Public Art as Public Authorship
Jochen Gerz's Future Monument and The Public Bench in Coventry City Centre
This paper, by Dr Jonathan Vickery of the Department of History of Art, University of Warwick, discusses the Future Monument and the Public Bench À two related public artworks constructed by Jochen Gerz for the newly designated Millennium Place in Coventry City Centre. This Public Art commission was directed by the Phoenix Initiative - Coventry City Council's city centre regeneration project - and is due for completion in November 2003.
The essay concerns Gerz's concept of 'Public Authorship'. The Future Monument and the Public Bench are products of extensive inquiry and debate concerning the nature of the 'general public' of Coventry, their specific history, identity and social ideals. They take as their theme relationships - friendship and enmity, a theme which determines the content and shapes the form of the artworks.
Vickery looks at the social symbolism of a Public Art object as separate from its artistic qualities or meaning, the symbolism of the obelisk form, the historical role of the monument and how that is translated in the Future Monument. He measures the Future Monument and the Public Bench against the functions usually expected of Public Art, and explores how members of the public were, and continue to be, involved in the development and interpretation of these two works. He sets his findings regarding Jochen Gerz's working practice against the purpose and outcomes of public consultation exercises more usually associated with Public Art commissions.
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