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European Expert Meeting on Percent for Art Schemes

Session Two: Art and the Social Sphere

Lower Austria : Katharina Blaas-Pratscher, Public Art

'The lower Austrian example of public art'

Katharina Blaas-Pratscher spoke on behalf of the Department of Culture and Science/Art in Public Space in the Lower Austrian government. She explained the situation in her federal state and showed a series of examples.

Lower Austria is the region around Vienna, a region which is characterised by a great deal of agriculture, winegrowers, small companies and tourism. The latter is increasingly coupled to culture.

The classical Kunst am Bau concept and the percentage scheme were in force in the eighties but problems soon arose regarding this system. The cooperation between architects and artists did not always go very smoothly, particularly because artists were called in at a late stage in projects. Additional problems were that the reserved budget was linked specifically to a building and that the quality of the architects in the region was not very good.

After a number of very exacting years with disappointingly few results, a new system was introduced for art in public space along the lines of the Hamburger model (see: percentage schemes). A jury of eight independent members (artists, architects and other experts, which changed every three years) evaluated the projects. This process consists of three steps: firstly local authorities make proposals for projects. Subsequently the jury decides on the projects to be realised and organises a public tender or invites artists to apply. Finally the jury evaluates the entries and advises the local authorities about the artist(s) to be chosen. The local government is not bound to this advice but the money is (50% of the costs are for the pool, 50% for the community itself).

Communication with the local community is very important here. The link between artists and residents is in this case the administrator of the project. About a quarter of the projects are subsequently not realised, for various reasons.

In the last ten years approximately 300 projects have been implemented, varying from autonomous art to street furniture, to context-specific and communicative, temporary interventions. Two years ago a database of all the projects realised was set up. [1] A number of documentaries have also appeared. Every two years a book is published with a theoretical approach to the subject. This year a new public programme was started which includes guided tours along projects.

Blaas presented a series of examples to illustrate the broad spectrum of artistic approaches and the local response. Her examples included the following:

1. PRINZGAU / podgorschek, 'Entdeckung der Korridore' ('The Discovery of the Corridor'), landscape project by Paasdorf, 1995

This artistic duo realised a fictitious archaeological dig which suggests that a short section of a motorway is exposed. It is now one of the most published projects and, furthermore, a meeting place for raves, road movies and picnics.

2. Ricarda Denzer, 'Täuschungsmanöver', Allentsteig

Denzer placed a periscope at the highest point in the city. The periscope enables one to see a panorama of the surrounding area, including a forbidden military zone. There is a text integrated in the periscope which falls over the image in the view finder like a subtitle.

3. Pia Lanzinger

Lanzinger made four radio plays for which she asked older women from the village to talk about the identity of the village, including topics such as migration, the war, old age and contemporary political themes. The stories could be listened to by means of an intercom system next to a telephone box or by calling a particular number.

The Netherlands : Dees Linders, Stichting Kunst en Openbare Ruimte (Foundation for Art and Public Space, SKOR)

'BLOB pavilion'

Dees Linders is advisor to the SKOR [2] . Linders went briefly into SKOR's points of departure and presented the Eindhoven University of Technology's "BLOB Pavilion".

SKOR is a foundation which always co-operates with other commissioning authorities. It has no building or locations, and is active throughout the whole country. As can be seen above, the abbreviation SKOR stands for Stichting Kunst en Openbare Ruimte or, in English, the Foundation for Art and Public Space. This use of the word, EN (AND) rather than IN (IN) in its title indicates the foundation's search for space for the discipline of public art. SKOR assumes the view that art can function in a meaningful way, even if it does not result in a work of art.

Case Study: Jurgen Bey, BLOB pavilion, Eindhoven University of Technology

Arno Pronk, researcher at the Eindhoven University of Technology, came to SKOR with a request for a sculpture whereby the artist, whom he already had in mind, would use the Blowing Structure Method. This technique was developed for the optimum realisation of BLOB (Binary Large Objects) architecture, digitally-controlled designs of flowing architecture. They enable the creation of a smooth, streamlined building from a single piece. The first building realised in this way is on the university campus. Education is one of the points upon which SKOR focuses. SKOR asked the artists Jurgen Bey, Ronald Cornelissen and Gabriel Lester to develop a blob, each in cooperation with seven students from the University. They had to organise a workshop in which Pronk's BS method would be used. The objective was to create a small pavilion for the campus which could function as a platform for new collaborative projects. The groups held weekly sessions for two months. Conflicts about artistic freedom and technical requirements arose regularly in the process. Not many of the students remained involved right up to the end of the project. Ronald Cornelissen invited his students to come to his studio (a former swimming pool) but lost all of his students except for one within two weeks; after further consideration one other student came back. The artist's hunt for illogic was difficult for the students to follow. Cornelissen finally designed a blob in the form of an open toe shoe which could function as a sort of bar or platform. The jury found the design too romantic and not sufficiently future oriented.

Gabriel Lester developed a blob which met all the technical requirements and kept all his students. According to the jury's decision, however, the relationship between form and function tipped too far in the direction of function. The pavilion designed by Jurgen Bey was ultimately realised. He lost almost all of his students, too: they had difficulty dealing with his bizarre, ineffective way of thinking. He gave a lecture on the cohesion of new ideas, new techniques and new forms and, together with the students, analysed the syntax and the functionality of blobs. Finally he made a blob pavilion which is a cluster of the various plans of the students. It functions as an ironic commentary on the form and function of blob architecture. In this design, he incorporated the extreme forms and new functions which are enabled by the technique and configuration of forms. The pavilion can be used both in a horizontal and a vertical position in a series of functions: as a transparent box over a work of art; as a fountain in the river de Dommel; as a lounge or hotel room; as a video room, because images can be projected both inside and outside; as a lamppost; and as speakers' corner (on the roof).

In the coming years the blob will be used as a trigger and platform for experimental projects which focus on the relationship between art and technology. The Eindhoven University of technology and the Van Abbemuseum will be taking care of the programming.


Jeroen Boomgaard asked whether SKOR is still involved in the use of the pavilion. He works on the campus and has the impression that not much is being done with it. Linders indicated that the follow-up is always a difficult point. The Faculty of Architecture draws up the programmes in cooperation with the Van Abbemuseum and SKOR has therefore taken a step down.

Belgium : Therese Legierse,

'Project for the blank walls in Ghent'

Therèse Legierse is an independent project manager and advisor. She presented projects by two organisations for which she works: the Interlocal Production and Communication Center (IPCC) and New partnerships in Art.

An advisor from the Ministry asked Legierse to help with two institutions which wanted to tackle art in public space: the IPCC, which stimulates cooperation in this field between various local communities, and New Patrons in Art. It was difficult for these organisations to achieve recognition as centres for the visual arts and, as such, to obtain subsidies. They mediate for art commissions in public space and are still seen as agents who have to pass on the charges for their services to the parties concerned.

Legierse subsequently developed a master plan for the IPCC which is not based on subsidies from the Flemish government but on cooperation between municipalities and the business community. She took the reality of the space as point of departure in this. The south west region of Flemish-speaking Belgium is a rich industrial area. The area has many collectors, the collections of whom are not always very visible. It is precisely these industries that Legierse wanted to work with or, as it were, get to work. She was able to convince them, and the Ministry of Economic Affairs, that art was necessary for the further development of the area. IPCC concluded a joint venture with the developers of the area Roesselare and Izegem. A subsidy was obtained from the Ministry for art in connection with the development of industrial estates. A commission was awarded to five artists: Gabriel Lester, Olafur Eliasson, Anouck De Clerck, Arno van der Mark and Ann Veronica Janssens. Legierse showed various designs including one by Anouck De Clerck for a pulsating light object, a subtle gesture in this area.

De Nieuwe Opdrachtgevers (New Commissioning Authorities, DNO) function as producer and bring artists and commissioning authorities together. They defend the interests of both the artists and the commissioning authorities. There is always cooperation between the client, the mediator from the DNO and the artist. The DNO organise not only projects, but also symposia and excursions to projects which have been realised. Legierse showed a number of examples of projects in which Les Nouveaux Commanditaires and the New Commissioning Authorities have mediated, including projects by Gloria Freedman and Reni Zaugg; a project for the Baudoin Foundation with works by various studios including Atelier van Lieshout, Ann Veronica Janssen and Niele Toroni; a project by Maria Roosen, who designed tiny glass doves for the courtyard of a library; a project by Stephan Balkenhol for Courtrai. The title of this presentation 'Blank walls in Ghent' is the title of a project being carried out by the DNO in Ghent, where the city administration requested works of art on a number of blank walls. In Flemish-speaking Belgium the DNO usually works together with municipalities in organising campaigns to encourage members of the public to commission works of art. This is contrary to the method used by Les Nouveaux Commanditaires in France which does not receive its subsidies from municipalities but from the Fondation de France. The projects are not related to a building or to the infrastructure or suchlike. The only point of departure is that someone wants to express him or herself by commissioning an artist to create a work of art.


Vera Moosmayer asked whether Legierse thinks that more structural government support is necessary in Flemish-speaking Belgium . Legierse would very much welcome any such support for the initiatives for which she works. The situation in Belgium is unusual in that the Ministry of Culture does not have a policy for art in public space. The Flemish Government Architect's Art Cell does not fall under the Ministry of Culture.

Katrien Laenen explained that the Belgian government may award commissions but it makes no general policy for local building projects. Those involved are, therefore, dependent on private initiatives or cultural organisations in this respect.

[1] This can be found at: www.publicart.at

[2] See also the SKOR website: www.skor.nl