On Public Art
October 16, 2021 - January 23, 2022
Lorenzer Straße 32
Arquus, Winfried Baumann, Joseph Beuys, Monica Bonvicini, Dagmar Buhr, Christo, Tony Cragg, DAF, Jochen Gerz und Esther Shalev-Gerz, Dan Graham, Hans Haacke, Erich Hauser, Haus-Rucker-Co, Barbara Kruger, Alexander Laner, Michaela Meilán, Olaf Metzel, missing icons, Olaf Nicolai, Kasia und Olaf Prusik-Lutz, Raumlabor, Michael Sailstorfer, Anja Schoeller, Nasan Tur, Ina Weber
Buildings, green spaces, squares and streets provide the stage for monuments, fountains and sculptures that remind us, tell stories or simply decorate a city, always intended to contribute to its identity. Whether they are large sculptures that can be seen from far away and make a striking statement, or are barely noticeable in the lively urban throng of shops, passers-by and vehicles: works of art in public space are always “in situ” (Latin for “in place”) – and generally firmly anchored in foundations. Yet the concept of the site-specific has been expanded and altered in recent decades, as has art practice. The spectrum now ranges from the explicit fixing of a sculpture in its ambient architecture to a discursive, open understanding of spatial relationships and social processes and even to site-unspecific, action-oriented forms of art, implemented individually or in cooperation with others. Not least, this is about how the relationships between architecture, art and the public sphere are constantly being renegotiated, because art in the public sphere – more than in the protective framework of a museum – reacts and responds to social reality. The locations, squares and streets within the fabric of a city are subject to enormous changes over time as a result of gentrification, climate change, economisation or traffic congestion. Creating new open spaces or structures here for social participation and creative processes of urban development may also be part of the artistic assignment.
The exhibition In Situ? On Public Art at Kunsthalle Nürnberg takes the 50th anniversary of the Symposion Urbanum Nürnberg 71 as its starting point, considering this in the context of a social and artistic mood of departure, and demonstrating how closely in step with the times Nuremberg was back then. As one of the first events to bring international contemporary art into public space, the symposion triggered fierce discussions and reactions. Nevertheless, 26 of the former 29 works still enhance the city today: autonomous and site-specific sculptures; concrete art in front of innovative urban buildings; memorials and play sculptures in schoolyards.
Spanning five decades, our exhibition bridges the time gap to the present with – again 26 – selected examples of art in public space, including representative large-scale sculptures, participatory projects and temporary actions. Since the original works need to remain in situ due to their dimensions and site-specific connection, or in some cases no longer exist, they are presented in the exhibition by means of photographs, prints, models, films, drawings and installations developed by the artists themselves.
A tour of the exhibition begins with site-specific, largescale sculptures from four decades that were created as representative art-in-architecture projects for new public buildings. Monica Bonvicini, Tony Cragg, Erich Hauser and Olaf Metzel explicitly refer to the particular architecture and function of those buildings with their works, but also add fresh possibilities of meaning and levels of critical interpretation.
The concept of documenta 5 based on an expanded understanding of art whereby the artistic situation is closely interwoven with social, cultural and political reality. Here, the artists’ group Haus-Rucker-Co pointed to increasing air pollution with their work Oasis No. 7 as early as 1972, and only ten years later Joseph Beuys addressed ecological issues at documenta 7 with his participatory artwork 7000 Eichen – Stadtverwaldung statt Stadtverwaltung (7000 Oaks – Urban Forestation instead of Urban Administration) (1982–1987).
Classic genres of art in public space, such as memorials and monuments, also expanded upon repeatedly with innovative concepts: Jochen Gerz and Esther Shalev-Gerz, for example, created the Monument against Fascism (1986–1993) on Harburg’s town hall square – this was a 12-metre-high monument that was lowered gradually into the ground in eight stages. The local people were invited to inscribe their signatures or comments on the surface, so adding new, personal memories. Michaela Melián conceived the first memorial for the victims of fascism in the virtual space of the internet with her audio installation Memory Loops in Munich in 2011. And last but not least, today social networks create an infinitely extended public space, in which images like the graffiti that an anonymous group of artists placed – as Rainbow Prelude – onto the pilasters of the Zeppelin grandstand on Nuremberg’s former Nazi Party Rally Grounds in 2020 can spread and perpetuate themselves remarkably quickly.
At the interface of art and design there are walk-in architectures such as the pavilions by Dan Graham and Olaf Nicolai. They create structures in urban space that can be used free of commercial constraints as places of communication, play or social meeting spaces.
The exhibition at Kunsthalle Nürnberg is complemented by temporary outdoor installations by Nasan Tur and by Ina Weber. In addition, new works by Winfried Baumann, Dagmar Buhr, Alexander Laner, missing icons, Kasia and Olaf Prusik-Lutz and Anja Schoeller will be presented: passers-by will encounter them in Nuremberg today and in the future. They are part of an initiative of the city’s planning and building department, which, in the spirit of the Symposion Urbanum Nürnberg 71, will involve contemporary art more decidedly in the upgrading and redesign of locations and squares in Nuremberg over the coming years.
The exhibition takes place within the framework of the major project Symposion Urbanum Nürnberg, which was initiated and funded by the Planning and Building Department of the City of Nuremberg. It is curated by Ellen Seifermann. The part of the Symposion Urbanum Nürnberg 71 that is integrated into the exhibition is curated by Susann Scholl.
Also as part of the major project the exhibition Art Attacks! 50 years of art in public space in Nuremberg (until November 14th) can be seen at Neues Museum – State Museum for Art and Design Nuremberg.