Artists Working with Publicness

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Freee's Revolution Road: Rename the Streets!

<blockquote>Wysing commissioned the Freee art collective new public project in Cambridge Following an elaborate series of scripted ceremonies, Freee and a small group of invited ‘witnesses’ took to the streets of Cambridge to rename a selection of the city’s streets along a route from the Court to Kings College.</blockquote>

<blockquote>Existing place names such as King Street, Jesus Street and New Street are renamed by the group through secular ‘christening’ speech acts temporarily occupying the streets of Cambridge with the names, anecdotes and legacy of those 18th century activists who were inspired by the French Revolution to engage in radical political movements in the UK.</blockquote>

<blockquote>The script divided the participants into ‘chalk-holders’ and ‘witnesses’, the former responsible for writing the new names of the places on a blackboard held near to the existing place name; the latter responsible for acknowledging the renaming and proclaiming their assent to the new name in a spoken exchange amounting to a secular christening.</blockquote>

<blockquote>The witnesses played an absolutely central role in the performance. Not merely its audience or its participants in the ordinary sense, the witnesses had a similar function to godparents at a christening or witnesses at a wedding ceremony. Thus, Freee create a mini, temporary counterpublic in honour of arguably the first fully-fledged counter-public sphere in British history.</blockquote>

Jens Haaning's Turkish and Arabic Jokes

<blockquote> There are always multiple publics that encounter a project. So it is critical how an artist chooses to privilege certain cultural biases and expectations over others.</blockquote>

<blockquote>In the Turkish area of central Oslo a tape-recording of jokes, told by Turks in their native language, was played. The recording was broadcasted through a loudspeaker attached to a light pole. Haaning continued his work on Arabic or Turkish jokes with a project in 2002 for planet22 in geneva, Switzerland. It consisted of posting an Arabic joke in the streets of Geneva; it did not reveal its origin, and there was no signature, simply some information in Arabic characters that is incomprehensible to most people in Geneva. And yet, for the immigrant public, this work brought humor and familiarity to an otherwise foreign, perhaps even antagonistic, urban experience. source </blockquote>

Rirkrit Tiravanija: Untitled 1999

<blockquote> In 1999, Tiravanija built a life-size model, mostly in plywood, of his East Village apartment-studio, in Gavin Brown's big front gallery. This installation, which placed Tiravanija's private home within the public gallery venue, had a working kitchen with a gas stove, a full bath, a bedroom, a VCR, a bunch of tapes, a boom box, and some books. Unlike most gallery exhibits, it was open 24 hours a day.</blockquote>

<blockquote>“You could sleep there, eat there, shower, or whatever. Someone claimed to have had sex there, and another person said he had group sex there. I have only had lunch there.” (Jerry Saltz, art critic)</blockquote>

<blockquote>By shifting the terms of a gallery show and expanding the potential for social interaction with the artist, the experience of the project was jointly shaped by Tiravanija and the public. source</blockquote>

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