This response addresses three of the five essays contained of the Art U Need document, beginning with Public Art u need, Public Art for all, Public Art as boycott: directions in artists' reponses to the present state of public art in the UK by Alberto Duman, continuing with the untitled statement by Catherine Harty, followed by In search of a situation by Claire Doherty. I will take bits and peies of each of these to stitch together a response of what resonates with me.
Alberto Duman attempts to frame what public art is what it can be and some of the theoretical considerations that deserve expression in getting there. He aptly deconstructs the economic and political purpose of attempts at public art programs in the place and time in which he writes (the UK recently, including the runup to London's Olympic games in 2012). Duman's criticisms range from the theoretical considerations of gallery space (a la Robert Smithson), to criticism of the bureaucracy of public art as serving the interests of the art world, and not the public, or attempting to impose an art agenda on communities rather than provide negotiation or discourse.
In her untitled statement Catherine Harty responds to the very definition of public art with a quote from Chantal Moufee: "Critique that public art is not art that is in a public space, but art that institutes a public space, a place of common action among people." To this end the project we have been assigned to create a "social space" and this edge of social/public is an area I am interested in exploring further and am currently doing so in my thesis work. To clarify Harty's point a little further, we can deconstruct Harty/Mouffe's statement or quote: whose public is it? How do we contextualize public?
Claire Doherty seems to chime in with the answer. Site specificity is the key indicator of a public artwork or one that attempts to comment upon publicness and socialness. Is a public artwork the same contextualized in say downtown Chicago vs Tiennamen Square? I would say "no". Thus Duman's assessment that publicness is relative to the discourse on the relations (via Bourriand) betwen the makers, audience or community and the bureaucracy that surrounds it is poignant. My recent work explores this are as well. In Andyland-Ukraine, I attempt to juxtapose two notions of personal/social/public space to investigate relationships, economic political in the realm of artistic discourse.