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UAL Research Online

How to Talk to Public Art

Beech, Dave and Hewitt, Andy and Jordan, Mel (2006) How to Talk to Public Art. [Art/Design Item]

Type of Research: Art/Design Item
Creators: Beech, Dave and Hewitt, Andy and Jordan, Mel

The work consists of 14 short videos of the three artists in Freee taking texts to ‘protest’ at various public artworks in Manchester. Each text, written in a variety of formats (hand-written on a blackboard, painted on a banner, etc), addresses a specific public monument, transforming the civic experience into one of dissent and debate: the videos are intended to act as templates for others to talk back to public art, thus talking back to the state – with the potential to produce actual counter-public spheres.

One of ten new commissions for the BBC and Arts Council, England in 2006, curated by International 3, Manchester, ‘How to Talk to Public Art’ was shown at 1000000mph Gallery London as part of ‘Politics is Beautiful’, a solo (Freee) exhibition (2007). The work was featured in an all day event at the Serpentine Gallery run by Freee in 2007.

The work extends Nicolas Bourriaud’s theory of relational aesthetics, which he characterizes as ‘so many hands-on utopias’, by establishing lots of little genuine acts of counter-hegemonic public dissent. ‘How to Talk to Public Art’ re-casts the viewing public as made up of active individuals. In this way, the work reconfigures what Carol Duncan calls ‘rituals of citizenship’ into performances of counter-hegemonic resistance. Any utopianism in the work derives entirely from its politicization of culture and the activation of individuals as capable of resistance, self-determination and dissent.

In a review of the work for [AN] magazine, Bryan Eccleshall describes the work thus: ‘This could all be ironic postmodern guff, but I don't think so. Freee talk about encouraging a rounded, questioning, free(e) thinking citizenry that are awkward and searching, rather than blindly towing any party line, which is an encouraging idea in an era beset with false gurus, celebrity endorsements and plug-in air fresheners.’

Additional Information (Publicly available):

These videos are available on YouTube.

Your affiliations with UAL: Colleges > Chelsea College of Arts
Date: 27 November 2006
Related Websites: http://www.youtube.com/profile?user=melandydave#g/u
Related Websites:
Date Deposited: 07 Dec 2009 12:52
Last Modified: 29 Sep 2011 14:24
Item ID: 825
URI: https://ualresearchonline.arts.ac.uk/id/eprint/825

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