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Documentation of Public Art
Public Art lives a mortal life. Whether it is a mural on the side of the building, a sculpture on a street corner, or a drawing made in the sand, the existance that this public art claims is only temporary. Thus, the need for documentation is essential for it’s memory to live on, and in many cases transfers into becoming the commodified shell of the art itself.
As the concentration is generally on the creation of the temporary work, many pieces are not documented and archived either by intention or oversight on the part of the artist. Another aspect is how the documentation of work taken by others can sometimes overtake the work that was created, shift its intention and take on a life of its own. When memories of art placed on a certain street only live on for those who passed by and were touched/inspired by the work, this can be both effective and can be seen as limiting and unfortunate. Art that exists in the public sphere has often served to shape the way we remember that certain place and time. Such influential pieces can be immortalized through documentation. In this article, we will discuss the ways documentation can turn into an art form itself, artists whose ephemeral work relies on documentation, and certain attempts of archiving the vast and constantly evolving world of public art. In doing so, we hope to influence you to consider on a deeper level, the effects of documentation both as a viewer of public art, and as a creator of public art.
We Invite You to be a Guest at Our Working Lunch
Thursday, June 12, 2014 | Noon to 3:00 pm
The Southern Steak & Oyster Restaurant | 150 3rd Avenue S, Suite #110, Nashville
- Lunch and updates on the Public Art Archive project
- Questions and discussion
- Presentation by Tomas McCabe, Executive Director of the Black Rock Arts Foundation. McCabe will talk about BRAF’s role in supporting civic arts in communities around the world.
- Questions and discussion
- One-on-one consultations about documenting your public art collection
Tomas McCabe is the Executive Director of the Black Rock Arts Foundation (BRAF). A nonprofit organization, BRAF is an affiliate of the Burning Man Project, with a mission to support and promote community, interactive art and civic participation. Through their Grants to Artists and Civic Arts programs, BRAF works with communities around the world to collaboratively produce innovative, relevant and pioneering works of public art that build community and empower individuals.
McCabe has long been a member of the San Francisco creative community and has worked as a freelance film editor since 1991. He is also an accomplished documentary filmmaker. In 1999, he began a three-year journey, which resulted in an award-winning documentary called “Bums’ Paradise,” which tells the stories and shows the extraordinary creativity of a group of homeless men and women, before and after their eviction from the community they built on the Albany Landfill in the San Francisco Bay. He also developed the concept for and scripted “Gang of Souls,” an hour-long documentary featuring poets from the Beat Generation. A former Executive Director of the Berkeley Conservation and Energy Program, McCabe managed a collaborative project between The City of Berkeley and The Ecology Center to assist ethnically diverse and underserved residents to conserve energy and reduce utility bills.
We are pleased to welcome Jennifer Perlow to the Public Art Archive team. Jennifer will be contacting public art administrators about our Collection Showcase feature. See current showcases by Los Angeles County, MOA (Museum of Outdoor Arts), and Seattle.
Watch and download this tutorial to learn about using the Showcase feature to it’s maximum potential.
Contact Jennifer when you’re ready to have your own at Jennifer.Perlow@westaf.org.
A Call to Participate in a Conversation
The Public Art Archive (PAA) project seeks public art professionals to join a field-wide conversation about online tools and services for public art administrators. The goal of the conversation is to inform WESTAF’s PAA team of issues in the public art field and advise on specific proposals related to the development of public art collection management tools and services. These tools and services are being developed as part of the existing PublicArtArchive.org database.
The Archive project is currently advised by a Senior Advisory Committee. That committee advises the Archive project manager on macro-policy issues and long-term strategic planning for the project. The field conversation among public art practitioners is intended to augment, not replace, the work of the already established Senior Advisory Committee.
Who Can Join?
Potentially, participation in this conversation is open to all individuals currently working in the area of public art. Participants can be public art administrators, artists engaged in public art, public art project managers, public art maintenance contractors, curators, conservators, technologists working in the area of public art, public art policy experts, visual resource experts, and scholars of public art.
In order to ensure that various specialties, geographic regions of the United States and Canada, and specialized expertise are represented, invitations will also be extended to specific individuals. Doing so will help ensure that the Archive staff receive broad and deep responses to the issues posed.
Consider Joining If You:
- Love talking about databases;
- Think that the web is the next frontier for the arts;
- Wish you had a better way to manage your public art collection;
- Have a horror story about using your database; or
- Manage a large collection in a highly customized database built just for your needs specifically;
To be a regular and effective participants in this conversation, we ask that you be prepared to:
- Engage proactively and bring issues from the field to the Public Art Archive team.
- Suggest ways that WESTAF can address the needs of the field.
- Reply to monthly emails, polls, or discussion questions via a Facebook group.
- Attend up to two webinar meetings per year, and one in-person meeting if you attend the AFTA conference in June.
- Volunteer for this work, no compensation for your time is offered.
The Conversation Tool
The field conversation will be facilitated via an open Facebook group. The Facebook conversation will be supplemented by webinars and conference calls.
If You Are Interested:
Please complete this short survey (if you have not previously) so that we know about you and your database. If you have already completed the survey, simply email PAArchive@westaf.org directly and Rachel Cain, PAA Program Manager will contact you.
Feel free to forward this announcement to colleagues who you think might be interested in joining the conversation. Please email any questions to PAArchive@westaf.org.