museum of American History Kenneth E. Behring Center accessed January 23, 2012, 6 Such references to Greco Roman aesthetics and history serve to situate American natio nality within a long line of western political domination that champions and conflates beauty and form with truth, reason, justice, and liberty. As is noted on the National Museum of American History fact sheet on Greenough's statue, "Washington's figure i s modeled on the classical statuary of ancient Greece, seat of the world's first democracy ." ("Landmark Object: George Washington Statue, 1841"; emphasis added). Another key example of this made by another federal monument in Washington D.C. is the Lincoln Memorial which is clearly structured after the Parthenon. 7 "Landmark Object: George Washington Statue, 1841."


7 Capitol rotunda, along with concerns over the weight of the massive statue affecting the floor of the rotunda, George Washington was moved to the east lawn of the Capitol. 8 Here he was exposed to the ridicule of those who joked that he was reaching desperately for his clothing out in the open air. 9 In 1908 the monument was moved to the Smithsonian Institution and from there it made its way to the New American Muse um of History where it can be seen to this day. 10 It is no longer "public" in the traditional sense of the word. It now exists in a space that has effectively recodified it as an historical artifact. Its original controversy as a slightly misguided cultura l signifier that stood as a testament to liberty, democracy, and the American dream of self improvement, has been neutered in favor of positioning it as an archival moment in federal sculpture. Its original purpose, however, to monumentalize a specific mom ent and figure of American history, and even its status as artifact, is a value that is still immanently public. Its physical movement, from the rotunda to the lawn to the Smithsonian to the New American Museum of History is a valuable reminder that the t erm "public" references a predominantly psychological space and set of concerns. The public that Washington was designed to serve was not contingent upon site as much as the dialectic between cultural memory and cultural representation. Monuments and publi c art within this tradition continue to function through their longevity. Like the memories that they are designed to preserve and represent, they last as a reminder of shared values and identity. Personal experience is sublimated into 8 Doss, "Public Art Controversy," 3. 9 "George Washington Sculpture by Horatio Greenough, 1840," Legacies: Collecting America's History at the Smithsonian last modified 2001, accessed January 24, 2012, 10 Doss, "Public Art Controversy," 3.


8 anonymous figures t hat come to stand for the American experience. The beginnings of public art practice are characterized by this desire to sculpt something universal and lasting, to create a message that resonates through multiple generations and publics. "Monuments are fam iliar in the spaces of most cities, standing for a stability which conceals the internal contradictions of society and survives the day to day fluctuations of history. The majority in society is persuaded, by monuments amongst other civil institutions, to accept those contradictions, the monument becoming a device of social control less brutish and costly than armed force." 11 This is perhaps one reason why figurative works make up such a large percentage of early public art the human form is considered a un iversal point of relation. Western ideals of beauty emphasize a pure and transcendent presence that is most powerfully represented by the perfection of human form, and most notably, the male form or the female form interpreted through the male gaze. The public" referenced and idealized by this body of practice is one that occurs and is sustained within a designated space that has been deemed "public" by city planners. One good example of this vision of public art are those longstanding monuments to publi c figures and historical events that once had meaning but have since become more appreciated by birds than people. The fundamental problem with this variety of public art practice, which is generally found in parks or city squares, is that it considers pub lic as a spatial phenomenon rather than a temporal or psychological one. Such an understanding of "public" diverts attention away from the politics of 11 Miles, Art, Space, and The City, 58.


9 representation that occur in the fecund intersection of diverse subjectivities and ignores the waning of political or social relevance. Abstraction and the suppression of difference beneath the promise of stability In an echo of the nineteenth century proliferation of monuments and memorials, the 1960s inaugurated an era of immense expansion in the commission ing of public artworks. 12 Although the traditional monument continued to brand the further development of public art practice, particularly with its tendency towards the permanent, site specific sculpture, 13 contemporary public practice truly emerged with th e establishment of the Art in Public Places Program at the National Endowment for the Arts in 1967 and the ripples that it created in terms of state and city percent for art programs. 14 During this time, federal, state, and municipal governments began to ex plore new ways to support the development of art in "public places" that could exist as pure aesthetic objects. Though the impulse seems a stark contrast to the original drive to memorialize historic events or figures through federal monuments, the NEA's founding principles emphasize the preservation of a national legacy of artistic and creative production. The NEA Chairman's use of the following quote from the famous American psychologist and 12 Miles, Art, Space, and The City, 3. 13 The move t owards site specific practice will later be addressed with regard to Richard Serra's Tilted Arc in order to demonstrate the way in which this term is often misconstrued and misunderstood as it is involved in the Art in Architecture program, and similar fed erally supported public art programs. I use the term here in reference to the language used by federal commissioning bodies, but also as a way to begin questioning its various meanings and the various philosophies at stake when it is misappropriated. 14 La cy, "Introduction," 21.


10 philosopher, William James, emphasizes the institution's desire for permanence and stability: "The greatest use of a life is to spend it on something that will outlast it." 15 The focus of federally funded public art was shifted to enhancing the visual appeal of public places as well as expanding public awareness of pr acticing contemporary artists. One appeal of government funded art was an assumption that such support promised "democratic participation" that would "promote public rather than private interests." 16 It also seemed to guarantee an alternative route to publi c recognition for those artists who were not already esteemed by the arts community. During the seventies, art activists and administrators rallied in support of percent for art programs, and these combined with NEA grants and private sector money allowed for massive expansion of public art. The NEA's goal was "to give the public access to the best art of our time outside museum walls." 17 This meant that the art that garnered funding and was erected in the public sphere had more to do with the visual langua ge of a specific art history that had been codified by museum representation and academic interest than it did with the specific social structure of a given city or site. The multi step funding process and the codification of the genre "public art" meant t hat, in its early years, federal support was justified only by the creation of permanent objects that could attest to the artist's creative 15 William James, as quoted by Bill Ivey (Chairman of NEA), foreword to National Endowment for the Arts, 1965 2000: A Brief Chronology of Federal Support for the Arts rev. ed., ed. Keith Donohue (1995; repr., Washington, D.C.: Offic e of Communications, National Endowment for the Arts, 2000): 5, accessed March 20, 2012, 16 Lacy, "Introduction," 22. 17 Ibid.


11 vision and the government's promise to provide widespread access to those aesthetics thought to represent American v alues. 18 What occurred was a shift from the language of figuration and historical monument to one of abstraction and aesthetic monument, and debates centered more on artistic styles than public values. Barbara Hoffman argues that, "The victory of abstracti on meant that what was selected as public art was for the most part not public in the sense of shared aesthetic vocabulary, symbolism, or worldview between artists and their audiences." 19 As Patricia Phillips remarked in a 1988 Artforum article addressing the state of public art, the selection criteria and bureaucratic procedures installed to support public art creation were, "not unlike American housing reform in the late 19th century which was not based on constructive legislation for a sound life, but on the absolute lowest standards of acceptability the public art machine' now often encourages mediocrity." 20 Instead of serving as a conduit for the retrieval of potent artworks, the public art machine described by Phillips too often served as a mold, s culpting the works that it commissioned and funded through its painstaking procedural hoops, and in the end it merely mass produced a palatable though disconnected abstract form that "occupies" far more than inhabits or sculpts. Public art, instead of foc using on fundamental social 18 Patricia Fuller, as quoted in Lacy "Introduction," 22 23. The quote that this idea comes from is, "the public art establishment[with] an increasing tendency toward complication and rigidification of processes, the codification of a genre called public art, [and] ideas of professionalism which admit artists and administrators to the fraternit y. This all seems to have created an apparatus which can only be justified by the creation of permanent objects." 19 Barbara Hoffman, "Law for Art's Sake in the Public Realm," in Art in the Public Sphere ed. W. J. T. Mitchell (Chicago: The University of C hicago Press, 1992), 115. 20 Patricia Phillips, "Out of Order: The Public Art Machine," Artforum ,93


12 engagement, has become sublimated into a new social commodity that serves corporate developers in their efforts to woo an abstract public sphere by "beautifying" the urban regions they colonize. With time, the agencies involved in public art became more aware of the complications involved in bridging visual arts with the interests of the public. Modernist artistic practices generally disavowed mass appeal, in favor of individual creative vision, a philosophy that instigated much controversy over the formal appeal of some federally funded public works. Eventually, in the seventies, the NEA began to express concern for the public referred to in "public art" and stressed that a work should be "appropriate to the immediate site." 21 Th is concern for place expanded into a gradual stepping up of educational programs that would accompany the installation or execution of a public piece. In 1979 the NEA stipulated that funded works should provide "methods to insure an informed community res ponse to the project." 22 In 1983 this concern was heightened through a stressing of proper preparatory efforts that would "educate and prepare the community" and highlighted that public works should make "plans for community involvement, preparation, and di alogue." By the early nineties the NEA went so far as to promote "educational activities which invite community involvement." 23 Such specific developments in the area of community interests were designed in an effort to scale back public art that alienated the public that it was meant to address. The NEA's original impetus to beautify a blighted urban environment was necessarily altered by the people inhabiting this environment whose growing distrust of the rarified 21 Lacy, "Introduction," 23. 22 Lacy, "Introduction," 24. 23 Ibid.


13 realm of the arts led to multiple controve rsies in the public sphere. A quote from the artist Jeff Kelley demonstrates the problematic interpretation of site specificity that tends to pervade both the federal and art activist discourses on community based arts practice: What too many artists did w as to parachute into a place and displace it with art. Site specificity was really more like the imposition of a kind of disembodied museum zone onto what already had been very meaningful and present before that, which was the place. 24 Kelley implies that spaces are whole and meaningful independent of their use, and that art can "displace" already present meanings rather than produce new ones. This tendency objectifies both space and the communities that use any given space, flattening differences and diver gent subjectivities. Many strands of discourse that contribute to the construction and reformation of public art, including those produced within federal commissioning bodies and those generated within the field of "activist art" (an area that tends to se e itself as distinctly opposed to the motivating philosophies of the "public art machine") have this inimical tendency to quash the contingencies of space and art that lend public art its potential as a site of resistance. The controversy over Richard Serr a's Tilted Arc helps to illustrate some of these major concerns, which are of particular importance as I try to get closer to an understanding of "public" that recasts the purpose and potential of public art. Tilted Arc Tilted Arc (fig. 2) was commissioned by the Government Services Administration (GSA) Art in Architecture program and installed in New York City's Federal Plaza in July of 1981. This same year Edward Re of the Court of International Law initiated a 24 Jeff Kelley, as quoted in Lacy, "Introduction," 24.


14 letter writing campaign calling for the remo val of the sculpture. 25 Little happened until 1984, when Ronald Reagan took office and appointed a new Republican administration throughout the federal bureaucracy. 26 The east plaza, in which the sculpture was installed, faces the Federal Building, the large st federal office building outside of Washington, D.C., also home to the Court of International Law (Edward Re's office). 27 It also faces Foley Square, New York's civic center, which is circled by local and federal courts, the Department of Motor Vehicles, the Department of Health, as well as many other government buildings. 28 As Tom Finkelpearl notes, "it is a highly visible site in the culture of government." 29 When word was spread that the new Regional Administrator, William Diamond planned to reopen the Ti lted Arc issue that was originally catalyzed by Edward Re, two petitions were circulated one calling for the statue's removal, signed primarily by office workers in the Federal Building, and one demonstrating support for the statue. Each petition, when pre sented at the hearing, contained 1,300 signatures. The political minutiae of this particular case are long and involved, but basically, the public for which the sculpture was intended rejected its value and aesthetic significance, calling it a nuisance an d an obstruction of both physical and visual passage. Serra approached the plaza as a "pedestal site" and thought that his work had effectively "dislocated" the traditional decorative function of the plaza, taking hold as a conceptually and physically cons tructive work. The office worker's points of attack were in direct opposition to Serra's intention, which was to "engage the public in dialogue that would 25 Tom Finkelpearl, "Interview: Dougla s Crimp on Tilted Arc ," in Dialogues in Public Art (Cambridge: MIT Press, 2001), 61. 26 Ibid. 27 Ibid. 28 Ibid. 29 Ibid.


15 perceptually and conceptually enhance its relation to the entire plaza." 30 According to Serra, the wor k "through its location, height, length, horizontality, and lean, grounds one into the physical condition of the plaza." 31 Serra's hope that the giant piece would drastically alter the lived experience of the plaza was fulfilled; however, the change was not received as a positive nor conceptually interesting or a valuable transformation. Eight years after its installation, the piece was removed in order to (in the famous words of William Diamond), "increase public use of the plaza." 32 What is of primary conce rn in this instance is not so much who is at fault (Serra for losing sight of the preexisting social space of the plaza; the public that called for the destruction of the piece, perhaps signaling a fundamental unwillingness to let themselves be challenged by the monumental work; or even the GSA for ignoring the philosophy of the Art in Architecture program which calls for educational outreach programs to accompany commissions that could have provided the target audience with a better introduction to site sp ecific installation or modern sculpture), but rather what questions this controversy raises. According to Patricia Phillips, Richard Serra's Tilted Arc "achieved its most profound public resonance at that moment when its future seemed most uncertain." 33 Thi s moment, and related instances of public art's censorship or removal open up a space for dialogue where we can reexamine the role of artists in the community and discuss the power that art has to instigate a reevaluation of lived 30 Richard Serra, testimony in Public Art, Public Controversy: The "Tilted Arc" on Trial ed. Sherrill Jordan et al. (New York, 1987), 148. 31 Ibid. 32 William Diamond as quoted in Rosalyn Deutsche. Tilted Arc and the Uses of Democracy," in Evictions: Art and Spatial Politics ed. Rosalyn Deutsche (Cambridge: MIT Press, 1996), 258. 33 Patricia Phillips, "Out of Order", 94 95.


16 experience and cultural i dentity. However, federal bodies employed in the commissioning and funding of public works are not necessarily interested in creating controversy and thus public art has become thoroughly dominated by abstraction that obscures its communicative value. Unf ortunately, the Tilted Arc case became so thoroughly divisive as to overlook the positive effects it could have had in the commissioning and creation of public work. As Douglas Crimp noted during the hearing, "This hearing does not attempt to build a commo nality of interest in art in the public realmThis is not a hearing about the social function of that art might have in our lives." 34 Each side remained firmly rooted in their critical discourse, demonstrating complete intellectual inflexibility. The entire controversy had lasting effects on the American public arts establishment. Tom Finkelpearl was elected director of New York City's Percent for Art Program in 1990 and witnessed many of these changes first hand. According to him, "the changes enacted by co mmissioning agencies, in general, were procedural and superficial. They were based on the negative rather than positive lessons of the Tilted Arc controversy, based on fear of controversy rather than an attempt to understand what might be truly meaningful to the users of the site." 35 These reforms entailed both a further bureaucratization, with the GSA staff making the final artist selection based on a set of "objective" evaluation criteria, and a closer engagement with the community, with a "diverse" publi c represented at selection meetings. 36 34 Clara Wyergraf Serra and Martha Buskirk, eds., The Destruction of Tilted Arc: Documents (Camridge: MIT Press, 1991), 73. 35 Finkelpearl, "Interview," 65. 36 Ibid.


17 As Rosalyn Deutsche notes in her essay on the topic, the question is not whether Tilted Arc is "good public art" or whether the government had the authority to remove the sculpture, but rather how the General Service A dministration controlled the discourse and thus produced the terms upon which the sculpture's removal was acceptable. During the course of the proceedings the crucial (and hugely ambiguous) terms, "public" and "use" and "public use" were used as if their m eaning was already determined. 37 The debate was framed as a decision between the continued presence of Tilted Arc or the increased "public use of the plaza," effectively implying that Tilted Arc decreased "public use of the plaza" thereby refusing its condi tion as "public." "The public" was presumed to be a group of aggregated individuals unified by their adherence to fundamental, objective values or by their possession of essential needs and interests or, what amounts to the same thing, divided by equally essential conflicts. "Use" referred to the act of putting space into the service of fundamental pleasures and needs. Objects and practices in space were held to be of "public use" if they are uniformly beneficial, expressing common values or fulfilling uni versal needs (sic). 38 In this case, and as Deutsche makes clear, "public" is constricted to serve only one "public" and it is through a justification of their rights to a certain space or activity that is deemed "useful" that a space can be appropriated. T he terms of this debate reveal the ways that space and, in this case, "public space," can be constructed as a coherent and self evident term that condenses "use" and "public" into an objectivity outside of the debate itself, so as to disavow the antagonism s, heterogeneity, ambiguity, multiplicity, and particularity that produce and constitute social life. As I mentioned earlier, Tilted Arc was not universally accessible aesthetic sign. However, implying that a public work should exist in a universally acces sible aesthetic 37 Deutsche, Tilted Arc and the Uses of Democracy," 258. 38 Deutsche, Tilted Arc and the Uses of Democracy ," 259.


18 realm, and that it should serve as a particular and largely predetermined public good, tends to feed into the tradition of federally funded public artworks that contribute to the appropriation of both the term "public" as well as the space that it can modify. "Simply proposing the plurality of equally universal uses of space leaves untouched the depoliticizing language of use that was the most powerful weapon wielded against Tilted Arc. 39 I think that the most important issue raised in Deuts che's discussion is the way that space can be appropriated through language and the suppression of difference. The removal of the Tilted Arc highlights a fundamental misconception and misinterpretation of site specificity. Site specific art, in its origin al inception, was structured as a direct refutation to the modernist doctrine of art, which considers an art object to exist in a hermetic space of aesthetic meaning stabilized, self governing, and self present and can therefore be moved intact from space to space without changing the work's meaning. 40 Site specific works and the artists that created them, sought to problematize the autonomy denoted by the modernist art object and point out that such concerns ignore art's social, political, and economic func tions. A work's meaning is formed in relation to its context "and therefore changes with the circumstances in which the work is produced and displayed." 41 Those involved with the relocation of Serra's Tilted Arc largely ignored this concern, linking site sp ecificity to the Art in Architecture Program's desire for "integration" of the art with the site, as is expressed on the GSA's fact sheet about the program, commissioned works should "enhance the building's 39 Deutsche, Tilted Arc and the Uses of Democracy," 260. 40 Deutsche, Tilted Arc and the Uses of Democracy," 261. 41 Ibid.


19 environment for the occupants and the general pub lic." 42 Basically, this philosophy borrowed the modernist aestheticization of the art object and expected a similar construction of a harmonious spatial totality through the public work's integration with the preexisting architecture. Some art critics tend to neutralize site specificity by referring to a work's social context only to constrain the true mutability of a social whole as they assert its unity existing outside of the realm of art practice. This, too, fixes aesthetic meaning, attaches objectified meaning to site, and draws strict boundaries around what is considered "good" public art. Engaging with the philosophical doctrine of site specific practice, as well as the institutional and academic misinterpretations of the field, allows for a closer ex amination of an art practice that is fundamentally dubious of spatial coherence. As Deutsche emphasizes, practitioners of site specific art understand spatial coherence, "not as an a priori condition subsequently disturbed by conflicts in space but as a fi ction masking the conflicts that produce space." 43 Such a turbulent understanding of space as a process to be worked through rather than a coherence to be arrived at will serve as the foundation for my further exploration of public art. By taking space to b e a product of actions rather than a concrete realm in which actions are preformed, I believe we can form a basis for finding works that productively question and disturb the solidification of social and political meaning. In what seems to be an attempt a t suppressing controversy, abstract works of public art have become ever more popular in recent years, creating a considerable dulling of its transformative potential. "If traditional public art identified certain classical styles 42 Serra and Buskirk, Destruction of Tilted Arc 23. 43 Deutsche, Tilted Arc and the Uses of Democracy," 262.


20 as appropriate to the emb odiment of public images, contemporary public art has turned to the monumental abstraction as its acceptable icon. What Kate Linker calls the corporate bauble' in the shopping mall or bank plaza need have no iconic or symbolic relation to the public it se rves, the space it occupies, or the figures it reveres. It is enough that it remain an emblem of aesthetic surplus, a token of art' imported into and adding value to a public space." 44 Not only is there a disconnect between the interests of corporate and f ederal sponsors and the communities who are host to the public works manufactured by this machine, there is also a crippling disparity between the language of modern art and the language of everyday life and local cultural representation. As was demonstrat ed during the Tilted Arc trial, the discourse surrounding public art has become a site of struggle over the meanings and uses of democracy. Vietnam Veterans Memorial There are quite a few public works that speak to the creation and incorporation of a publ ic rather than acting on the assumption that there is an objectified public or community to which the piece refers. Because my discussion of recent public art development has dealt primarily with problematic abstract monuments, I believe it is worthwhile t o continue and expand this discussion in relation to another highly iconic American memorial. Abstract pieces that succeed in creating a public are notable insofar as they place themselves within a political context that reflects personal accounts of cultu ral experience rather than testifying to universal values. The meaning in these works is dependent upon the experience of the viewer much more than the presence of the 44 W. J. T. Mitchell, "The Violence of Public Art," in Art in the Public Sphere ed. W. J. T. Mitchell (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1992), 33.


21 object. Within and through such pieces one can begin to conceive of the various ways a p ublic is addressed through its creation and incorporation into the meaning making process of the piece. The iconic piece to which I am referring is Maya Lin's Vietnam Veteran's Memorial (VVM) (fig. 4) 45 The now celebrated memorial, which grew out of a dra wing chosen between 1,421 entries submitted to a public design competition, consists of a "V" shaped slash of black polished granite upon whose reflective surface the names of those killed or missing as a result of the Vietnam War are etched (fig. 5). It w as dedicated in 1982 and has since then become "the most visited of all the memorials in Washington" 46 as well as a source of extreme public controversy. The work steps beyond the boundaries of traditional memorials in that it utilizes an abstract visual l anguage to convey personal feelings of mourning and betrayal. Lin's memorial "deftly situate[s her] work so as to expose spatial relationships that are also historical and political" 47 each arm of the piece points towards a significant site on the mall, the Lincoln Memorial and the Washington Monument. The work is most potent firsthand where one can see their own reflection superimposed upon the names of the dead and lost (fig. 6 7). Like the intersecting walls themselves, the work stimulates the concurre nce of presence and absence, challenging any clear moral conclusion on the 45 It should be noted that this memorial was constructed entirely with private contributions. Though its place in the Mall among various testaments to American courage and national identity necessitated that the chosen design be approved through a lengthy federal process. 46 Charles L. Griswold, "The Vietnam Veterans Memorial and the Washington Mall: Philosophical Thoughts on Political Iconography," in Art in the Public Sphere ed. W. J. T. Mitchell (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1992), 79. 47 Michael North, "The Public as Sculpture: From Heavenly City to Mass Ornament," in Art in the Public Sphere ed. W. J. T. Mitchell (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1992), 25


22 Vietnam War. Perhaps for the first time in the dominant history of monuments and memorials the VVM makes the experience and sentiment of the viewer an essential part of understandin g the piece's power. Lin said that she intended the memorial "to bring out in people the realization of loss and a cathartic healing process." 48 For many Americans, however, this abstract reference that depends upon the participation and presence of the vie wer and his/her personal experience does not convey strongly enough the desire that is satisfied by the pure presence of figurative memorials, whose message is often clearly evoked through an apparent figuration. In a statement submitted as part of the des ign, Lin wrote, "Brought to a sharp awareness of such a loss, it is up to each individual to resolve or come to terms with this loss. For death is in the end a personal and private matter and the area contained within this memorial is a quiet place, meant for personal reflection and private reckoning." 49 Such a personal settling of accounts that leaves the valor of the war undetermined spurred a bitter debate between supporters and opponents of the design. As a result of this contention it was finally decid ed that the memorial would be expanded with two auxiliary objects, a monument depicting three servicemen (one white, one Hispanic, and one black) and a flagpole (fig. 8 10). Notable persons such as James Watt (President Reagan's first Secretary of the Inte rior) insisted that those Americans who lost their lives fighting in the war should be more concretely recognized as heroic, thus justifying their death in service of the United States in a war that continues to remain ambiguous. The sculpture (fig. 8) is by Frederick Hart whose rendering of the three anonymous soldiers is neither heroic nor 48 John S. Lang, "A memorial wall that healed our wounds," U.S. News and World Report 95, (21 Nov. 1983): 68. 49 "Statement by Maya Ying Lin, March 1981 (presented as part of her design submission),"


23 mournful, but in some ways maintains the contemplative effect of Lin's VVM (fig. 9). Presumably the addition of the flag (fig. 10) makes up for this vagueness particula rly with the inscription at the base of the flagpole, which reads "THIS FLAG REPRESENTS THE SERVICE RENDERED TO OUR COUNTRY BY THE VETERANS OF THE VIETNAM WAR. THE FLAG AFFIRMS THE PRINCIPLES OF FREEDOM FOR WHICH THEY FOUGHT AND THEIR PRIDE IN HAVING SERVE D UNDER DIFFICULT CIRCUMSTANCES." 50 However the distance between Lin's VVM, Hart's statue, and the flag is so great that there is no real tension created by their simultaneous presence (fig. 11). Griswold believes that "Their presence on the same plot of la nd will eventually seemlike faint echoes of the old and bitter debates about the Vietnam War, briefly reignited in the recent discussions about the political iconography suitable to memorializing it." 51 Although Lin's work has come to be esteemed and laude d as one of the most sensitive and moving war memorials in American, the original controversy it stirred is reflected in the addition of the two auxiliary memorial devices. The controversy surrounding this public work again reflects the drive within public art discourse to subdue possible dissent by resorting to a largely objectified vision of the public sphere, and reaffirming its ownership of dominant public experience and recognition. Summing up in order to continue That public art has the power to stir such controversy highlights the fact that public art and site specific installation are never purely aesthetic but also always 50 Charles L. Griswold, "The Vietnam Veterans Memorial and the Washington Mall," 106. 51 Griswold, "The Vietnam Veterans Memorial and the Washington Mall,"107.


24 political. 52 In light of this brief history, it is now necessary to readdress the term "public" from a more theoretical perspecti ve, particularly as it has been demonstrated that it is often taken for granted when and where it matters most. I would like to bring to this history of public art an expanded sense of the social production of space. There are many artists whose works hav e broken the traditional boundaries of public art that restrict it to monuments or abstract sculptures, artists that have taken as their medium the field of social relations and personal or cultural narratives. 52 See Barbara Hoffman, "Law for Art's Sake in the Pu blic Realm," in Art in the Public Sphere ed. W. J. T. Mitchell (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1992). In this essay she mentions a number of federally funded public artworks whose modernist aesthetic proved to be a point of public contention (G eorge Sugarman, Alexander Calder, Claes Oldenburg, Mark di Suvero, and Alan Sonfist), along with those public artists whose works contain a much more specific political critique (Edward A. Kane, Sr., David Nelson, Spafford and Alden Mason) and effected sim ilar controversy and censorship.


25 Chapter Two: Producing a Space of Relations Spatial production In his book Art, Space, and the City: Public Art and Urban Futures Malcolm Miles proposes that public art creates two distinct spaces. One, elaborated by what Henri Lefebvre termed "representations of space," is projected by the autonom ous artwork around itself and functions as an "art space." This space is similar in quality to the value free space composed by a gallery and it allows the art piece to "[sit] comfortably within the conceptual spaces of city planning." 53 The other, produced by the space around the bodies of urban dwellers, is a more informal and protean public space that could fit within Lefebvre's theory of "representational spaces." This space is "replete with values, personal associations, appropriations, exclusions and i nvitations, and the shared and disputed issues of the public realm, a set of overlaying spaces disordered' by users, and as such a psychological rather than physical space." 54 As explained by Miles, these two forms of public space allow for public art to c arry out two distinct roles: either it can improve the plebian social sphere by providing it a clear and "open" point of access to a privileged aesthetic domain or it can become incorporated into the fabric of urban life, tied inextricably to the day to da y "lived" experience of the urban dweller. While the former fails to provide complete accessibility to those unschooled in the complex cultural codes that produce such visual signifiers the latter succeeds by providing a "means to 53 Miles, Art, Space, and The City, 36. 54 Ibid.


26 articulate the implicit v alues of a city when its users occupy the place of determining what the city is." 55 The former is often exemplified by the monument, in both its representational and abstract form as either "the hero on the horse" 56 or "the turd on the plaza." 57 The latter, w hich will be the focus of this thesis, produces social processes rather than traditional aesthetic products and thus has few permanent models. Instead it has the potential to elicit a dynamic interchange between the individual, the public, the artist, and the art. The theories of Henri Lefebvre, particularly his work within The Production of Space (1974) provide a crucial foundation for Miles's understanding of public art and the various modalities through which it operates. In The Production of Space Hen ri Lefebvre argues that any account of contemporary reality that ignores the social construction of space is lacking. In it he searches for a way to both read and construct space that realizes the importance of physical and psychological experience in such a construction and evaluation. Cartesian dualism, which considers the products of the intellect to be distinct from the embodied experience of social relations, took for granted the subjective values attributed to space. Lefebvre's theories resituate the body as an essential conduit of our unique understandings of space and experience and explode the notion that "empty space 55 Ibid. 56 Arlene Raven, "Introduction," in Art in the Public Interest ed. Arlene Raven (Ann Arbor: UMI Research Press, 1989), 1. The full quote from Raven is: "Public art isn 't a hero on a horse anymoreart in the public interest extends the possibilities of public art to include a critique of the relations of art to the public domain." 57 This critique of "plop art" or insensitive site specific sculptures has been attributed to the architect James Wine. I cannot find the exact place or time when he is purported to have said this. However, Tom Wolfe, in the foreword to SITE: Identity and Density (part of the Master Architect Series) quotes him as having said, "I don't mind if t hey keep building these boring glass boxes, but why do they always deposit that little turd in the plaza when they leave?"


27 is prior to whatever ends up filling it." 58 This move is so important because it locates bodies as primary sites of knowledge producti on, instead of glossing over them as merely the storage sites of our intellects. As Lefebvre states, "Western philosophy has betrayed the body; it has actively participated in the great process of metaphorization that has abandoned the body; and it has den ied the body." 59 To deconstruct Cartesian dualism Lefebvre considers the body to be both subject and object and re envisions space as the dialectical product of physical, social, and mental experience in which the body is an active participant. As Lefebvre sees it, social space is inextricable from the mental space designated by mathematicians and cartographers, as well as the physical space created by sensory activity that perceives space. His three primary tenets further define this triad of spatial produ ction: spatial practice, representations of space, and representational spaces, or respectively the conceived, perceived, and lived experiences of space. Spatial practice, as I have come to understand it, is similar in its production and reproduction to a performative utterance, 60 whose truth is constituted by its presentation and interpretation. Spatial practice guarantees a social cohesion that is experienced by each individual through her or his embodiment of a designated social space and is composed of d aily routines that mark a community's experience and construction of a 58 Henri Lefebvre, The Production of Space (Malden: Blackwell Publishing, 1974), 15. His work directly contradicts Heidegarrian under standings of space/time, which conceives of a Space as Being and Time as Becoming. 59 Lefebvre, The Production of Space 407. 60 J. L. Austin, How To Do Things With Words (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1975). As J. L. Austin proposed, "to say somethi ng is to do something" (12). In referencing J. L. Austin's term and notion I am considering it in light of Judith Butler's development, which allows for a theory of gender performativity. Gender, Butler argues, is created through its repetition and made t o seem real through this process of implicit reproduction.


28 space. The cohesion that Lefebvre specifies as part of spatial practice is created through the conjunction of the space offered by urban reality with the space offered by daily reality, "the specificity of place is continually reproduced." 61 The spatial practice of a society is produced by its daily experience of a space and city, through its movements and temporally embedded trajectories within that space; its use of roadways, elevators plazas, and parks. "The spatial practice of a society secretes that society's space; it propounds and presupposes it, in a dialectical interaction; it produces it slowly and surely as it masters and appropriates it." 62 Spatial practice inscribes the bound aries of urban experience and creates the conditions of urban life. Representations of space are those conceptualizations of space that enable one to consider space a physical phenomenon. Representations of space are "the perceptions or conceptions of spa ce which use signs and codes to enable a common language of space." 63 Representations of space are most clearly exemplified by maps that "identify what is lived and what is perceived with what is conceived." 64 These productions of space, usually conferred ve rbally or visually often make up the dominant spatial experience of any society. Why then does Miles associate this locus of the dialectic with a specific space created by public art? In this effort, I believe that Miles means the linkage to describe the c odification of aesthetic values that solidify a national and cultural memory clearly demonstrated by monuments or traditional public art, a tendency that parallels the collective acceptance of a space and spatial experience demarcated by a map 61 Doreen Massey, "Power geometry and a progressive sense of place" in Mapping the Futures: Local cultures, global change ed. Jon Bird et al. (London: Routledge, 1993), 68. 62 Henri Lefebvre, The Production of Space 38. 63 Malcolm Miles, Art, Space, and The City 46. 64 Henri Lefebvre, The Production of Space 38.


29 or similar e xplicatory device. Subjective experiences of space are often subordinated to widely accepted models of spatial possibility, which has the negative effect of conceptually restricting spatial practice. Representational space is the third term in this spatia l dialectic and it is the lived and felt spaces of everyday life, open to endless transformations mediated by experience, both historical and momentary. These spaces are perceived through the associated images and symbols of urban life and produced by the spaces of relations that enable our image of public life. Representational space "overlays physical space, making symbolic use of its objects." 65 Lefebvre believes these spaces to be "alive" in that they speak directly from historical moments, both universa l and individual, that formulate a specific experience of space. He considers them to be historical in that they reflect an understanding of spatial experience as garnered from both universal and individual temporal experience, insofar as contemporary expe rience reflects upon historical experience. Representational spaces take up the "passive" experience of space "which the imagination seeks to change and appropriate." 66 This mode of spatial production is associated with the arts and the creation of meaning, according to Lefebvre, and as conceived by Miles, is associated with a form of public practice that makes the experience of the urban dweller essential to the process of public art production. Now that these terms have been defined as three separate loci constituting the dialectical play of space, I must reemphasize the fact that they compose a triad, and without the simultaneous and concrete functioning of each modality our understanding of social space is compromised. I believe it is difficult to access the importance of this 65 Lefebvre, The Production of Space 39. 66 Ibid.


30 theory without understanding what is at stake if space is given not produced The reality of given space entails a system of spaces with predetermined character, perhaps designated by the state or a sovereign source of power. Given spaces have enduring presence, unalterable even by those who "use" them routinely. Experience of space would be mediated and universal, without hope for intervention or reconfiguration. This understanding locates power from without that is manifest in the control of imagery and experience that a space would accommodate. I believe the fundamental loss is one of experience and agency. The question is now how Lefebvre's dialectic relates to and furthers our understanding of public art, both its history and it s current deployment, and particularly how our understandings of social space help us to conceive of and deconstruct the traditional distinction between private and public realms. I will use Lefebvre's visionary understanding of space in conjunction with R osalind Deutsche's insightful figuration of public space set forth in "Agoraphobia," 67 as a framework guiding my evaluation of public art. I believe that the dialectic Lefebvre establishes is a valuable reminder that space is produced and not given, and pub lic artworks that participate in this complex network of relations must address this state of production. The democratic public sphere "How we define public space," says Deutsche, "is intimately connected with ideas about what it means to be human, the na ture of society, and the kind of political 67 Rosalind Deutsche, "Agoraphobia" in Evictions: Art and Spatial Politics (Cambridge: MIT Press, 1996), 267 327.


31 community we want." 68 Too often, purported advocates of public art concede to the difficulties of its stable definition, yet continue to insist that it is a space of consensus, coherence, and universality without r ealizing that such claims force plurality, difference, and antagonism into the private realm. Deutsche draws upon the political theories of Claude Lefort to define public space in terms of a true democracy. "Unprecedented in democracy," explains Deutsche, "is the fact that the place from which power derives its legitimacy is what Lefort calls the image of an empty place.'" 69 This image, though abstract, is meant to distinguish between the structuring of sovereign power and structuring of democratic power. As Deutsche explains, a sovereign state necessitates a transcendent source of power made manifest in the figure of the monarch, who's meaning and unity is reflected in the unity of society. Democracy, on the other hand, refers power to "the people" and eff ectively eradicates external sources of power or legitimacy. With no external referent in a democracy, the unity that once defined society is dispersed by a deferral of meaning. Deutsche quotes Lefort, "In my view, the important point is that democracy is instituted and sustained by the dissolution of the markers of certainty It inaugurates a history in which people experience a fundamental indeterminacy as to the basis of power, law, and knowledge, and as to the basis of relations between self and other ." 70 Deutsche proposes that public art should engage with this fundamental uncertainty and explore the social construction of meaning and identity. 68 Deutsche, "Agoraphobia," 269. 69 Deutsche, "Agoraphobia," 273. 70 Lefort, as quoted in Deutsche, "Agoraphobia," 273.


32 Relational aesthetics Art is a state of encounter. Nicolas Bourriaud In her article on the state of public art, Patricia Phillips defines public as "that metaphysical site where personal needs and expression meet with collective aspirations and activity. The public is the sphere we share in common; wherever it occurs, it begins in the decidedly somewhere' of individual consciousness and perception." 71 This definition of "public" proposes that a public is not bound by space and is instead bound by a common experience, much in the same way that Lefebvre imagines the production of space to occur through the dialec tic between lived, perceived, and conceived spatial experience. The "sphere we share in common" should not imply that a public space is "shared" in the same way that a pizza is shared, divided up and distributed. Rather it is a relational space, structured much like language. "We are realized as subjects only by entering language, the preexisting social field where meaning is producedLanguage makes us present as subject by dividing us and opening us to an outside." 72 Understanding public space to be struct ured like language implies that meaning is communicable only through the recognition and endurance of difference. Both Lefebvre's and Deutsche's concepts intersect nicely with Nicolas Bourriaud's theory of relational aesthetics that was developed in a book of the same name (published in French in 1998, the English version was made available in 2002). As defined by Bourriaud relational art is "an art taking as its theoretical horizon the realm of human interactions and its social context rather than the asse rtion of an independent and 71 Phillips, "Out of Order," 93. 72 Deutsche, "Agoraphobia," 323.


33 private symbolic space." 73 Although Bourriaud does not intentionally spell out a definition of "public," his theory of relational aesthetics adds another dimension to an understanding of what public can mean and particularly how such a public can be understood through intentional artistic interventions that are exemplified by "public art". The theory of relational aesthetics is part of a larger critique of late capitalism, which stems from a growing disaffection with the commodit ization of the art object and the isolation of the artist. By relocating aesthetic experience in the "interstice" of social relations, Bourriaud intends to free art production from its status as commodity. To accomplish this, Bourriaud highlights art forms that present a "period of time to be lived through" rather than "a space to be walked through." 74 "This system of intensive encounters has ended up producing linked artistic practices: an art form where the substrate is formed by intersubjectivity, and whi ch takes being together as a central theme, the encounter' between beholder and picture, and the collective elaboration of meaning." 75 Modernism is the inevitable voice to which Bourriaud is responding, and he approaches this by considering his theory to take part in a genealogy of form. Deutsche undoes the historical appropriation of public space in a similar manner; by locating her developments as part of a genealogy, she emphasizes the fact that attempting to recover a lost and idealized "public space" only works through a further appropriation of space that supersedes the conflict upon which it is founded. She cites Nietzsche, who conceived of the term genealogy in arguing that "the recovery of origins does not reveal the essential, 73 Nicolas Bourriaud. Relational Aesthetics (Dijon: Les Presses du rŽel, 2002), 14. 74 Bourriaud, Relational Aesthetics 15. 75 Ibid.


34 unchanging meaning of a concept; it shows, on the contrary, that meanings are conditional, formed out of struggles." 76 Similarly, Bourriaud does not bemoan the idea that much postmodern (contemporary) art will face the task of interposing its form upon a reality that is large ly structured by modernist ideology, instead he sees this as a unique opportunity for art "to actually be ways of living and models of action within the existing real." 77 Part of this effort entails appreciating the historical precedence that locates Bourri aud's work in a theory of form rather than an additional theory of art. This derails the construction of a teleology that would presuppose an origin and destination. Form, as understood by Bourriaud, is created discursively, much as publics are created and composed of "independent entit[ies] of inner dependencies." 78 Art creates form by conglomerating moments or entities into a unified experience, much in the same way that a public is created through a unity of subjectivities, in acts of social engagement. Li ke the "form" that Bourriaud refers to, the "essence of publicness is a historically constituted figure that grows and changes, the public is a rhetorical instrument open to diverse, even antagonistic uses that vary with widely differing contexts." 79 New g enre public art In her 1995 book entitled Mapping the Terrain: New Genre Public Art Suzanne Lacy anthologizes the theories of a new breed of public art practice that is characterized by its social engagement. This book was meant to "develop a critical la nguage that would identify and evaluate this work, uniting its political and aesthetic aspirations" by 76 Deutsche, "Agoraphobia," 290. 77 Bourriaud, Relational Aesthetics 13. 78 Bourriaud, Relational Aesthetics 19. 79 Deutsche, "Agoraphobia," 290.


35 compiling a series of critical essays that begin to theorize an approach to relational public artwork. 80 This, new genre public art category was meant to give shape and support to a silently developing field of art that did not fit easily into performance art, public art, or political art, but rather combined the three in a new and urgent way. Suzanne Lacy understood the primary emphasis of this movement to be in "caring public art." By "caring public art" Lacy is referring to public art that takes its social situated ness as its aesthetic and allegorical foundation. This new field often sees itself working against the disconnected language of modern art tha t establishes itself as an autonomous source of meaning in spite of, rather than for, the public it tries to address. As curator John Beardsley said, art in public places must be differentiated from public art. An artwork can become significant to its pu blic through the incorporation of content relevant to the local audience." 81 A crucial part of new genre public art's understanding is that it is what a work does rather than where it is located that allows for it to be "public." In her book, Lacy identifie s an alternative history of public art, one that began apart from the federal sponsorship that took the effort to code a species of art as "public." The artists that Lacy notes as practitioners of new genre public art are artists who approach public practi ce from outside of the accepted public art narrative, which was dominated primarily by permanent sculpture. This lineage is likely inherited from movements such as Dadaism and Fluxus that located an art practice outside of the dominant art market. Fluxus l ike Dadaism before it brought art outside the doors of the museum and exposed it to the chaos of the urban milieu. These movements marked the 80 Suzanne Lacy, Introduction," 12. 81 John Beardsley, "Personal Sensibilities in Public Places," Artforum 19 (Summer 1981): 43, 44.


36 beginnings of a contingency of artists asserting themselves against a cultural bureaucracy that had created a desi gnated space for art's performance and recognition. In "Publics and Counterpublics," Michael Warner proposes an understanding of public that is composed of conscious participants with a common point of reference. As understood by Warner, "publics do not ex ist apart from the discourse that addresses themthey exist by virtue of their address." 82 I think that what is meant by this idea is that, like space, a public is created by an accumulation of recognition, its form and character is highly contingent and mu table. Warner's essay addresses the circulation of texts specifically, and the spatially disparate publics that such readership enlists. However, such a sense of "public" is immediately relevant to a study of public art that is neither bound by place nor i s physically enduring. Artists such as Francis Als and Krzysztof Wodiczko often work in what we could consider the public sphere, but their work generally leaves no physical trace, no sign of presence, thus it is through the circulation of the documentat ion that the work endures as a public performance. "A public is always in excess of its known social basis." 83 The moments of publicness created through this practice exist less as a preexisting group of people or specific audience, and more as a contingent moment shared and distributed, either through stories and fables or through the circulation of documentary materials, and the subsequent appreciation of space and its productive capacity. Additionally, the public condition of Als and Wodiczko's work is at tained by virtue of the issues of identity, both political and personal, that it raises. Such issues are 82 Michael Warner, Publics and Counterpublics (New York: Zone Books, 2002), 54 55. 83 Warner, Publics and Counterpublics 55.


37 inherently public insofar as they destabilize dominant appropriations of space and reestablish personal autonomy in the public sphere. Again, Deutsche provides a powerful interpretation of this new sense of a "public sphere": With public space linked to political decision making and to rights and social legitimacy, arts administrators can less easily ignore the displacement of social groups from urban p ublic spaces while continuing to describe these sites as 'accessible.' In addition, and perhaps preeminently, the public sphere replaces definitions of public art as work that occupies or designs physical spaces and address preexisting audiences with a con ception of public art as a practice that constitutes a public, by engaging people in political discussion or by entering a political struggle. Embedded within such an understanding is the belief that one's subjective experience becomes immediately resonan t and relevant when accumulated into "public" experience as mediated through a common point of reference. One's sense of privacy and personal belief becomes a part of the public that is created. A fundamental complication of defining the term "public" enta ils distinguishing it from a sense of "private." Through Warner's theory, not to mention Bourriaud's, one can access an understanding of public that takes into account the social relevance of personal experience. I think this sense of what it means to be a social persona and the fact that every social person has a private person inside is vital to the sense of community and to any meaningful sense of public' of public service. The way to get to those issues sometimes is organizational and structural, but often it has to do with compassion, with play, with touching the inner self in every individual who recognizes that the next individual has a similar self. And it is that community, whether literal or metaphorical, that is in fact the real public that we a s artists might address. 84 84 Allan Kaprow as quoted in Lacy, "Introduction," 36.


38 As stated by Warner, "a public is understood to be an ongoing space of encounter for discourse" 85 A "space of encounter" does not necessarily reference a concrete space that has been deemed public, like a plaza or park, but is r ather a space created through the interaction of artwork and audience. It is dialogue alone that "grants form a productive status: the status of encounter." 86 The dialogue stimulated and produced by both Francis Als and Krzysztof Wodiczko defines their wo rk as public art. The following excerpt from Relational Aesthetics provides an interesting image for visualizing the precipitation of a public: "In the materialistic philosophical tradition ushered in by Epicurus and Lucretius, atoms fall in parallel form ations into the void, following a slightly diagonal course. If one of these atoms swerves off course, it causes an encounter with the next atom and from encounter to encounter a pile up, and the birth of the world.'" 87 We can even imagine this precipitatio n catalyzed by art or artistic practice, whereby diverse entities are accumulated into a common experience. By redefining "public" as individual experience accumulated into a common experience we find ourselves within an expanded sense of its history and precedence. Such a history would value those works that were wedded to relational form rather federal funding. Although the move that art made from museums to the public sphere was originally a progressive one, it resulted in a discourse that remained cont ained within the art world archipelago. The relative vagueness of the term "new genre public art," calls for an examination of how this philosophy of practice actually functions. This thesis focuses in 85 Warner, Publics and Counterpublics 62. 86 Bourriaud, Relational Aesthetics 22. 87 Bourriaud, Relational Aesthetics 19.


39 on two contemporary artists, Francis Als and Krzyszto f Wodiczko. Unlike Wodiczko, Als has not been embedded within the discourse of public art. I believe that framing their work in a similar context and pointing to comparable tropes reveals new meanings in each of their works. Though both of these artists a re often understood in terms of their political message or social involvement, analyzing them as "new genre public artists" may help to better ascertain the exact nature of this involvement and how it enhances the public quality of the work they do. It is my belief that they each present unique examples of what public practice can look like and feel like. The public art of Francis Als and Krzysztof Wodiczko stimulates the creation of the personal or cultural narratives that have the power to displace empt y ideas of public space and reaffirm the individual as the producer of knowledge and meaning. On the surface, Als and Wodiczko appear to be quite dissimilar. With analysis, however, there emerges an interesting dynamic between their analogous artistic con cerns and the disparate processes each artist pursues in order to communicate and explore these concerns. Namely, they share an interest in asserting the importance of subjectivity within the social and political value system of the public sphere. This is accomplished primarily through the creation, reinterpretation, or projection of a narrative. Als uses his own body in performances that question the authenticity of a reality constructed through hegemonic power systems. Such performances, elaborate on, or produce fables that suspend meaning and open up a space that may reveal the absurdity of certain circumstances. Wodiczko, on the other hand, stages public situations that amplify personal narratives that have been subjugated or suppressed. The narratives provided by


40 the participants in these pieces reveal the complexities of human emotion and experience in a reality that silences them under the threat of further marginalization.


41 Chapter Two: Francis Als Le Temps Du Sommeil Upon entering the gallery in t he Museum of Modern Art in New York City, one becomes immersed in a fragmented world of miniatures. Dozens of paintings, whose unity of color and imagery form a dotted eye level stripe traveling across all four walls of the large room, are the sole objects occupying the space besides a looping 16 mm projection in the room's center. One cannot avoid an encounter with the strange and seemingly cryptic images known collectively as le temps du sommeil (The Time of Sleep) (fig. 12 22). The name references both t he dreamy imagery that permeates the paintings as well as the fact that their creator, Francis Als, generally completes them late at night. This series of paintings by Als is an ongoing project begun in 1996. The paintings are charming and luscious. See n together, they construct a world populated by Magritte like 88 figures who wear grey suits, brown shoes, and black ties and perform ritualistic activities solemnly, sometimes alone, sometimes accompanied by other similar figures, animals, or objects. The ethereal and almost mythical effect cast by this body of work is created in part by the formal properties of the stripe of paintings, which are uniformly 4 5/16" by 5 88 Magritte was known to have supported himself as a commercial artist and illustrator for many years. Likewise, Als has demonstrated a fascination with the aesthetics of commercial art. In one project he collaborated with traditional Mexican sign painters ( rotulistas ), giving them sketches of his own whimsical drawings that they would reproduce on a larger scale and in their own style. Many have attributed the simplicity of his painterly aesthetic to this aesthetic interest as well as his lack of professional training.


42 7/8" (almost postcard size) and grounded in a green ochre that has been worked over with deep Venetian and Indian reds. Each one is marked by a stamp indicating the date that it was created or in some cases recreated. The paintings appear as if plucked from a dream and speak to a body of symbolic knowledge that seems lost within the layers of paint. The world accessible to the viewer is only partial, the paint itself seems to obstruct complete disclosure and every action references a story that is always just out of reach. As I encountered the body of work, I felt as if I had come across an at tempt to reconstruct a collection of fables whose binding had disintegrated, leaving nothing but pieces of a larger message, their repeating symbols enshrouded by the layers of paint. In this way, they seemed to serve as piecemeal illustrations of a larger narrative that is enacted through Als's artistic practice. I begin with this body of work because it serves as a sort of root system for Alys's artistic practice. Understanding the "rhizomatic" structure of his work helps to get at the interconnectednes s of his practice that situates each gesture within a larger economy of meaning. The "rhizome" is an "image of thought" attributable to Deleuze and Guattari 89 and helps illuminate the "multiplicity" 90 that is characteristic of Als's practice. Within Als's oeuvre one act, performance, or particular image stands in and references a series of other images that in turn defer to one another to acquire a deeper structure of meaning. 89 The concept of the rhizome is introduced by Gilles Deleuze and FŽlix Guattar i in A Thousand Plateaus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1987). "Any point of a rhizome can be connected to anything other, and must be" (6). 90 By "multiplicity" I mean to signify a unity that is itself multiple. As Deleuze and Guattari state, "It is only when the multiple is effectively treated as a substantive, multiplicity,' that it ceases to have any relation to the One as subject or object, natural or spiritual reality, image or world"(8).


43 This state of deferral allows Als to propose a form of public practice that is d eeply wedded to a larger constellation of personal and communal mythology. I believe that in these paintings Als constructs a reality that serves as a sort of allegorical analogue to the concept of the public sphere I would like to propose. The paintings illuminate a world in which meaning is always absent from the space of action, the production of meaning is created and necessitated through the exchange between painting and viewer. Each work not only relies for meaning upon the context in which it is dis played, but also on each other work in the series. The numerous wormholes seem to link each painting to another, creating a vast system of roots whose expansiveness cannot be comprehended through an individual painting. A world and reality is alluded to, b ut never completed. Each painting refers to each other painting as well as referring beyond to both the narrative constructed by the viewer and the performative engagements of Als. Added to such a contingency of space and meaning is the utter destabiliza tion of the traditionally hierarchical relations between humans, animals, objects, and space. The figures in the work appear to be just as animate as the objects and animals that they interact with. The space too, folds back upon itself, eating up actions and obscuring full presence. The modernist ideal of a self sufficient and whole subject is shattered by the instability of the relations presented in the space of the paintings. Although each piece seems to depict a perpetually frozen scene, the palimpsist ec layering of paint that is achieved through Als's continual reworking of each surface calls this stability into question. Like many of Als's performances, which traverse


44 through a discursive public, the paintings "are perpetually unfinished, and their interpretations unfold overtime without resolution." 91 In the final pages of "Agoraphobia," the pivotal closing chapter in Rosalind Deutsche's 1996 collection of essays, Eviction: Art and Spatial Politics she elaborates on a theory of public space that s he attributes to Thomas Keenan. 92 According to Deutsche, Keenan draws upon the trailblazing work of Beatriz Colomina to establish the window as an architectural element that demarcates space as public or private. 93 The window questions this dichotomy so well because it is unclear whether or not it deconstructs or supports the separation of public and private spheres. "Do windows, as in traditional perspectival models, ground the subject by allowing its detached gaze to pass through the window and master a wor ld framed as a discrete, external object? Or do windows let light the exterior world in and, interfering with vision, interrupt the subject's control of its surroundings and disturb the security of the interior?" 94 As Keenan suggests, the two spaces are ins eparable, and he uses the image of light coming through the window as a metaphor for the public sphere. He elaborates on this construction by defining a public sphere in terms of language. Like language, the public sphere is contingent rather than self con tained, it is not an exterior space that we enter as private beings, but rather a space that is constructed through our constant interpretive acts. In language, as in space, there are no preexisting meanings. 91 "One Simple Act ion, Documented, Redocumented, and Documented again," Art Tattler International accessed April 15, 2012, 92 Thomas Keenan "Windows: of vulnerability" in The Phantom Public Sphere ed. Bruce Robbins (Minneapol is: University of Minnesota Press, 1993), 121 141. 93 Deutsche, "Agoraphobia," 322. 94 Deutsche, "Agoraphobia," 323.


45 Perhaps, as Keenan and Deutsche propose, the "p eculiarity of the public" is not so much that it is absent, but rather that it is experienced as elsewhere, resistant to being made present. As we enter language our self presence and possession is undermined as representation is displaced onto a system ou tside of ourselves. "The public sphere is structurally elsewhere, neither lost nor in need of recovery or rebuilding but defined by its resistance to being made present." 95 The resistance of the public sphere's full presence of meaning, or even its determin ed and empirical identification is an essential quality of the democratic public sphere. It is a space that "belongs by rights to others, and to no one in particular." 96 In the phantom public sphere, man is deprived of the objectified, distanced, knowable world on whose existence he depends and is presented instead with the unknowability, the proximity of otherness, and, consequently, uncertainty in the self. 97 It is in consideration of this "phantom public sphere," that I would again like to discuss le tem ps du sommeill Like the public sphere that Keenan proposes, the space of le temps du sommeill is "structurally elsewhere," it resists full presence. "Any concept of the window," writes Colomina, "implies a notion of the relationship between inside and out side, between private and public space." 98 The separation imposed by the outer layer of red paint in Les Temps du Sommeil is a visual and spatial element comparable to the one architecturally figured by the window. In this series it becomes entirely unclear whether the viewer is enclosed by the Venetian red and peers out the window onto the world outside, or if the opposite is true and it is the figures illustrated in the paintings that 95 Keenan, "Windows: of Vulnerability," 135. 96 Keenan, "Windows: of Vulnerability," 133. 97 Deutsche, "Agoraphobia," 326 327. 98 Beatriz C olomina, Privacy and Publicity: Modern Architecture as Mass Media (Cambridge: MIT Press, 1994), 134.


46 are enclosed in a private realm awash with green, questioning our positi on or power as viewers. As complete meaning is elusive, the idea of visual detachment or impartial contemplation becomes impossible the paintings emphasize the relational quality of meaning implying that meaning does not exist in things themselves. Althoug h it is unclear, the series le temps du sommeil seems to have begun with a painting that is dated 1995 (in spite of the official 1996 start date "1995" is written in faded white pencil on the painting's lower right corner perhaps another temporal displacem ent). This particular piece (fig. 22) seems far less technically developed than the rest in the series; the olive green that spatially locates the figures is much flatter than the green space in later paintings and the surface is scuffed and dull differing greatly from the luminosity of the later pieces. In it one sees a man in profile, he sports the grey suit that becomes iconic as the series develops. He walks forward on a slanting ground formed by a small swath of cinnabar green, his arm juts out purpose fully from his body, and in his hand, he holds a thin pale yellow stick. The stick does not touch the ground and is notable for the way its top curves back, seemingly connected to the back of the man's head. In an interview with Russel Ferguson, expatriate Als speaks of his acclimation to Mexico City and his new home in the Centro Historico. 99 At one point he mentions the various characters in the city: I saw how they felt the need to make up an identity, to invent a role for themselves, a ritual that woul d justify their presence on the urban chessboard like this guy in his mid forties I would see every morning walking up and down the Z—calo 100 with a metal wire bent into a hook with a circle at the end of itStarting from the top left corner of the plaza 99 The historic center of Mexico City, which centers around the Z—calo (the main plaza). It extends just over nine square km and occupies 668 blocks. It co ntains 9,000 buildings, 1,550 of which have been declared of historical importance. 100 The main plaza in the heart of Mexico City's historic center.


47 h e would follow all the little cracks between the stones of the pavement, methodically pacing the entire plaza. That was the role he had invented for himself. That was his way of being there, of being part of the life of the city. 101 Though the staff in the painting does not match Als's description exactly, it seems to be a similar instrument, used in an equally opaque manner. In this way the paintings demonstrate ways of constructing reality and space. The figures in them seem to perform their actions in an abstract space in which specific rituals take on greater signification and erect new layers of meaning, a constant symbolic thread in Als's work. Understanding Als's background and artistic development will expose important tropes that characterize his practice. Although other critics have explored similar tropes in Als's practice, I believe that such tendencies place his work at the forefront of contemporary public art practice, which I consider an expansion of new genre public art. Inserting stories Als was born in Belgium in 1959 as Francis De Smedt. He first studied to be an architect, attending Institut d'Architecture de Tournai in Belgium. He continued his studies in Venice where he received a masters degree in urban studies at Instututo Univers itario di Architettura di Venezia. For this program he wrote a dissertation on the expulsion of animals from the walled in cities of pre Renaissance urbanity. This initial interest in the effects of bureaucratic control over the urban milieu has marked Al s's career, influencing his distinct approach to the urban sphere and political experience within that scene. Traditional methods of control produce an image of a city 101 "Interview: Russell Ferguson in Conversation with Francis Als," in Francis Als ed. CuauhtŽmoc Medina, Francis Als, Russell Ferguson, and Jean Fisher (London: Phaidon Press, 2007) 8.


48 that runs like clockwork, indifferent to the diverse intersection of subjectivities. Fo r Als, this mode of urban planning, which understands the city to be a reflection of human interests and morality is paradigmatically and problematically utopian. The dissertation was an exploration of city zoning as a form of purification, "That which is different, which fails to conform to the consensus of rationality, or the implicit logic of inwardness, is rejected to construct a false security requiring drastic measures to enforce it." 102 Als came to understand the animals purged from early Renaissance cities as a "living metaphor for the forms of existence suppressed by the process of modernization." 103 Within the field of public art there exists a dialectic between "utopian" and "critical" understandings of the relationship formed between art and its p ublic. 104 Public works that exemplify a utopian approach attempt to "raise up an ideal public sphere, a nonsite, an imaginary landscape" 105 and encode a distinctly utopian understanding of a public's relation to a work. On the other hand, critical public piece s "disrupt the image of a pacified, utopian public sphere, that exposes contradictions and adopts an ironic, subversive relation to the public it addresses, and the public space where it appears." 106 These functions are not mutually exclusive; a utopian visi on can level a critique against the reality that it endeavors to negate, while critical interventions have the potential to create a space of public experience that "approximates inclusiveness and collective 102 Malcolm Miles, Art Space and the City 34. 103 CuauhtŽmoc Medina, "Survey: Fable Power," in Francis Als ed. CuauhtŽmoc Medina, Francis Als, Russell Ferguson, and Jean Fisher (London: Phaidon Press, 2007), 61. 104 W. J. T. Mitchell, "Introduction: Utopia and Critique," in Art and the Public Sphere ed. W. J. T. Mitchell (Chicago: University of Chicago Press: 1990), 3. 105 Ibid. 106 Ibid.


49 emotion." 107 Some of the most powerful public work s resonate through an intersection between critical and utopian understandings and locate a moment that elicits public critique of dominant power structures whilst enabling a collective production of cultural meaning and participation. As an artist, Als understands himself to be pushing against utopian visions of the city, which often suspend and sublate personal experience in order to project an image of political harmony and stable cultural identity. However, much of Als's work functions in this space between utopia and critique where the city is conceived of as a space of infinite invention in which meanings can be rearranged to reconsider the discursive formations of power that structure reality. When I stepped out of the field of architecture, my fi rst impulse was not to add to the city, but to absorb what was already there, to work with the residues, or with the negative spaces, the holes, the spaces in between. Because of the immense amount of material produced on a daily basis by a huge city like Mexico City, it is very difficult to justify the act of adding another piece of matter to that already saturated environment. My reaction was to insert a story into the city rather than an object It was my way of affecting a place at a very precise moment of its history, even if just for an instant. If the story is right, if it hits a nerve, it can propagate like a rumor. Stories can pass through a place without the need to settle. They have a life of their own. If the script meets the expectations and add resses the anxieties of that society at the right time and place, it may become a story that survives the event itself. At that moment, it has the potential to become a fable or an urban myth." Francis Als (emphasis added) 108 This impulse to create narra tives that affect the fabric of a place is a dominant trope in his practice; this trope is part of what allows for the public condition of his work. Because of their largely ephemeral nature, his pieces do not acquire a monumental status, but are 107 Ibid. 108 Als, "Interview: Russell Ferguson in Conversation with Francis Als," 25 26.


50 rather tr ansformed as they travel through various forms of documentation, including the reformation of their reality via word of mouth. Francis Als arrived in Mexico the year after the devastating earthquake of 1985. This event shook Mexico City to its core, crea ting both physical and social upheaval, "symbolically topp[ling] the last illusions of development." 109 Supposedly this trip was part of the two years of governmental service required of Als by the Belgian Army as an alternative to conscription. He was to f ulfill his national service working as an architect for non governmental organizations in the rebuilding process. In September of 1985, eight months after the earthquake, a spontaneous non political revolution occurred for a few weeks as ordinary Mexican citizens took to the streets. The rubble opened up a space for a new kind of development and autonomy, one led by those previously disenfranchised. It seemed to initiate a mode of reconstruction based more on vernacular, "pre modern" understandings of the city, which allowed for a largely extra administrative use of the street scene, exemplified by the tremendous profusion of street vendors and the parallel capitalist economy they inaugurated. In this Mexico City, Als encountered a "sense of illusion of fr eedom" that he had not encountered elsewhere. 110 For Als the city represented the essential failure of modernism, although this thought was not to be articulated until much later in his practice. He was fascinated by what he understood to be an unprecedente d social mobility expressed through an economy of survival. As Als understood it, Mexico City was the perfect example of a process of ad hoc development, which produced a trajectory of 109 Medina, "Survey," 63 110 Francis Als, as quoted in Francis Als ed. Francis Als, Ingvild Goetz, Karsten Lšckemann, and Stephan Urbaschek (MŸnchen: Sammlung Goetz, 2008), 65.


51 urbanism that refused, whether intentionally or not, western models of growth and development. Such western models tend to culminate in a state of "modernity," perfectly preserved as the ultimate expression of urban expansion. A nation can only be "developed" in its comparison to "underdeveloped" nations, thus erecting a se emingly linear sequence wherein each stage of development is succeeded by the next that conceptually erases the previous stage through improvement. This teleological construction of time results in a conception of change ordered by a preconceived set of "t ypes" that construct the main route of societal transformation, ordaining one of these "types" as the formal height of this process. Stephen Jay Gould reminds us of the representations of natural history made dominant through textbooks or museum displays in which evolutionary epochs are characterized by a specific class of organisms. It is easy enough to recall such diagrams in which the "first shows us early bacteria and tiny invertebrate life forms, the second teems with trilobites, crustaceans, and prim itive insects, the third ushers in the age of fishes, quickly followed by the ages' proper to reptiles and amphibians, mammals, and finally, of course, Man.'" 111 In this illustration it is not so much the scientific chronology of development that is proble matic, but rather the fact that such clean and static images obscure the "continuing diversity of forms, and the actual relationships between these forms, in each of the periods." 112 Mammals do not erase the existence of reptiles any more than reptiles take over in the place of fish. By tracing a linear progression marked 111 James Ferguson, Expectations of Modernity (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1999), 42. 112 Ibid.


52 by the dominance of certain "types" one gets the sense that "types" such as bacteria are somehow obsolete, when in fact bacteria continue to be most dominant life form on the planet and play a crucial role in day to day life. This is just one example of this mode of thinking, which does an excellent job of demonstrating its dominance and the insidious manner by which it skews reality. The germ of this thought, as developed by James Ferguson, comes from Stephen Jay Gould. In his 1996 book, The Full House: The Spread of Excellence from Plato to Darwin he presents a new way in which to conceive of change that takes into account the "bushiness" of various "types" that can exist in any given hist orical moment. "In a world made up not of neat Platonic types but messy spreads of variation, changing realities must be conceptualized not as ladders or trees defined by sequences and phases but as dense "bushes" of multitudinous coexisting variations, co ntinually modified in complex and nonlinear ways." 113 What Als saw in Mexico City was exactly this bushy spread of forms, in which each member of society had imagined a roll for themselves (whether consciously or not) and created a place within this reality From the beginning Als has been known for walking. This was for him the perfect way to explore a city, which was still relatively new to him. Walking became a way both to explore as well as a manner by which he could insert himself into the social mil ieu symbolically and physically. With time these walks began to take on a form of documentation centered about what he came to call "street installations" a constellation of chewed gum stuck beneath cafŽ tables (fig. 23), a plastic tent placed over an open sewage drain that was designed to function as a toilet, or a galaxy formed by hundreds of 113 Ibid.


53 bottle caps embedded in the asphalt (fig. 24). These compositions seemed to demonstrate a direct affront to formal systems of development and spoke to an alternativ e form of existence thriving beneath dominant ideological social systems. They represented new ways of conceiving of urban space, and allowed for Als to re imagine casual actions as a form of political protest or art. In what is often considered his first formal artwork, Als situated pillows in the frames of shattered windows in buildings that had been left abandoned as a result of the earthquake. This project Placing Pillows (1990) (fig. 25) has many interesting implications. First, it was Als's first r eal physical intervention into the city and informed in the various ways in which his walks could operate as sculptural exercises. The pillows healed the wound of a city abandoned by its government by drawing attention to the gap that had been left to fest er. Second, it connected the public space with the domestic space in a profound manner both by highlighting a space of circulation (the window) with a space of dreams and privacy (the bed pillow). It located a space for private dreaming within the very pub lic structure of the city, catalyzing a way in which Als could imagine his own narrative insertions within Mexico City that spoke to the daily experience of the political and the poetic. After this first step into art making Als continued to infuse his walks with specific motives or visions. In this way, he began to curate specific ways of inhabiting the city that struck him as quietly revolutionary. In a series of photographs quite aptly titled Sleepers (1999 present) (fig. 26 29) he documents people an d dogs lying on the streets, again a demonstration of the ways in which public space is sheared open for the insertion of dreams. These photographs are taken dead on, framing the dog or individual in the


5 4 center of the composition, highlighting the importan ce of their actions. In Ambulantes (1992 present) (fig. 30 32) Als photographs street peddlers pushing or pulling their abundant wares about the city. In these two series one can see the clear influence of August Sanders, particularly in his collection e ntitled People of the Twentieth Century conceptualized as a collective portrait, recording types more than individuals (fig. 33). Als's composition is simple and documentary, the stylistic constancy reflects a desire for each image to achieve value as an archival document rather as an aesthetic object. When exhibited Als's photographs are generally scrolled through as a series of projections. The Sleepers series is projected right above the ground, forcing the viewer to stoop or crouch to see the photogr aphs dead on, much as Als had to crouch in order to portray the subjects in the center of the frame (fig. 34). The large scale work that illustrates my belief that Als is a new genre public artist occurred later in his career but reflects just one blade of grass amid an entire field of interconnected growths. This is one reason I began this discussion with Als's paintings. In these works one has access to an entire universe of oneiric documentation. In the paintings the figures take on the same signific ance as the objects they interact with, contructing a bizarre and somewhat sensual interplay between subjects and objects, collapsing the distinction between these two spheres. The inexplicable weight and solemnity that enshrouds the mysterious actions of his figures reflects the litany of political expectations provoked by social behavior. To fit Als within my earlier exploration of public art, one must come to see the unique way in which Als goes about addressing a public through a specific poetic


55 prac tice, which answers (and in some cases expands) the questions: how does public art that is essentially transient and fleeting have the singular ability to reflect the values of a specific public? Whose values are represented in this practice? How does Als 's use of narratives (as encoded through fables and allegory) implicate subjective experience in larger political and social narratives that construct a collective cultural identity? How can this particular form of public practice probe the ways in which p ower is produced? In this discussion it is not the practical success of these interventions as much as their poetic implications and the value that they might have in the continuation of a socially conscious public art practice. Tropes: Urban consciousne ss In order to focus on one specific performance by Als it is necessary to identify some key tropes that constitute the various layers of meaning embedded within his work. First there is a deep level of urban consciousness that pervades Als practice and allows for it to speak to the production of space. Through his work Als participates in the creation of a city, which considering his formal training as an architect, can be considered a reinterpretation of architectural practice: "My work is a succession of notes and guides. The invention of a language goes together with the invention of a city. Each of my interventions is another fragment of the story that I am inventing, of the city that I am mapping. In my city everything is temporary." 114 Although it co uld be suggested that such a use of urban space is "anti architecture" in the way it subverts permanence I believe that it has more complex implications. Instead of denying the manner by which 114 Francis Als, as quoted in CuauhtŽmoc Medina, "Survey: Fable Power," 78.


56 urban life is sculpted by architectural reality, Als is propos ing new ways of affecting this landscape. Though his work is explicitly transient, it suggests that urban experience is composed of more than just the built structures that have come to characterize a city. Fables as social narratives Inextricably tied to the invention of a language and with it a city is the use of fables within Als's work. His interest in fables serves as a means by which he can encode his practice within a larger constellation of cultural meaning. Many works are initially inspired by a fable or a phrase that gives direction to his modes of intervention. For example, the work entitled Song for Lupita (Ma–ana) is a 12 second animated loop depicting a woman pouring water from one glass into another and then back again continuously (fig. 35) This work was Als's first animated movie and is meant be a visual and symbolic representation of the Mexican saying "el hacerlo sin hacerlo, el no hacerlo pero haciendolo," literally "the doing without doing (or to do so without doing), the not doing bu t doing." 115 The simple line drawing animation is accompanied by a sort of incantation played from a 45 rpm vinyl entitled Ma–ana' (Tomorrow'). The lyrics, "ma–ana, ma–ana is soon enough for me" speak to the deferral of progress or production and highlight s this action that produces nothing more than the presence of itself. An interesting effect embedded within the formal presentation of this piece is the way in which it contradicts its own permanence transcribed through repetition. One becomes entranced b y the meditation on obstinacy and circularity fearing that the image could disappear at any given second, the film could catch fire or disintegrate. Again, the fragility of this piece speaks to the delicate oneiric world in which Als's works operate 115 Francis Als, "Interview: Russell Ferguson in Conversatio n with Francis Als," 15.


57 most powerfully. Both mediums utilized, the vinyl record and the 16 mm film, are entirely outdated formats and thereby contribute an additional rejection of contemporaneity. The piece, which began as an enunciation of a common Mexican saying, takes this phrase beyond its verbal form, and poses a full revolt against the tide of modernization. Fables also serve as a way to transfer Als's work to a wider audience. Early on in his practice he picked up the habit of making postcards as a form of documentation. The postcards would generally consist of a photo taken from the performance along with a phrase describing the core idea at work. The blurbs of text are usually instructional and documentation based. For example: "When arriving in (new city), insert a new wo rd in the city's jargon." 116 This phrase is both testament to work that Als has (presumably) done and a score generating new forms of performance and new protagonists. This is a particularly compelling instance of relinquishing control and authorship, allow ing for the transference of this narrative onto a larger audience. The images and text retain the poetic character of the project, which, in its obscurity, remains open to new interpretations and uses. In a way, these images seem to open a space of experim entation within the everyday lived experience of the city. Discursive and embodied movement Outside of the movement of bodies, and particularly Als's body, the movement of narratives and their transformation into or out of fables is part of what characte rizes Als work as a unique form of public practice. The communication involved in this circulation allows for an additional level of sociality to arise, thus the work concentrates 116 Francis Als, Le Temps Du Sommeil (Milano: Charta, 2010), unnumbered pages.


58 not only on a community of "audience members" or participants, but also gen erates a community of listeners and storytellers. The most obvious use of "word of mouth" was in a 1999 piece entitled The Rumour With the help of three "local associates," Als circulated story of a person who had left the hotel for a walk the night bef ore and had not come back'. 117 The story spread by Als proved to be just the skeleton of the rumor that developed. With time and circulation the mystery person in the story acquired a basic physical appearance, a sex, an age, and a more coherent story expla ining the disappearance. Three days after Als released the rumor into the community, the local police had released a sketch of the "missing person." The work provides a cue for the collective creation of an anecdote. The work began with a small fiction, that when fed to a community became a widely believed truth. Although the creation was relatively minor, it had the power of elaborating on the way in which realities can be constructed through the intermeshing of truth and fiction. As explored by Als, on e way in which a community produces social cohesion is through the uptake and creation of collectively endorsed myths. In the catalog of Als's recent retrospective A Story of Deception (2010), Mark Godfrey identifies two distinct impulses that structure Als's artistic practice: "distillation and proliferation." 118 The highlighting of these two drives underscores another important trope that gives dimension and meaning to Als's practice: movement. Much of Als's work unfolds through space and time, renderi ng its poetic impulse 117 Francis Als and CuauhtŽmoc Medina, "Entries," in Francis Als: A Story of Deception ed. Mark Godfrey, Klaus Biesenback, and Kerryn Greenberg (New York: The Museum of Modern Art, 2010), 89. 118 Mark Godfrey, "Politics/Poetics: The Work of Francis Als," in Francis Als: A Story of Deception ed. Mark Godfrey, Klaus Biesenback, and Kerryn Greenberg (New York: The Museum of Modern Art, 2010), 10.


59 through this expanded framework. Many of Als's early pieces were documented only through a specially made postcard. They usually spring however, from a highly crystallized image or anecdote. Whether these concentrated fragments are produced as a result of a performance or serve as the inspiration for them, the distillations do the work of conceptualizing the entirety of a given project. As was said by Saul Anton, the "peculiar strength" of Als's work is that it "never tells any stor y in particular but rather crystallizes an image that demands storytelling as an active interpretive process." 119 Movement is further expressed through the emphasis placed on process over a discrete product. The documentation of a specific piece or sculptur al exercise, either managed through video recordings, postcards, or textual accounts, reflects just one dimension of the work's existence and modes of signification. This tendency, to account for the proliferation of ideas and connections that supports any one piece, was physically evident in his recent retrospective, "A Story of Deception." Countless artifacts, displayed in tandem with a video documenting the performance, attested to the many lives of the work and its many incarnations. This suggests that each work is more than just the performance or object. Rather it is the entire process, the development of the work, from a story, song, or quote, and the resultant dissemination, granting the work new life as it travels produced new meanings and new socia l realities. The actual physicality of his pieces is an additional layer of movement that resituates an embodied experience of the socio political realm. Through Lefebvre's understanding of the production of space' one can conceive of the ways in which th e 119 Sau l Anton in Francis Als, "A Thousand Words: Francis Als talks about When Faith Moves Mountains," Artforum 40, no. 10 (2002), 146, accessed November 13, 2012,


60 materiality of space involves an enmeshing of both its physical aspect (the thingness' of materiality) and imaginary aspect (the cultural, historical, and social meaning embedded within experience of a space, for example, the meanings and memories that one associates with certain objects and spaces). The materiality of space and its sociality are enmeshed through the embodied experience of an individual. Space is experienced as a reciprocal enfolding of this relationship: "space is produced by social rel ations that it also reproduces, mediates and transforms." 120 The movement that typifies Als's work involves both the movement of bodies, which in moving construct a space, and the movement of narratives that similarly construct both an imaginary and physica l space of relations. As Miles discusses in Art, Space, and the City Ernesto Laclau proposed that space (as understood with a Cartesian framework of space as given) is stasis while time is a process of dislocation, opening up new routes for political cha nge. 121 The emphasis in this construction should not be placed so much on the distinction between "spatial" and "temporal" but rather on the distinction made between the seamlessness ascribed to space and the disruptive powers ascribed to time. Although as I have explored, through a reinterpretation of spatial experience, one can access a space' that is in a continual state of production and thus subject to disruption, Laclau's ideas regarding time add another dimension to Lefebvre's theory and its place wit hin a public art framework. For Laclau, time's dislocation enables one to break away from a futile repetition of past patterns, much as an understanding of space's active production can generate new ways of 120 Wolfgang Natter and John Paul Jones III Identity, Space, and other Uncertainties" in Space and Social Theory: Interpreting Modernity and Postmodernityc ed. Georges Benko and Ulf Strohmayer. (Malden: Blackwell, 1977). 121 Miles, Art, Space, and The City 46.


61 understanding spatial and relational experience. Als's "work reminds us that reality does not exist of fixed substances but is rather momentarily inscribed and perceived. Each moment is constructed." 122 In a stop motion piece entitled Time is a Trick of the Mind Als's iconic grey suited man walks ahead of the viewer. The man carries a stick in his left hand and as he walks alongside a large wrought iron fence, he applies the stick to the poles eliciting a rapid tapping noise whose volume and tone can be augmented by the pressure, proximity, or speed of t he walker. We have all been this person, idly, even thoughtlessly, playing in the city as we stroll. It is an action akin to balancing on a curb or kicking a pinecone down the sidewalk. The piece, when displayed, is shown in a loop on two projectors. The two projectors are exactly the same, but as they play one will inevitably lag behind the other, creating a gap between the two videos and attesting to a momentary lapse in time that cannot be accounted for. Obviously there are explanations for this drift, but the power of the work is the gap that it reveals in the dominant conceptions of space and time. As Lefebvre notes "every society and hence every mode of production... produces a space, its own space." 123 The various modalities of Als's artistic pract ice, and the production that it entails, can be analyzed further through a layering within Lefebvre's dialectic of spatial production. Again we can reflect on the three points of Lefebvre's proposed spatial dialectic and transfer its form to Als's practic e in order to approach his somewhat elusive system of space. Walks, which are the foundation of and 122 Andreas Bees, "Walks," in Time is a Trick of the Mind (Frankfurt: Revolver, 2004), 21. 123 Lefebvre, The Production of Space 31.


62 inspiration for much is work, can be understood as a distinct form of "spatial practice." The walks that characterize much of his work fabricate a distinct rhythm and time. In these walks, Als is effectively sculpting a distinct social space. The maps, diagrams and paintings that conceptualize his work can be understood as "representations of space" those symbolic representations that serve to maintain the a bstract significations of the social relations Als explores. Finally, the collaborative and socially embedded works that he proposes function within "representational space," the space where ideals or social movements are produced. As Lefebvre notes, "Re presentational space is alive: it speaks. It has an affective kernel or centre: Ego, bed bedroom, dwelling house; or: square, church, graveyard. It embraces the loci of passion, of action and of lived situations, and thus immediately implies time. Conseque ntly it may be qualified in various ways: it may be directional, situational or relational, because it is essentially qualitative, fluid and dynamic." 124 This three part form of production characterizes the creative quality of Als's practice, particularly i ts ability to sculpt new social narratives or allegories that fundamentally affect and weave the fabric of space. In the following piece, The Green Line, Als's combines the these tropes [urban consciousness, narratives or fables, and movement and embodie d social experience (through distillation and proliferation)], to shed light upon entrenched political situations. These tropes are founded in Als's desire and ability to propose new understandings of spatial, and thus social existence. His work often ide ntifies those elements of life that have been expelled from common sense understandings of the city. This is performed 124 Lefebvre, The Production of Space 42.


63 through a subversion of dominant ideologies and a reintroduction of marginalized spaces and bodies. The work that I analyze involves a la yer of deviance. By literally filling in and using as a medium the "negative space" in a city Als admits autonomy and reinvigorates the power of illusion that had been expelled from the controlled space of political dominance that values rationality and p rogress. The Green Line (Sometimes doing something poetic can become political and sometimes doing something political can become poetic) 2004 2005. In 1948, after 6 months of heavy fighting in Jerusalem, a violent event now known as the Arab Israeli War a ceasefire line was drawn on a map indicating the division between Arab and Israeli territories. The line, literally drawn with a green grease pencil on a map of the Middle East, is known as the green line. It is not an internationally recognized border and was meant to serve only as a temporary border. The "Arab Israeli War," also called "The War of Independence" by Israelis, is a term that seems to contain a much more vast dispute, one that has been raging since the arrival of Zionists in what is now considered Israel. Like the temporal and spatial breadth of the conflict, the line itself seems a facile instrument that does little to represent the social reality of the situation. Though the territories on the east side of the line have since been anne xed by Israel, the symbolic weight of the demarcation is still potent. One side of the line is understood as East Jerusalem (Palestinian) and one is understood to be West Jerusalem (Israeli). The Israeli occupiers have chosen where, when, and how this bord er should be enforced. In some places there are checkpoints and some areas are referred to as "no man's land."


64 Political and social borders are subjects that Als continually returns to in his work. Throughout his practice he stresses their seeming absurd ity by drawing attention to the experiential gap between the lines drawn on a map and the physical reality and subjective experience of these inscriptions as they are lived. In a work entitled The Loop (1997) he circumvented the border between the United S tates and Mexico by taking a series of flights that transported him from Tijuana to San Diego. This border, the subject of endless debate and political drama in the U.S., is a border clearly ingrained in the American imaginary. Als traces a line around th e globe through air travel that subtly points to the unaccounted for gap that the width of the line dividing Tijuana from San Diego erects. The Green Line (fig. 36) represents Als's most overtly political effort. In this work he walked the portion of the green line that runs through Jerusalem. In the video that documents The Green Line Als walks steadily and silently, casually holding a small can of green paint. The can is punctured so that, as Als walks, a dribble of paint is deposited at his side form ing a long line, like a glistening snail trail, across the landscape. One of the strongest reactions that I had to this piece, when I watched the video documentation of it, was the seeming sneakiness with which it is performed. Als does not specify whethe r his unassuming behavior was part of an effort to avoid official confrontation or if it is unconscious. Israeli soldiers totally ignore him as he slinks past border checkpoints while cars are motioned to stop by groups of gun toting guards. The people tha t do notice him and his curious activity appear somewhat dumbfounded; they do not know what to make of this fellow. His foreignness is fairly apparent, though Jerusalem is, in many ways, an international city. He could be a journalist or tourist, but


65 the d irection of his attention clearly indicates that he is not there to sightsee. One Palestinian boy looks a bit miffed, perhaps reacting for the camera, though he seems more agitated at the fact that no one else around him seems to notice or care that this m an is doing something significant, that he is leaking green paint onto the ground. Part of the piece involved presenting the video to various Israelis and Palestinians and recording their responses. Some of the discussions (or monologues in some instances ), are transcribed in the catalog of the work, and some act as oral commentary accompanying the short video documentation. One participant, Rima Hamami, an Anthropologist at Birzeit University, also took note of the "sneakiness" of Als's performance. He c omments, "Your pose here is exactly like a Palestinian. Palestinians, especially men, or young men, to do anything under this regime have to walk the way you are walkingWhen you cross over there [West Jerusalem], you always feel like a sneak even me t here is always this way in which you can't just be relaxed and natural walking through a city. You are alwaysbecause as a Palestinian here now, you are always a criminalyou are somehow illegal somehow you're undercover." 125 The tension between one's self hood and the dominant image of oneself that is, in this case, produced by racist ideology, is another slippage of meaning that the piece explores. Als smuggles poetic absurdity into the heart of political and social tension. The normalcy of his stance and posture are betrayed by the leaking of the can, just as a Palestinian man is betrayed by his outward appearance and the political significance of such an appearance in a world turned violently racist. Hamami goes on to say, "For young guys, young 125 "Interviews," in Sometimes Doing Something Poetic Can Become Political and Sometimes Doing Something Political Ca n Become Poetic ed. Francis Als, Julien Devaux, Philippe Bellaiche, and Rachel Leah Jones. (New York: David Zwirner, 2007), pages are unnumbered.


66 Palestin ian men walking around Jerusalem, it's a complete nightmare. They have to be buried so very deep in themselves to walk across that line, to go west. They have to pull their whole being deep down into themselves, just in order to be able to walk across that line where they are going to get stopped." 126 The Green Line quotes a number of Als's earlier works, such as Fairy Tales (1995) and The Leak (1995). In Fairy Tale ( fig. 37), Als walked through the streets of Mexico City while unraveling his sweater, so as to leave behind a trail of yarn. The unraveling of the sweater somewhat echoes the unraveling of a story, and the act itself is pulled from a number of well known tales like that of Adriadne who gives her thread to Theseus to help him find his way out of the Minotaur's Labryinth, or the children's story of Hansel and Gretel who mark their journey with pebbles so as to retrace their steps, or even the myth of Penelope in Ithaca, who undoes every night the shroud that she weaves each day. The walk was repeat ed in Stockholm, and at the end of his journey Als retraced his steps, following the path created by the blue yarn. Eventually he came across an elderly woman collecting the yarn rolling it into a ball to use again. 127 In this manner the yarn itself elicits the performance of the accidental audience members. It is a reminder that the space of relations within a city is constantly open for transformation, for the insertion of our own performance. In The Leak (fig, 38), Als walked out the doors of a gallery in S‹o Paolo carrying a leaking can of paint. He walked until there was no more paint left in the can and then followed his trail back to the gallery where he hung the empty can on the wall. 128 The 126 Ibid. 127 Als. "Interview: Russell Ferguson in conversation with Francis Als," 29. 128 Als and Medina, "E ntries," 66.


67 work extends the space of art beyond the framework of the ga llery. It transforms the vitality of Jackson Pollock's action painting' into a vitality composed of the urban milieu and performed through the banality of walking. In some ways, the line itself is the best documentation of the event, it allows for a ritua listic reincarnation of the work by the audience, who can walk the line themselves and inhabit the space of the work and its creation. Such pieces are also part of a larger motif, which explores the poetic gesture created through movement and the value of art as an event rather than an object. Works such as The Green Line reinterpret the relationship between space and time, revealing that they are not two separable states forming a hierarchy of potentiality, but are rather codependent and one does not have value or meaning without the other. It is easy to question the effectiveness of such acts, particularly if they have the potential to actually change the construction of a social fabric or narrative. Can the accidental audience that is created be conside red a real "public"? Is the work and its ramifications only comprehensible when couched in a well designed art catalog and cushioned by a bed of theoretical fodder justifying its existence? I do not believe these questions to have much value or lead to muc h insight although they seem to be the concern of many, particularly in an analysis of Als's work that frames it as public art. I believe that such issues boil down to the relative audience size that such pieces create or allow. It does not seem to be the case that a work must reach a wide audience to truly be a public piece. A public is not validated through size but rather through interest and relevance, as well as the issues raised by the work. The piece, by reconstructing a line that is a symbolic and emotional barrier brings to light an issue that is buried deep within


68 the Israeli and Palestinian imaginary. It foregrounds the subjective experience of this division by introducing it to the city as it is lived in. The catalog for this work functions as a vehicle for the personal reflections of those whose lives and realities were touched by the piece, thereby foregrounding embedded experience as a site of meaningful spatial knowledge. Conclusion In The Green Line the actual leakage of the paint from the can parallels the leakage of spatial experience that the border presumably separates and contains. In the dominant understanding of space as fixed, the placement of borders that contain geographical areas is done with relative ease and assurance, indiffere nt to the complex social relations that such borders contain, or the politics that go into such a gesture. The "asymmetrical relationship between time and space assumes history as the independent variable, the actor, and geography as the dependent the gr ound on which events take place', the field within which history unfolds." 129 In Als's work, he exposes that the creation of a historical narrative is dependent upon the reciprocity of the people who construct it. In this manner, he destabilizes the dichot omy so often figured between private and public realms, proposing that public space is created and recreated. 129 Neil Smith, "Homeless/global: scaling places," in Mapping the Futures: Local cultures, global change ed. Jon Bird, et al. (London: Routeledge, 1993), 98.


69 Chapter Four: Krzysztof Wodiczko Unlike Francis Als, Krzysztof Wodiczko is quite conscious of his role as a public artist. Almost all of the ava ilable scholarship regarding Wodiczko's work is grounding in this understanding. He is a popular figure within public art discourse, which is a double edged sword. It is difficult to approach him from a new angle and it can be quite easy to accept the prop osals of other critics without really considering the implications of their analysis. I believe that one of the strengths of the following discussion is the way in which it balances my analysis of Als's practice, expanding the dimensions of a public art t hat addresses political and personal spatial creations. From the very beginning of Wodiczko's artistic development, which occurred in the post Stalin Polish autocracy of Edward Gierek, he understood that his responsibility as an artist was to question mode s of representation and power as they function in and construct the public sphere. Considering the political regime under which he acquired artistic fluency, it seems appropriate that he was dubious about the dominant definition of the public realm as a pr escribed space purportedly characterized by free action, thought, and speech. He was particularly concerned with subtly revealing invisible mechanisms of cultural control that assume the voice of "public good." The public space constructed by such mechanis ms is one that depends upon appropriation wherein a very specific public is represented, while voices of dissent are erased and silenced as an aberration. Throughout his career his work has taken a number of forms and undergone major transformations in ter ms of execution while maintaining an underlying conceptual focus.


70 Early in his career, in Poland, he created "critical vehicles." Many of these early vehicles utilized an interpretive structure that is reminiscent of Als's work. He creates a critique of o ppressive and irrational political practices by producing a vehicle, whose functionality both relies upon and parodies the political activities under scrutiny. For example, one piece is a podium on wheels that is propelled by the voice of the orator (fig. 39). In all of these vehicles the movement is constricted to one direction forward, refusing the conflation of movement with freedom. As with Als's work, these vehicles draw attention to the bizarre and questionable motives that guide certain political de velopments by employing the same basic ideological means used by political power only to achieve absurd and banal ends. In recent years, he has made it a point to mobilize or empower marginalized individuals so that their actions and public appearances su btly disrupt systems of power that are taken for granted on a daily basis. Part of these projects involve the exposure or amplification of personal and public truths that are silenced by dominant constructions of history and culture. I will explore these l ater projections that reflect a more sophisticated and nuanced concern with modes and meanings of representation both personal and public. The pieces I have chosen reflect an urgency that seems crucial in the pursuit of this mode of public practice. Though there is a strong drive for exploration there is far less resolution in these works. Overall they illuminate an inclination towards more open systems, questioning problematic structures rather than replacing them. In these later projections that involve testimony, Wodiczko has made collaboration and participation a fundamental part of the process. Francis Als's work oftentimes involves group participation; however, the dynamic of the work is such that


71 the individual experiences of the people involved and their identities are suppressed in the service of the guiding axiom of the work. Als's performances are generally designed to catalyze a dissemination of narratives or rumors, but these narratives and the reworking that occurs as they are communicated an d distributed only reveal personal histories in the way each participant or informant manipulates a set of given experiences. Als's constructed situations are designed to reflect upon communal cultural experience and formation, but are not particularly co ncerned with the amplification of personal testimonies. In this manner, Als's work is able to comment upon the way that meaning is constructed in and through language and how these meanings reflect upon our construction of reality. Wodiczko takes almost t he opposite approach. Als begins each work with a fable (the seed) that germinates through the transformation and realization of the story. Wodiczko, on the other hand, gathers stories and testimonies, allowing for personal narratives to transform the exp erience of a place or historical event. Like Als's work, the situations Wodiczko creates have fairly clear motives, but because the narratives are often personal and solicited without prior screening, the results and effects of any given piece are an unde termined quantity. He often goes so far as to refer to the participants as "co artists." In many of these pieces there is a beautiful and potent intersection that materializes between the physical site's perceived permanence and the ephemeral testimonies r eflected upon the site's surface. Through this process the private spaces of inner reflection and memory are made public. The importance of subjective experience is highlighted through and in these works, where the testimony or personal narrative of one


72 ef fects and transforms the space of many. This has the effect of revealing the dynamic interaction of two conceptions of public, one that is internal, and one that is external. The participants in these projects are granted the opportunity to choose how they want and need to be publicly represented, rather than having their identity subsumed within a predetermined and unchanging cultural symbol or icon. Facilitating parrhesia Michel Foucault's 1983 lectures at the University of California at Berkeley on the G reek practice of parrhesia or "frankness in speaking the truth," have had a profound influence on Wodiczko's practice. Parrhesia is generally translated as "free speech," but it is a word and practice that is far more complicated than the simplification t hat this translation suggests. Parrhesia as it was practiced in Ancient Greece was a kind of social speech in which the speaker, the parrhesiastes "opens his heart and mind completely to other people through his discourse." 130 The parrhesiastes was often und erstood to be incurring some risk through their speech activity; they were revealing uncomfortable truths not often spoken. A person in a position of political or social power could not engage in parrhesia for this reason, because he had nothing to lose by speaking his mind or expressing dissatisfaction. The truth that was revealed in parrhesia had a critical function and was aimed at instigating social changes. "Truth" is, of course, a difficult term to use. Foucault emphasizes that the parrhesiastes say s what is true because he knows that it is true; and he knows that it is true because it is really true." 131 Wodiczko, when discussing parrhesia often refers to it 130 Michel Foucault, Fearless Speech (Los Angeles: Semiotext(e), 2001), 12. 131 Foucaul t, Fearless Speech 14.


73 as "fearless speech," for it is just that, speech that is dangerous but done because it must be done. There are, however, limited conditions under which parrhesia is possible. In Ancient Greece at least, parrhesia was a state of social speech that was not universally accessible. Women, outsiders, and slaves were among those people prohibited from parrhesia It goes without saying that today's social hierarchies are considerably more flexible. However, they have not been so flexed as to completely exorcise entrenched social inequality that is continually reproduced through cultural and political pr actices that go unexamined. The fact that women and immigrants are so often marginalized by mainstream cultures should indicate that parrhesia is not as easily practiced and produced by these groups. The perilous social state experienced by women and immig rants (just to name two marginalized groups) is always already marked by compulsory silence and inaction, ironically suggesting that these individuals could benefit most from parrhesia I believe that the aesthetic mediation that Wodiczko provides in his projects allows individuals that would typically be denied the rights of parrhesia or at least the fearlessness that it entails, to become parrhesiastes The methods of mediation that are present in the three projects that I analyze take three different f orms: projection onto a monument or architectural faade of a testimony that was previously recorded, implementation of a symbolic and ritualistic instrument in order to speak to an incidental audience, or a combination of instrument and projection so that the projection occurs in real time.


74 The fragmented body Images of the human body have become a motif in Wodiczko's large scale public projections. This motif has the effect of hominizing architectural structures, which has been Wodiczko's longstanding imp ulse. It is notable that the projections are often fragments or manipulations of the human body. 132 There is very little scholarship on Wodiczko that addresses the specific way in which the human body is represented, and particularly how it is fragmented. Al though this essay was not meant to address specifically the aesthetic choice of a fragmented body in Wodiczko's projections, I have found Mark Rakatansky's brief text, "Krzysztof Wodiczko: Disfiguring Refiguring," extremely helpful in conceptualizing the r elation between the body and memory in Wodiczko's work. 133 I believe that Wodiczko's emphasis on the fragmented body mirror the greater fragmentations of memory. In this short piece Rakatansky relates Wodiczko's ongoing conversation between the body and arch itecture to Brecht's concept of the "gest." The "realm of the gest", as defined by Brecht and extrapolated by Rakatansky, exists in and through the physical, social, and psychological relations between people (or in Brecht's use of it "characters"). These attitudes, expressed through gestures, both social and aesthetic, pertain to both public and private feelings. Like metaphors or other figures of speech that gradually become clichŽs, social gestures are flattened into conventions with repetition. As is th e 132 There is only one instance of a whole body projection, in the 2005 piece displayed at the Zacheta National Gallery of Art in Warsaw as part of Monument Therapy a monographic exhibition of Wodiczko's work. The images of standing women were projected onto the large columns of the neoclassical building, a hand held as if to support the entire entablature. 133 Mark Rakatansky, "Krzysztof Wodiczko: Disfiguring Refiguring," postscript to "Alien Staff," Assemblage no. 23 (1994): 19.


75 case with clichŽs, such conventions are often interpreted as nuggets of acknowledged meaning, rendering them banal. This process has the pernicious effect of masking the complex tangle of emotions, ideas, beliefs, understandings, etc. that are behind any one self presentation. Rakatansky provides a quote from John Willet, which explains quite lucidly the value and form of the gest. He says that a gest is "at once gesture and gist, attitude and point: one aspect of the relation between two people, studied singly, cut to essentials and physically or verbally expressed." 134 By bringing out the "gist" in gest Willet conveys the sense that it is almost a communicative distillation of an entire complex social structure. I think that it is safe to say that the mea ning present in architecture and monuments is conveyed and received as a sort of social gesture writ large. The complex power structures that produce the architectural faade as a site of aesthetic pleasure and national identity are made silent by the perc eived fixity of the building's presence. Similarly, and perhaps more insidiously in its greater claim to cultural representation, the monument often serves as a visual summation of a historical event that is considered closed. The monument becomes a sort o f historical bookend, or sarcophagus that uses the illusion of unity to mask the real complexities of any given historical phenomenon. "The transformation of memories into national memory replaces experience within a myth of national identity." 135 This pseud o replication and representation has the actual effect of displacing memory rather than embodying it. As Rakatanksy goes on to explain, the gestic cannot be said to occupy a specific place, locus, or even the space between two places. Rather it is a proce ss or movement 134 As quoted in Rakatansky, "Krzysztof Wodiczko," 19. 135 Malcolm Miles, Art, Space, and The City, 67.


76 whose meaning is created through the revelation of veiled meanings and elucidated by a continual movement between two (or more) forms -in Rakatansky's example, the figurative and the abstract. "A gestic approach problematizes both the figura l and the spatial, finding the social and psychological relations of bodies and architecture without residing in either of the two impossible extremes of a pure interiority' (subjective figuration) or a pure exteriority' (abstract spatiality)." 136 Throug h the violent interruption of the monument's enduring presence with figural fragmentations, Wodiczko exposes the fallibility of a unified subject or truth, commenting on the impossibility of such socially constructed notions. The suspension of the "state s ponsored monument's traditional function as a self aggrandizing locus for national memory," 137 allows for a powerful process of momentary appropriation that illuminates the complexity of personal experience and memory. The public projections have the effect of instilling the historical or cultural site with contemporary value. As has been discussed, monuments tend to lose their contemporary vitality as time passes. Though these monuments are meant to serve as memorials to a shared national experience, the me ssages and histories they once encoded and symbolized are often forgotten and their original messages become diminished beneath the weight of historical change. "Time mocks the rigidity of monuments, the presumptuous claim that in its materiality, a monume nt can be regarded as eternally true, a fixed star in the constellation of collective memory." 138 In Wodiczko's work memories 136 Rakatansky, "Krzysztof Wodiczko," 19. 137 James E. Young, "The German Counter Monument: Memory against itself in Germany Today," in Art in the Public Sphere ed. W. J. T. Mitchell (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1990), 52. 138 Young, "The German Counter Monument," 76.


77 are realized in and through their fragmentation as the personal language of recollection becomes public (and fearless) speech. Memor ies are processes to be worked through rather than objects to be contemplated and forgotten. In this manner, Wodiczko exposes the instability and mutability of both space and identity. Using the entire figure of any given participant would suggest the full presence of meaning and identity, which is exactly the cultural assumption that Wodiczko would like to undermine. Through the body's fragmentation and projection one comes to understand the movement of identity (architectural, monumental, and human) as it is performed both publicly and privately. "This is a disfiguring, a disfiguring to show the disfiguration of historical time already at work, a disfiguring to allow for a refiguring." 139 The movement and metamorphosis made necessary in this gestic process i s similar to the movement of memory. Tijuana Projection In 2001 Krzysztof Wodiczko was commissioned to create a work for the Centro Cultural Tijuana (CECUT) in Mexico. The project was part of InSITE2000, a binational contemporary art project encouraging the artistic intervention and activation of urban spaces in Mexico and the United States. The work was a large scale projection designed to give voice to the large community of women in Tijuana who are employed in the maquiladoras the Mexican name for man ufacturing operations in free trade zones. The 1965 Border Industrialization Program (BIP) aligned the interests of the Mexican government with the interests of U.S. manufacturers, allowing for the former to take advantage of the border economy to fight gr owing unemployment rates, and the 139 Rakatanksy, "Krzysztof Wodiczko," 23.


78 latter to exploit the abundant and relatively inexpensive labor force to speed the production of textiles, machinery, and electronics. 140 This original political and economic move has undergone numerous reforms throughout t he years resulting in what is now known as the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). As a result of this agreement all of Mexico has been opened to free trade with the U.S. and Canada. The influx of external economic interest encouraged by NAFTA ca talyzed the spread of maquiladoras In maquiladoras the raw materials are imported into the country of manufacture on a tariff free and duty free basis and the finished products are generally exported and sold in the country that originally imported the ra w materials. Maquiladoras provide a way to lower costs for American consumers, while largely obfuscating the sources or means of production, or the human labor involved. Although the demographic statistics no longer attest to a majority of female workers in the maquiladoras, this trend was certainly characteristic of the earlier period of maquiladora expansion. "Employers preferred young women workers who were believed to be docile and dexterous, traits demanded by tedious assembly processes." 141 Women are a lso favored as workers in maquiladoras because it is culturally acceptable to pay women less. Employers often understand these women workers to be a surplus labor force supported by men's wages, thereby justifying significantly lower wages for work that is often unprotected. There has been a consistent deterioration of maquiladora wages in times of economic boom as well as bust. Women often take work in maquiladoras in 140 Elizabeth Fussel, "Making Labor Flexible: The Recomposition of Tijuana's Maquiladora Female La bor Force" in Feminist Economics 6: 3 (2000): 63. Accessed March 28, 2010. doi : 10.1080/13545701.2010.530603. 141 Fussel, "Making Labor Flexible," 64 65


79 spite of the lower wages because it is a relatively more stable job than the informal emp loyment that the women have access to otherwise. Krzysztof Wodiczko's Tijuana Projection gave voice to the marginalized population of women workers that are often victims of unreported and undocumented abuse and oppression. The projection took place at th e Centro Cultural Tijuana, the only cultural institution outside of Mexico City that is owned by the Federal Government. 142 The Centro Cultural (fig. 40) was designed by Manuel Rosen in 1982 to celebrate Mexican cultural heritage. 143 Among the buildings at the Centro is a large spherical Omnimax Theater, on its faade Wodiczko projected images of women giving testimonies about their lives working in maquiladoras. For two nights, a crowd gathered to watch as the women took part in the construction of a public c ultural narrative in which their stories of persecution reflected upon the cultural heritage of Tijuana at large. For the project Wodiczko fashioned a specially designed headpiece that attached a digital camcorder, microphone, and LED lights to the head o f the participant (Fig. 41). The lights microphone and camcorder were focused on the face of the speaker so that their testimony could be captured, projected, and amplified in real time. The headpiece had the additional benefit of allowing the participants to walk around while speaking (Fig. 43 44). The faces of the women were fit to the large spherical structure of the Centro Cultural, so they became the focus of the crowd of over 1,500 people (Fig. 44 47). 142 "Centro Cultural Tijuana," Centro Cultural Tijuana accessed March 28, 2012, glish.php 143 Patricia Philips, "Creating Democracy: A Dialogue with Krzysztof Wodiczko," Art Journal 62, no. 4 (2003): 44, accessed March 30, 2012,


80 The camera was positioned so that the faces proj ected were captured in a low angle shot. This had the effect of making the women appear as if they were caught in a slightly supine position, a position that speaks to subservience, immobility, and impotence. This was a powerful visual representation in th at it reinforced the stories of violence, abuse, and rape that the women revealed. These are women made invisible by the silent hands of a capitalism that has constructed a sort of modern day colonial tyranny through industrialization. The larger than lif e projection took this invisible face of oppression and monumentalized and personalized it. It simultaneously provided the women with the tools necessary to tell their stories to a large audience, whilst reminding that same audience of their societal posit ion. The fact also that the women appeared to be looking up suggested that they were testifying to a larger audience than the one gathered before the Centro Cultural. A very interesting and powerful dynamic was created as the women told their stories. Eac h woman, as she donned the headpiece and began her testimony, was simultaneously in the crowd and on the building looking out to the crowd and up to the sky. Her voice was her own and was at once a voice that every person gathered could hear. The women's s tories were incredibly personal but they reflected upon international, or at least citywide, concerns. This event was a perfect example of the way in which, "Art keeps together moments of subjectivity associated with singular experiences." 144 It allowed for a public disclosure that released a trauma suffered in silence. In this manner, through the intersection of subjectivities, a subjective identity was constructed that is of social import. Women that are otherwise marginalized by socio 144 Bourriaud, Relational Aesthetics, 20.


81 economic system that silences them and erases their bodies were given the opportunity to reconstruct their identities before an audience. During this event they "appropriated the symbolic authority, as well as the physiognomy of the architecture." 145 Their faces and stories wer e incorporated into the environment of the Centro Cultural, allowing for public visibility of both their bodies and their stories. In a video documentation of the event, a portion of one woman's testimony is illuminated. In this small section, translated f rom Spanish, we hear her say, "And I have also dreamt of bulls, the size of elephants. There are many bulls, many of them surrounding me, ramming their horns into me. It's raining very hard, and I try to yell out for help and no one, no one hears me." 146 The repetition of "no one," in the public recollection of her dream is juxtaposed with the public to which she tells her story. In this way her story of magnified isolation, of a cry that goes unanswered, was recreated as a moment of collective social experie nce. In the essay "The Public Memory in Place and Time," Edward Casey explains that, "The primary locus of memory is found not only in body or mind (or even brain, mind's physiological counterpart) but in an intersubjective nexus that is at once social an d collective, cultural and public." 147 The Tijuana Projections allowed for a public staging of this intersubjective nexus that joined together multiple memories. 145 Krzysztof Wodiczko, as quo ted in Philips, "Creating Democracy," 44. 146 Krzysztof Wodiczko Hiroshima Projection, subtitled video documentation of public projection, 11 minutes 43 seconds, MIT TechTV, accessed February 25, 2012, 147 Edward S. Casey "Public Memory in Place and Time" in Framing public memory ed. Kendall R. Phillips (Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 2004), 21.


82 In an interview with Patricia Philips, Wodiczko addresses the idea of "community" and how his tr auma related work deals with notions of community. 148 As he mentions, communities are not always positive. One may desire to be released from one's community, one may feel stifled and alienated by one's community. This is an important point in relation to th e testimonial style projections, in which the participants were momentarily released from their communal identifications and were allowed to speak independently of issues that could reflect negatively on community perception. There is one testimony in the documentation of the Tijuana Projection that reveals these intricacies of community feeling as well as exemplifying the disavowal and erasure that these women face at the hands of the maquiladora establishment. A woman tells of working the night shift in a crutch factory. The women workers were made to use a substance that she calls "La Bricoline." Without knowing what this substance was or its possible effects, she started to have serious dermatological problems. Her skin became completely black where sh e had been exposed. She could not quit because she needed the work, and when she took the issue to the doctor, he basically told her that nothing was wrong. The doctor, presumably a member of her community, refused to testify on her behalf, a simple move t hat would have allowed her medical leave from the inhospitable conditions at the maquiladora. He told her that she must not quit working, that nothing was wrong with her in spite of her pain, discomfort, and discoloration. The situation that Wodiczko creat ed with the Tijuana Projections allowed her to reveal this painful experience. 148 Phillips, "Creating Democracy," 42.


83 The site of the projections opens a transitional space in which "the speaker becomes a critical participant in the environment of the monument. The speaker begins to animate th e monument. Another kind of dialogue begins for the city at large, perhaps for the world." 149 In this way, Wodiczko's Tijuana Projections transformed a modern monument into a forum for the performance of parrhesia and exposed the true human costs of "free t rade." Hiroshima Projection Construction on what was to be called the Hiroshima Prefectural Commercial Exhibition Hall was completed in 1915. 150 It stood on the east bank of the Motoyasu River and was meant to symbolize and promote industrial production and progress in the Hiroshima prefecture. On August 6, 1945 at 8:15 am the first atomic bomb exploded almost directly over the Exhibition Hall. The direct downward force of the bomb onto the building meant that the building's structure was basically preserved, though everyone inside was killed upon impact. It stood as an upright skeleton amid a graveyard of destruction, the only building left at the bomb's hypocenter (fig. 48). When reconstruction of the city began, the skeletal building remained as a symbol of death, destruction, and blind power rather than industrial progress. In 1966, the Hiroshima City Council decided officially that the building should be preserved in perpetuity as the principal landmark of the Peace Memorial Park, which was developed betwe en 1950 and 1964. The building is now known as Genbaku (Atomic Bomb) Dome. 149 Wodiczko, as quoted in Philips, "Creating Democracy," 38. 150 "Hiroshima Peace Memorial," Unit ed Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural, Organization accessed March 30, 2012, The entire history of the Genbaku dome as presented here was constructed from information on the UNESCO page about the Memorial.


84 In 1999, Krzysztof Wodiczko received the 4 th Hiroshima Art Prize "for his contribution as an artist to the world peace." 151 For Wodiczko the idea of "world peace" is a slippery term that often entails utopian ideals that fail to represent the full spectrum of experience. In truth, he does not believe that one can actually work towards peace, at least peace in the way it is commonly understood. World peace as a concept relies upon the presupposition that there is a universal understanding of peace and that this condition is a positive one. Wodiczko understands himself to be working towards a peace that requires critical discourse rather than global pacification. He works against a sile ncing peace, one that pacifies at the expense of individual dissent. Through his work, particularly his testimonial based projections, Wodiczko seems to enable a peace that is founded upon dialogue and debate, raising difficult issues that are too often su ppressed in favor of consensus. As Wodiczko makes clear, "to prevent the world from bloody conflict, we must sustain a certain kind of adversarial life in which we are struggling with our problems in public." 152 For Wodiczko peace is a state of complete publ ic disclosure that is not necessarily comfortable. Urged to pursue this version of "peace," or state of revelation, after receiving the Hiroshima Art Prize, Wodiczko proposed a public projection that was to take place on the night of the anniversary of th e first atomic bombing. The projection was the result of a yearlong project recording the testimonies of survivors in Hiroshima. The term 151 "Krzysztof Wodiczko, Professor Emeritus," MIT Visual Arts Program Faculty accessed April 13, 2012, 152 "Krzysztof Wodiczko: Hiroshima Projection,'" Art 21 accessed January 12, 2012, http://ww wodiczko/interview krzysztof wodiczko hiroshima projection


85 "survivor" was not limited to only those that survived the dropping of the actual bomb, but was expanded to include se cond, third, and fourth generation survivors. This expansiveness allowed for multiple representations to arise, revealing that the effects of the bombing continue to echo and are made manifest in more ways than physical suffering. "The fallout of the bombi ng is physical and cultural, psychological." 153 The site of the projection was the Atomic Bomb Dome, a location that was already encoded as a peace memorial. On the night of the anniversary, 54 years after the bombing, Wodiczko helped to animate this histori cal site, allowing it to speak as a survivor. The testimonies of the survivors that Wodiczko recorded were broadcast while the hands of each survivor were projected onto the river wall that separates the Atomic Bomb Dome from the Motoyasu River (fig. 49 52 ). The hands were recorded in sync with the testimonies, so that the movement of the speaker's hands corresponded with their speech, visually representing each survivor. In their testimonies, the survivors explored various issues related to the atomic bomb One young woman, born in Hiroshima, spoke of the pains of stigmatization. A man she loved rejected her because his parents feared that she might carry the effects of radiation in her body, which could produce a deformed children. She expressed indignatio n at their blindness; they and many others could not see that the people of Hiroshima had lived beyond this one event and did not pose a potential genetic threat to society. Through the public projection she was given the opportunity to express this anger as one of the many layers of experience marked by the atomic bomb. 153 Krzysztof W odiczko, Hiroshima Projection, subtitled video documentation of public projection, 11 minutes 43 seconds, MIT TechTV, accessed February 25, 2012, http://


86 In contrast to this woman's sense of change, progress, normalcy, and "just fine"ness, one survivor spoke of her obligation to live as a memorial to the victims of the bomb who can no longe r represent themselves. She revealed that at one time she hated to speak about it her overwhelming feelings surrounding the trauma, she felt that she "did not have the words." 154 Wodiczko said of the project that it was often difficult for the survivors to o vercome the silence imposed by their community in order to speak out to that selfsame community. 155 For this woman, speaking became necessary it became a way to turn this widely contested historical moment into a real personal experience. It is not only the site of projection that undergoes a revitalization and animation, but the event itself. The blind objectivity of history is refuted in favor of the highly personal testimonies of people that have experienced firsthand the trauma of history. Through the ac counts of the survivors and the formal properties of the projection, the river becomes incorporated into the structure of the work. It flowed directly below the site of the projection and clearly reflected the luminous hands of the survivors along with the looming image of the A Bomb Dome. One survivor described the gruesome scene on the day of the bombing. The fires that consumed the city forced people to try and seek refuge in the river, without realizing that it too had been poisoned by radiation. "The r iver was covered with so many dead bodies that you couldn't see the surface of the water." 156 In the next breath, the survivor gestured to the river with her hands and asked the public 154 Krzysztof W odiczko, Hiroshima Projection, subtitled video documentation of public projection, 11 minutes 43 seconds, MIT TechTV, accessed February 25, 2012, 155 Philips, "Creating Democracy ," 38. 156 Krzysztof W odiczko Hiroshima Projection, subtitled video documentation of public projection, 11 minutes 43 seconds, MIT TechTV, accessed February 25, 2012,


87 if they saw the way the river ran, the way it moved downstream in front o f the dome, calmly flowing to the left. In this moment and through her public remembrance, the immediate experience of the river was expanded, and the space was thickened by layers of personal experience. The river could be understood as a graveyard and th e reflection of the projected hands ghosts shimmering on the river's surface. The water continued to move on, as does time, seeming to bring with it the hope for healing and renewal. The Alien Staff The Alien Staff as designed by Wodiczko is an instrumen t designed for the immigrant in an urban space. The form of the staff underwent various re conceptualizations and manifestations from 1992 1996 (fig. 53), but it basically maintains the appearance of a large walking stick. At the top of the walking stick's cobra like head is a small computer monitor, maybe 3x4 inches, which plays a prerecorded video of its user The mid section of the staff (fig. 54 57) is made of a series of interchangeable, clear, cylindrical containers that allow for "the preservation a nd display of precious relics related to various phases of the owner's immigration history." 157 A material history of the immigrant is represented by family photos, rejected visa applications, deportation notices (fig. 56), watches, etc. sentimental fragment s of a life under construction. One user of the Alien Staff Patrica Pirreda, carried the shards of a broken porcelain cup (fig. 55). The cup, she explained, was not broken in an accident but broken through years of use. The cup was used for Italian espre sso, and through constant 157 Krzysztof Wodiczko, "Alien Staff (Xenob‡cul) (1992)" in Critical Vehicles: Writings, Projec ts, Interviews ed. Krzysztof Wodiczko (Massachusetts: The MIT Press, 1999), 105.


88 fluctuations in extreme temperature the hot of the espresso against the cold of the porcelain gradually fractured. The cup, she explained, "is completely broken, and at the same time completely impregnated." 158 The cup is both relic and metaphor a shattered entity whose loss of unity does not represent a loss of meaning, each piece still bears significance and possesses the memory of its full existence. Pirreda comments seemed to suggest that the cup was always already fragmented. On ce useful as a vessel for coffee, she now uses it as a vessel for memory and personal meaning. "With broken pieces like that, it's easy to make a cup like that, but not easy to make anything else." This fragmentation is not necessarily easy to conceive or communicate because we desire unity. A subject is created as the positive condition of an "other". If the other cannot be represented as a whole, as a single and fixed entity, then likewise the subject, the self, becomes destabilized as a result. Like Wodi czko's projections, the Alien Staff project induces a reconsideration of stable identity. Between 1992 and 1997 more than 20 people operated variants of the Alien Staff in different cities around the world, including Barcelona, Paris, Marseille, New York, Stockholm, Houston, Helsinki, Warsaw, Rotterdam, and Boston (fig. 58 62). The participants were primarily immigrants or refugees, but in some cases they were legally recognized citizens that were still unrecognized and ostracized socially. 159 The audio proj ection combined with the prominence and strangeness of the staff attracts the close 158 "A Few Reactions to Alien Staff," in Krzysztof Wodiczko ed. Duncan McCorquodale (London: Black Dog Publishing Limited, 2011), 239. This text is a transcript from Jean Loui s Sonzogni, Reactions to Alien Staff color film, 30 minutes, produced by the French Ministry of Culture and Grand Canal Studios, Paris, 1993. 159 "Alien Staff (1992 1996)" in Krzysztof Wodiczko ed. Duncan McCorquodale (London: Black Dog Publishing Limited, 2011), 222.


89 attention of those strangers who care to notice. The monitor's small size required a shrinkage of physical boundaries that are maintained in more typical social encounters. Alien Staff creates a space of performativity in which self presentation is clearly structured as a representation founded in the encounter with an "other." The encounter materializes as both an internal (me and the alien inside of me) and external encoun ter (me and them) that exposes the complexity of self definition and identity. The Alien Staff does not help to make these narratives whole, self sufficient, or complete, but rather evokes the simultaneity of contradictory understandings, the admittance of repressions and subjective mutations. Many of the narratives oscillate between two languages, expressing the fundamental insufficiency of the adopted language, and the loss of meaning and communicability as one moves from one's mother tongue to a foreign language. This state of "inbetweeness" was further expressed through the contradiction of performed narratives. The users of the Alien Staff were allowed to speak against the prerecorded narratives transmitted by the staff itself and thus perform memory as a process or project dependent upon conflicts. Meaning, as it is figured in this project is located in the fracturing and reconstructing of identity. By constructing an already othered identity for the foreigner or immigrant, as an entity which does not quite belong, which is already different from the identity one considers oneself to possess, the dominant subject is able to exert control and influence over whose stories are maintained as part of a larger "cultural narrative." Although the issue of ident ity is obviously quite crucial to Wodiczko's practice, I believe that his critical examination of identity helps to get at fundamental issues related to public space. His work functions both to expose and express the public sphere "not as a physical


90 locati on but as a phantomatic space wherethere is no clear separation between public and private realms, where meaning continuously appears and fades, where one faces the uncanniness and intimacy of others and, in consequence, the uncertainty of one's very self ." 160 The Alien Staff is part of the Xenology Series a set of instruments or prosthetics, that have the effect of visually marking an "other" while at once enabling his/her production of social discourse. Like the other instruments in this series, the Alien Staff directly opposes the politics of assimilation that encourage the erasure of problematic otherness. In these works memory "becomes a site of exposition which both reveals the subject's vulnerability and enables his/her visibility." 161 The Alien Staff calls attention to itself and its user, exposing his/her difference and asserting the importance of this difference. Conclusion Memory as Narrative All of these projects create a "place" for memory that is just as transient and mobile as the subjects. The movement and instability that Wodiczko meditates upon refutes the general tendency, expressed most famously in Pierre Nora's influential work Les Lieux de MŽmoire (1984 1992), to fix memory and understand it as a product of spatial and temporal experience that is always stable and available for reflection. In an extremely insightful short essay entitled, "Migratory Subjects: Memory Work in Krzysztof Wodiczko's Projections and Instruments," Luiza Nader uses Julia 160 Luiza Nader, "Migratory Subjects: Memory Work in Krzysztof Wodiczko's Projections and Instruments," in Memory and Migration: Multidisciplanry Aprroaches to Memory Studies, ed. Julia Creet and Andreas Kitzmann (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2011), 251. 161 Ibid.


91 Kristeva's metaphorization of the foreigner as a "scar" to elucidate the way in which Wodiczko creates mnemonic experiences that generate a "process of splitting and re establishing the self, history, and public space." 162 Through Wodiczko's public mediations the wound and trauma of a solitary memory is mobilized and reformed as a narrative that serves a social function. The "ripped narration" of the immigrant is performed and reformed as a narrative under construction. The apparent constructedness of the mnemonic devices, such as the relics displayed within the body of the Alien Staff or figured through the cultural sites of the public projections, reflect the social constructedness of objective linear narratives further revealing the construction and presentation of one's self as it is made public. O ne can understand these various projects to be working towards the construction of a mask. The body of the participant is transposed onto the architectural faade, or is realized as a duplication within a mnemonic device, thereby momentarily fixing identit y as a public image. The vastness of individual experience is given a stable moment within the figure of the mask, which allows for a space in which parrhesia is made possible for the individual that constructs the mask. "The mask plays a positive role: it literally enables narration, acting as a literal and metaphorical shelter for the face of the migrant and for her/his vulnerable subjectivity." 163 However, it is the insufficiency of any mask that produces the strangeness of the self as it is rendered pub lic through language. As Beatriz Colomina says, "The mask produces what it hides." 164 162 Nader, "Migratory Subjects," 250. 163 Nader, "Migratory Subject," 258. 164 Colomina, Privacy and Publicity 23.

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92 Conclusion No one really inhabits the general public. This is true not only because it is by definition general but also because everyone brings to such a category the pa rticularities from which she has to abstract herself in consuming this discourse. 165 Understanding the public sphere as a rhetorical system, similar in its relational meaning to a system of language, reemphasizes the public condition of both Wodiczko and Al s's artistic practice. As I have demonstrated, both artists use the construction of narratives to propagate ideas within a discursive social sphere, insisting upon the revelation of obscured spatial and temporal constructions by dealing with the space and individuals that is unaccounted for or taken for granted in dominant arrangements of space and power. The fables and myths embedded within Als's practice reflect upon a space of cultural imagination replete with dreams and mythical figures, the meanings made in his work are contingent upon the mutability of space. Using fables as a revelatory narrative device speaks to the absurdity of political appropriations of space and bodies, as well as the instability of top down regulatory systems of power. He rel ocates creation and knowledge in the individual and emphasizes the multiple meanings made available through spatial practice. In this effort, he understands the body to be the primary site of knowledge. This concern is clearly evoked in both his paintings and his performances, 165 Michael Warner, "Mass Public and the Mass Subject," 11 to 21: On the Position of the Spectator in Contemporary Cu lture no. 0 (2010 2011): 32, accessed April 20, 2012, ing

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93 which function to disassemble prescribed organizations of space and experience by inserting and asserting the power of poetic interventions to create or expose new meanings. The memories that are mobilized in Wodiczko's public pract ice stress the multiple subjectivities at play in any given experience of space. Active sites of memory are created that allow for the participation of a population that is too often forced into privacy by governing annexations of space. His aesthetic medi ations allow for individuals to produce public narratives that are of social import. In this effort he maintains the danger of parrhesia, but emphasizes its necessity for survival and subjectivity. In Privacy and Publicity: Modern Architecture as Mass Med ia Beatriz Colomina discusses modern architecture, and the building as a "construction," in terms of its use as a mode of representation between a subject and an object. 166 Within modernity the "object" becomes defined by a multiplicity of divisions separat ing interior and exterior realms. As these boundaries begin to undermine one another, the "objecthood" of the object is called into question thus reflecting the dissolved "unity of the classical subject presumed to be outside of it." 167 In response to this f ragmentation and loss of meaning the subject undertakes a search for limits as a means of survival and establishing identity. In the work of Wodiczko and Als these limits are destabilized, producing a shared and public experience of private indeterminacy. The inherent conflicts of the public sphere are emphasized rather than suppressed. How, then, can we reconsider these works in light of new genre public art? How is their work exceptional in its capacity for the creation of individual autonomy? How 166 Colomina, Privacy and Publicity 14. 167 Ibid.

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94 does it produce a public and "care" for the public it produces? In this respect, both artists present new ways to approach the dilemma of relevant public art practice. The ephemerality or temporal density of their work grants them a social and political urgency The spectator or participant is urged to reconsider how space is created. Both artists activate space, by hominizing architecture and by illuminating the productive capacity of certain configurations of space. They both question who controls and produces space and how such dominations are made absurd or meaningless in the face of individual autonomy. Their work insists that identity and meaning are constructed in public space and thus question the possibility of external viewpoints. The indeterminacy emph asized in their practice, which produces processes rather than objects, reflects the necessary indeterminacy of the democratic public sphere, it punctures the closure of public space that occurs in the attempt to define it or demarcate who and what can be meaningful in this realm. In the time spent working on this project, my concept of the public sphere and art that addresses or produces the possibility of this sphere has developed dramatically. The visionary work of Rosalyn Deutsche has allowed me to bet ter understand the basic indeterminacy of this term. I have come to understand its nature as a sort of process, a process that in its resistance to closure, is never quite complete. Like Wodiczko's continual reactivation and revitalization of monuments, or Als's layers of paint and performances, the public sphere cannot be closed. The endurance and openness of the term, as well as the relational quality of its meanings and uses makes concluding this project quite difficult. If the object of study is itself in motion the discourse that addresses and illuminates it is likewise in motion. I can only hope that I have at least achieved a

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95 platform from which one can better situate and discuss the consequences of producing public art and how these works can reflec t the process of self representation and personal power.

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96 BIBLIOGRAPHY Als. Francis. "A Thousand Words: Francis Als talks about When Faith Moves Mountains." Artforum 40, no. 10 (2002): 146. Accessed November 13, 2012. Als, Francis. Le Temps Du Sommeil Milano: Charta, 2010. Als, Francis, Julien Devaux, Philippe Bellaiche, and Rachel Leah Jones. Sometimes Doing Something Poetic Can Become Political and Sometimes Doing Something Political Can Becom e Poetic New York: David Zwirner, 2007. Beardsley, John. "Personal Sensibilities in Public Places." Artforum 19 (Summer 1981): 46 49. Bees, Andreas. "Walks." In Francis Als: Time is a Trick of the Mind edited by Francis Als Frankfurt: Revolver, 200 4. Bourriaud, Nicolas. Relational Aesthetics. Dijon: Les Presses du rŽel, 2002. Casey, Edward S. "Public Memory in Place and Time." In Framing Public Memory edited by Kendall R. Phillips, 17 44. Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 2004. "Centro Cu ltural Tijuana," Centro Cultural Tijuana accessed March 28, 2012, Colomina, Beatriz. Privacy and Publicity: Modern Architecture as Mass Media Cambridge: MIT Press, 1994.

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97 Deleuze, Gilles and FŽlix Guattari. A Thousa nd Plateaus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1987. Deutsche, Rosalyn. "Agoraphobia." In Art and Spatial Politics edited by Rosalyn Deutsche, 267 327. Cambridge: MIT Press, 1996. Donohue, Keith, ed. National End owment for the Arts, 1965 2000: A Brief Chronology of Federal Support for the Arts rev. ed. Originally published in 1995 and titled National Endowment for the Arts, 1965 1995: A Brief Chronology of Federal Support of the Arts Washington, D.C.: Office of Communications, National Endowment for the Arts, 2000. Accessed March 20, 2012. Doss, Erika. "Public Art Controversy: Cultural Expression and Civic Debate," Monograph (one of the benefits of Americans for the Arts ) (October 2006): 1 11. Accessed January 23, 2012. Ferguson, James. Expectations of Modernity: Myths and Meanings of Urban Life on the Zambian Copperbelt Berkeley: University of California Press, 19 99. Foucault, Michel. Fearless Speech Los Angeles: Semiotext(e), 2001. Fussel, Elizabeth. "Making Labor Flexible: The Recomposition of Tijuana's Maquiladora Female Labor Force." Feminist Economics 6: 3 (2000): 63. Accessed March 28, 2010. doi : 10.1080/1 3545701.2010.530603. "George Washington Sculpture by Horation Greenough, 1840." Legacies: Collecting America's History at the Smithsonian Last modified 2001. Accessed January 24, 2012.

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98 G riswold, Charles L. "The Vietnam Veterans Memorial and the Washington Mall: Philosophical Thoughts on Political Iconography." In Art in the Public Sphere edited by W. J. T. Mitchell, 79 112. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1992. Godfrey, Mark, Klaus Biesenbach, and Kerryn Greenberg, eds. Francis Als: A Story of Deception New York: The Museum of Modern Art, 2010. "Hiroshima Peace Memorial." United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural, Organization Accessed March 30, 2012. Hoffman, Barbara. "Law for Art's Sake in the Public Realm." In Art in the Public Sphere edited by W. J. T. Mitchell, 113 146. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1992. Kee nan, Thomas. "Windows: of vulnerability." In The Phantom Public Sphere edited by Bruce Robbins, 121 141. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1993. "Krzysztof Wodiczko: Hiroshima Projection.'" Art 21 Accessed January 12, 2012. http://www.art21. org/texts/krzysztof wodiczko/interview krzysztof wodiczko hiroshima projection "Krzysztof Wodiczko, Professor Emeritus." MIT Visual Arts Program Faculty Accessed April 13, 2012. Lacy, Suza nne. "Introduction: Cultural Pilgrimages and Metaphoric Journeys." In Mapping the Terrain: New Genre Public Art edited by Suzanne Lacy, 19 47. Seattle: Bay Press, 1995. "Landmark Object: George Washington Statue, 1841." National Museum of American Histo ry Kenneth E. Behring Center Accessed January 23, 2012.

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99 Lang, John S. "A memorial wall that healed our wounds." In U.S. News and World Report 95, (21 Nov. 1983): 68 70. Lefebvre, Henri The Production of Space Malden: Blackwell Publishing, 1974. Massey, Doreen. "Power geometry and a progressive sense of place." In Mapping the Futures: Local cultures, global change edited by Jon Bird, Barry Curtis, Tim Putnam, George Robertson and Lis a Tucker, 58 69. London: Routledge, 1993. McCorquodale, Duncan, ed. Krzysztof Wodiczko London: Black Dog Publishing Limited, 2011. Medina, CuauhtŽmoc, Francis Als, Russell Ferguson, and Jean Fisher, Francis Als London: Phaidon Press, 2007. Miles Malcolm. Art, Space, and The City: Public Art and Urban Futures London: Routledge, 1997. Mitchell, W. J. T. "Introduction: Utopia and Critique." In Art in the Public Sphere edited by W. J. T. Mitchell, 1 5. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 19 92. Mitchell, W. J. T. "The Violence of Public Art." In Art in the Public Sphere edited by W. J. T. Mitchell, 29 48. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1992. Natter, Wolfgang, and John Paul Jones III. "Identity, Space, and other Uncertainties." In Space and Social Theory: Interpreting Modernity and Postmodernity edited by Georges Benko and Ulf Strohmayer. Malden: Blackwell, 1977. Nader, Luiza. "Migratory Subjects: Memory Work in Krzysztof Wodiczko's Projections and Instruments." In Memory and M igration: Multidisciplanry Aprroaches to Memory Studies, edited by Julia Creet and Andreas Kitzmann, 249 262. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2011.

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100 North, Michael, "The Public as Sculpture: From Heavenly City to Mass Ornament." In Art in the Public Sphere edited by W. J. T. Mitchell, 9 28. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1992. "One Simple Action, Documented, Redocumented, and Documented Again." Art Tattler International Accessed April 15, 2012. ml. Phillips, Patricia. "Out of Order: The Public Art Machine." Artforum no. 27 (1988): 92 97. Philips, Patricia. "Creating Democracy: A Dialogue with Krzysztof Wodiczko." Art Journal 62, no. 4 (2003): 33 47. Accessed March 30, 2012. http://www.jstor.o rg/stable/3171229. Rakatansky, Mark. "Krzysztof Wodiczko: Disfiguring -Refiguring" postscript to "Alien Staff" Assemblage no. 23 (1994): 18 27. Raven, Arlene, ed. Art in the Public Interest Ann Arbor: UMI Research Press, 1989. Serra, Richard. "Testi mony." In Public Art, Public Controversy: The "Tilted Arc" on Trial edited by Sherrill Jordan, Lisa Parr, Robert Porter, and Gwen Storey New York: American Council for the Arts, 1987. Smith, Neil. "Homeless/global: scaling places." In Mapping the Future s: Local cultures, global change edited by Jon Bird, Barry Curtis, Tim Putnam, George Robertson and Lisa Tucker, 87 119 London: Routledge, 1993. "Statement by Maya Ying Lin, March 1981 (presented as part of her design submission)." Vietnam Veterans Memo rial Foundation Accessed December 18, 2011.

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101 Warner, Michael. "Mass Public and the Mass Subject." 11 to 21: On the Position of the Spectator in Contemporary Culture no. 0 (2010 2011): 21 35. Accessed April 20, 2012. http://i ing Warner, Michael. Publics and Counterpublics New York: Zone Books, 2002. Wodiczko, Krzysztof. "Alien Staff (Xenob‡cul) (1992)." In Critical Vehicles: Writings, Projects, Interviews edited by Krzysztof Wodiczko. Massachusetts: The MIT Press, 1999. Wodiczko, Krzysztof Hiroshima Projection. Subtitled video documentation of public projection, 11 minutes 43 seconds. MIT TechTV. Accessed February 25, 2012. Wodizcko, Krzysztof. Tijuana Projectio n Subtitled video documentation of public projection, 9 minutes 17 seconds. MIT TechTV. Accessed March 17, 2012. Wolfe, Tom. "SITE: German Miesles and Plazamania Meet the Rocket Red Laugh." In SITE: Identity and Density Edited by St eve Womersley. Australia: Images Publishing Group Pty Ltd, 2005. Young, James E. "The German Counter Monument: Memory against itself in Germany Today." In Art in the Public Sphere edited by W. J. T. Mitchell, 49 78. Chicago: The University of Chicago P ress, 1992.

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102 FIGURES Fig. 1. Horatio Greenough, George Washington 1841. National Museum of American Art (formerly National Collection of Fine Arts), Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C. Photograph by Lesch courtesy of American Sculpture Photograph S tudy collections.

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103 Fig. 2. Richard Serra, Tilted Arc 1980. Cor ten steel. Copyright Richard Serra/Artists Rights (ARS), New York.

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104 Fig. 3. Richard Serra, Tilted Arc (Detail), 1980. Cor ten steel. Copyright Richard Serra/Artists Rights (ARS), New Y ork. Fig. 4. Maya Lin, Vietnam Veterans Memorial 1982. Marble, 240'x10' overall. Washington, D.C. Photo by Larry Qualls.

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105 Fig. 5. Maya Lin, Vietnam Veterans Memorial (Detail of etched names), 1982. 1982. Marble, 240'x10' overall. Washington, D.C. Ph oto by Larry Qualls. Fig. 6. Maya Lin, Vietnam Veterans Memorial (Detail of reflections), 1982. Marble, 240'x10' overall. Washington, D.C. Photo by Elizabeth Barlow Rogers.

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106 Fig. 7. Maya Lin, Vietnam Veterans Memorial (Detail of veteran leaning on wall ), 1982. Marble, 240'x10' overall. Washington, D.C. Photo by Sal Lopes.

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107 Fig. 8. Frederick Hart, Three Fighting Men 1984. Bronze casting. Washington, D.C.

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108 Fig. 9. Frederick Hart, Three Fighting Men (detail), 1984. Bronze casting. Washington, D.C. Fig. 10. Vietnam Veterans Memorial Flag 1984. Washington, D.C.

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109 Fig. 11. Maya Lin and Frederick Hart, Vietnam Veterans Memorial Park 1984. Washington D.C.

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110 Fig. 12 Francis Als, le temps du sommeil (The Time of Sleep) 1996 present. Oil, encaustic, crayon and collage on wood, 4 5/16" by 5 7/8". The dates stamped on each painting indicate the different stages of retouching. Fig. 13. Francis Als, le temps du somm eil (The Time of Sleep) 1996 present. Oil, encaustic, crayon and collage on wood, 4 5/16" by 5 7/8". The dates stamped on each painting indicate the different stages of retouching.

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111 Fig. 14. Francis Als, le temps du sommeil (The Time of Sleep) 1996 pre sent. Oil, encaustic, crayon and collage on wood, 4 5/16" by 5 7/8". The dates stamped on each painting indicate the different stages of retouching. Fig. 15. Francis Als, le temps du sommeil (The Time of Sleep) 1996 present. Oil, encaustic, crayon and collage on wood, 4 5/16" by 5 7/8". The dates stamped on each painting indicate the different stages of retouching.

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112 Fig. 16. Francis Als, le temps du sommeil (The Time of Sleep) 1996 present. Oil, encaustic, crayon and collage on wood, 4 5/16" by 5 7/ 8". The dates stamped on each painting indicate the different stages of retouching. Fig. 17. Francis Als, le temps du sommeil (The Time of Sleep) 1996 present. Oil, encaustic, crayon and collage on wood, 4 5/16" by 5 7/8". The dates stamped on each pa inting indicate the different stages of retouching.

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113 Fig. 18. Francis Als, le temps du sommeil (The Time of Sleep) 1996 present. Oil, encaustic, crayon and collage on wood, 4 5/16" by 5 7/8". The dates stamped on each painting indicate the different sta ges of retouching. Fig. 19. Francis Als, le temps du sommeil (The Time of Sleep) 1996 present. Oil, encaustic, crayon and collage on wood, 4 5/16" by 5 7/8". The dates stamped on each painting indicate the different stages of retouching.

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114 Fig. 20. Fr ancis Als, le temps du sommeil (The Time of Sleep) 1996 present. Oil, encaustic, crayon and collage on wood, 4 5/16" by 5 7/8". The dates stamped on each painting indicate the different stages of retouching. Fig. 21. Francis Als, le temps du sommeil (The Time of Sleep) 1996 present. Oil, encaustic, crayon and collage on wood, 4 5/16" by 5 7/8". The dates stamped on each painting indicate the different stages of retouching.

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115 Fig. 22. Francis Als, le temps du sommeil (The Time of Sleep) 1996 presen t. Oil, encaustic, crayon and collage on wood, 4 5/16" by 5 7/8". The dates stamped on each painting indicate the different stages of retouching. Fig. 23. Francis Als, Untitled (Zicte/Chewing Gum) 1995 1997, 1 of 80 35mm slides. Mexico/United States.

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116 Fig. 24. Francis Als, Milky Way 1995. Color photograph, Mexico City.

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117 Fig. 25. Francis Als, Placing Pillows 1990. Photographic documentation of an action, Mexico City.

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118 Fig. 26. Francis Als, Sleepers 1996 2006. 1 of 80 35mm slides, Mexico C ity. Fig. 27. Francis Als, Sleepers 1996 2006. 1 of 80 35mm slides, Mexico City.

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119 Fig. 28. Francis Als, Sleepers 1996 2006. 1 of 80 35mm slides, Mexico City. Fig. 29. Francis Als, Sleepers 1996 2006. 1 of 80 35mm slides, Mexico City.

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120 Fig. 30. Francis Als, Ambulantes (Pushing and Pullin g), 1992 present. 1 of 77 slides 35mm slides, Mexico City. Fig. 31. Francis Als, Ambulantes (Pushing and Pullin g), 1992 present. 1 of 77 slides 35mm slides, Mexico City.

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121 Fig. 32. Francis Als, Ambulan tes (Pushing and Pullin g), 1992 present. 1 of 77 slides 35mm slides, Mexico City.

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122 Fig. 33. August Sanders, Coal Carrier, Berlin 1929. Gelatin silver print, 9 1/2 x 6 in. J. Paul Getty Trust.

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123 Fig. 34. Francis Als, Sleepers (exhibition view).

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124 Fig 35. Francis Als, Song For Lupita 1998. Drawing for animation, pencil on tracing paper, each 35 x 29 cm.

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125 Fig. 36. Francis Als, The Green Line 2002. Photographic documentation of an action, Jerusalem. Video, 17 min 45 sec.

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126 Fig. 37. Francis Als, Fairy Tales 1995/95. Photographic documentation of an action, Stockholm.

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127 Fig. 38. Francis Als, The Leak 1995. Photographic documentation of an action, S‹o Paulo. Fig. 39. Krzysztof Wodiczko, Vehicle Podium ., 1977 1979. Photographic documentation of an action, Warsaw, Poland.

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128 Fig. 40. Manuel Rosen, El Centro Cultural Tijuana 1982. Tijuana, Mexico. Fig. 41. Krzysztof Wodiczko, Tijuana Proj ection (headpiece), 2001.

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129 Fig. 42. Krzysztof Wodiczko, Tijuana Projection (Participant wearing headpiece), 2001. Still from video documentation of public pro jection (as part of In Site 2000), Tijuana. Courtesy of Galerie Lelong, New York.

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130 Fig. 43. Krzysztof Wodiczko, Tijuana Projection (Participant wearing headpiece with the projection in the background), 2001. Still from video documentation of public proje ction (as part of In Site 2000), Tijuana. Courtesy of Galerie Lelong, New York.

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131 Fig. 44. Krzysztof Wodiczko, Tijuana Projection, 2001. Still from video documentation of public projection (as part of In Site 2000), Tijuana. Courtesy of Galerie Lelong, Ne w York. Fig. 45 Krzysztof Wodiczko, Tijuana Projection, 2001. Still from video documentation of public projection (as part of In Site 2000), Tijuana. Courtesy of Galerie Lelong, New York.

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132 Fig. 46. Krzysztof Wodiczko, Tijuana Projection, 2001. Still from video documentation of public projection (as part of In Site 2000), Tijuana. Courtesy of Galerie Lelong, New York. Fig. 47. Krzysztof Wodiczko, Tijuana Projection, 2001. Still from video documentation of public projection (as part of In Site 2000), Tijuana. Courtesy of Galerie Lelong, New York.

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133 Fig. 48. Associated Press, Untitled (Man looking over expanse of debris after the detonation of the first atomic bomb. The ruins in the background are the shell of the old Hiroshima Prefectural Industrial Promotion Hall), 1945. Hiroshima, Japan.

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134 Fig. 49. Krzysztof Wodiczko, Hiroshima Projection 1999. Still from video docume ntation of public projection at the A Bomb Dome, Hiroshima, Japan. Courtesy of Galerie Lelong, New York.

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135 Fig. 50. Krzysztof Wodiczko, Hiroshima Projection 1999. Still from video documentation of public projection at the A Bomb Dome, Hiroshima, Japan. C ourtesy of Galerie Lelong, New York.

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136 Fig. 51. Krzysztof Wodiczko, Hiroshima Projection 1999. Still from video documentation of public projection at the A Bomb Dome, Hiroshima, Japan. Courtesy of Galerie Lelong, New York.

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137 Fig. 52. Krzysztof Wodiczko, H iroshima Projection 1999. Still from video documentation of public projection at the A Bomb Dome, Hiroshima, Japan. Courtesy of Galerie Lelong, New York.

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138 Fig. 53. Krzysztof Wodiczko, Alien Staff (variations), 1992 1993. Built by Brooklyn Model Works, N ew York.

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139 Fig. 54. Krzysztof Wodiczko, Alien Staff (relics' of Jagoda Przybylak, a Polish immigrant), 1993. Old ID photographs, a watch from Poland, a photograph of a previous, abusive employer, an old, used Polish English dictionary, correspondence from the Immigration Department, etc. New York.

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140 Fig. 55. Krzysztof Wodiczko, Alien Staff (container with Patrica Pirreda's broke family coffee cup), 1993. Paris.

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141 Fig. 56 Krzysztof Wodiczko, Alien Staff (container with Abdelkader N'Dali's Immigration Dep artment deportation notice), 1993. Paris.

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142 Fig. 57. Krzysztof Wodiczko, Alien Staff (Adul So and Hamed Sow using the Alien Staff in Stockholm), 1994. LCD screen and speaker, bag with video player and batteries, interchangeable Plexiglas containers for re lics.' Stockholm.

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143 Fig. 58. Krzysztof Wodiczko, Alien Staff (Jagoda Przybylak engages with audience), 1993. LCD screen and spe aker, bag with video player and batteries, interchangeable Plexiglas containers for relics.' New York.

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144 Fig. 59. Krzysztof Wodiczko, Alien Staff 1993. TracadŽro, Paris. Project realized with the research and production support of FRAC, le de France, Paris, and Galerie Gabrielle Maubrie Fig. 60 Krzysztof Wodiczko, Alien Staff 1994. Stockholm. Project realized in conjunction with the group exhibition Revir/Territory at the Kulturhuset, Stockholm, with the support of the Center for Psychotherapy and Cross Cultural Communication in Stockholm.

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145 Fig. 61. Krzysztof Wodiczko, Alien Staff 1992. First developed, produced, and tested with the support of Fundac’ o Antoni Tˆpies, additional assistance from SOS Racismo. Barcelona. Fig. 62. Krzysztof Wodiczko, Alien Staff 1992. First developed, produced, and tested with the support of Fundac’o Antoni Tˆpies, additional assistance from SOS Racismo. Barcelona.