ART BEYOND GALLERY: James Lingwood, Jan Hoet, Kasper König; ICA,London; 20/2/88

The introduction to the conference outlines a sense of dissatisfaction, and conversely of possibility, for art within public spaces.

At the time of the conference Lingwood was curator at the ICA. He talks about TSWA 3D project, co-organised with Jonathan Harvey and Tony Foster. This presented 9 simultaneous temporary commissions of new work at public sites in Britain as well as two gallery based projects. It set out to subvert the perception of public art as an 'apologetic and anaemic' practice; to 'unfix the meaning' of the spaces occupied, and overcome the distinctions between gallery-going and local audiences; underpinned by the convictions that there is no single public, and that audiences are active participants in creating a work's meaning. He describes two commissions in detail: Antony Gormley's work on the city walls of Derry, and Richard Wilson's on the Tyne Bridge. He looks at each work in terms of the generality and site-specificity of its meanings, and ends with questions about how to ensure such work is taken seriously and not dismissed as spectacle.
Hoet talks from his position as Director of Ghent Museum of Contemporary Art (later S.M.A.K.) He outlines his view that the museum's duty is to explore what art is and what it can be in an 'abstract way', avoiding personal and psychological interpretations, and to operate as an 'instrument for art', a site of challenge for artists. At the same time, he says, the museum has a responsibility to engage the public in current thinking about art; it cannot be defined as culture because it is always sitting in judgement on culture. Projects in alternative spaces give the opportunity to break out of these conventions. His position on the role of the curator is ambivalent, mocking and also playing with the popular perception of exhibition makers as auteur.

Hoet gives a brief analysis of 1986 project 'Chambres d'Amis', where artists installed work in private houses in Ghent. Curator of the ten-yearly Munster Sculpture Project, König describes how the first show in 1977 was prompted by the violent public reaction to the installation of a sculpture by George Rickey, 'Three Squares Rotating, version ii'. König became interested in examining how attitudes towards public art works change over time according to societal factors; for instance, in post-World War 2 western Germany many cities were 'cluttered' with sculptures as a way of expressing commitment to democracy and freedom. Decades on, these sculptures were viewed in a different light. He devised an idea to remove all public sculpture from their sites in the city of Antwerp and gather them together in an exhibition, collating information on who commissioned the work and what has changed in its context since the time of its installation. This 'impossible project' looked at questions including how to maintain a focus on process rather than product?; what does public art mean to the inhabitants and users of a space?; is the role of the patron tenable today?; are there still symbols which can be used to create collectivity?

Following this section of the conference, audience members asked questions on the selection methods and criteria for the projects discussed, and whether it was appropriate that the organisers and commissioners still came from within a museum context when they were producing projects for public spaces.

There is a lot of noise interference in this recording, especially towards the end.


Accession No. WAA.033
Artist: ART BEYOND GALLERY: James Lingwood, Jan Hoet, Kasper König
Container annotation: Tape 1
Place/Year: ICA,London 20/2/88
Type: Conference
Technical aspects:
Duration: 90'
Tape capacity: 90
Tape brand: TDK