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Vickery, Jonathan (2011)
Publisher: Taylor & Francis
Languages: English
Types: Article
Subjects: N1
The subject of this study is a large public art project by German artist Jochen Gerz, which was part of the urban regeneration program The Phoenix Initiative in Coventry City, 1999-2004. The study presents a short historical backdrop to Gerz’s work by way of defining ‘public authorship’ of which the Coventry project is one example. It extends the literature on contemporary countermonument by assessing Gerz’s artistic strategy in using a monument to exploring the conditions of public culture and possible shape of a cultural public sphere in the contemporary city. The public art project lasted over five years and was a mechanism by which the political issues at stake in the public life of Coventry, particularly the socio-historic conflicts that are constitutive of its civic identity, were articulated. The study argues that public authorship succeeded in identifying some crucial coordinates in the political constitution of public culture in Coventry, but in the face of competing civic rhetoric and new urban policy initiatives, the project remains an open inquiry. This study concludes by identifying some critical lines of inquiry for future studies in art’s critical role in the public sphere.
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    • 1. For example, see G. Evans, 'Creative Cities, Creative Spaces and Urban Policy', Urban Studies, vol. 46, May 2009, pp. 1003 - 1040; P. Guillet de Monthoux, 'The art management of aesthetic organizing', in S. Linstead, H. Hopfl, eds, The Aesthetics of Organization, London: Sage, 2000, pp. 35-60; V.L. Pollock and R. Paddison, 'Embedding Public Art: Practice, Policy and Problems', Journal of Urban Design, Vol. 15. No. 3, 2010, pp. 335-356; Hamilton, J., Forsyth, L. & de Iongh, D., 'Public art: a local authority perspective', Journal of Urban Design, vol. 6, no.3, 2001, pp. 283-296.
    • 2. The criticism and historical analysis of public art in Britain since the 1970s has been dominated by American art history and theory, contexts summarised by Cher Krause Knight in Public Art: Theory, Practice, Populism, Oxford: Blackwell, 2008, and to that extent has largely avoided broader European debates on public culture, cultural policy and the public sphere. For a study that cuts across European public art, cultural and urban policy, see M. Miles, Urban Avant-gardes: Art, Architecture and Change, London: Routledge, 2004.
    • 3. A good early introduction to this is T. Hall and I. Robertson, 'Public art and Urban Regeneration advocacy, claims and critical debates', Landscape Research, vol. 26, no.1, 2001, pp. 5-26.
    • 4. For example: M. Bell and Jayne, M., ''Design-led' Urban Regeneration: A Critical Perspective', Local Economy, vol. 18, no. 2, 2003, pp. 121-134; C. Bailey, S. Miles, and P. Stark, 'Culture-Led Urban Regeneration and the Revitalisation of Identities in Newcastle, Gateshead and the North East of England', International Journal of Cultural Policy, vol.10, No.1, 2004, pp. 47-65; J. Sharp, P. Venda and R. Paddison, 'Just Art for a Just City: Public Art and Social Inclusion in Urban Regeneration', Urban Studies, vol. 42, no. 5/6, 2005, pp. 1001-1023; J. McCarthy, 'Regeneration of Cultural Quarters: Public Art for Place Image or Place Identity?' Journal of Urban Design, vol. 11, no. 2, 2006, pp. 243-262.
    • 5. See J. E. Fossum and P. Schlesinger, eds. The European Union and the Public Sphere, London: Routledge, 2007; the American Social Science Research Council 7. S. Baker, 'Interview with Jochen Gerz', Oxford Art Journal, vol. 24, no. 2, 2001, pp. 25-40; S. Wright, 'Toward Public Authorship' (Interview with Stephen Wright) Third Text, vol.18, no. 6, 2004, pp. 649-656.
    • 8. The publicity was designed in part by Gerz's research team: see Coventry School of Art & Design, 'This is your Artwork' [publicity flyer for the Public Authorship project: design by Zenon Texeira], 2000.
    • 9. J. Hunt, 'Jochen Gerz: Collaborations with the Public', Art & Architecture Journal 59, 2003, pp. 27-30.
    • 10. For an overview of all his work with plaques, see J. Gerz, Jochen Gerz - Res Publica: The Public Works 1968-1999, Hatje Cantz Verlag, Museion Bozen/Bolzano, 1999.
    • 11. V. Lovell and R. MacCormac, eds., Phoenix: Architecture/Art/Regeneration, London: Black Dog Publishing, 2004; R. MacCormac, 'Coventry Phoenix Initiative Achieving Urban Renaissance through Public Space and Art', available at http://www.mjparchitects.co.uk/essays.php (accessed 4 June 2010), 2004; R. MacCormac, 'Art and Regeneration in the City of Coventry', available at http://www.mjparchitects.co.uk/essays.php (accessed 4 June 2010), 2005.
    • 12. B. Goulden, 'Artist in Pledge to City People', Coventry Evening Telegraph, 11 December, 2001; C. Rank, 'Remembrance and Reconciliation: Public Spaces, Collective Memory, and the Development of a Municipal Peace Identity in Coventry, U.K', Fifth International Peace Museum Conference, (1 - 6 May) Guernika, Spain, 2005.
    • 13. Op cit. Baker, 2001; Op cit. Wright, 2004; and M. Price, 'Jochen Gerz', Fused Magazine, issue 15, May 2003.
    • 14. R. Petzinger and V. Rattemeyer, eds., Jochen Gerz: Catalogue Raisonné (vols 1-4), Nuremberg: Verlag für Moderne Kunst, 2010.
    • 15. J. Gerz, L'Anti-Monument, Les Mots de Paris, Paris Musée/Actes Sud, Paris, 2002; J. E. Young, 'The Counter-Monument: Memory against Itself in Germany Today', Critical Inquiry, vol. 18, no. 2, Winter 1992, pp.267-296; M. North, 'The Public as Sculpture: From Heavenly City to Mass Ornament', Critical Inquiry, vol. 16, no. 4, Summer 1990, pp. 860-879; M. Miles, 'Critical Spaces: Monuments and Changes', in C. Cartiere and S. Willis, eds. The Practice of Public Art, London, Routledge, 2008, pp. 66-90.
    • 16. F. Nietzsche, The Use and Abuse of History (trans. Arian Collins), New York: Macmillan, 1985, p. 17 and passim.
    • 17. On this, see C. Calhoun, 'Civil Society and the Public Sphere', Public Culture 10, 1993, pp. 267-280.
    • 18. Explained lucidly in Op.cit. Young, 1992.
    • 19. Interview with Jochen Gerz by the author on 12th July 2010.
    • 21. John Locke, Two Treatises of Government [1689], Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1988. John Stuart Mill, On Liberty [1859], Penguin Classics, 2006.
    • 22. J. Habermas, Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere: An Inquiry into a Category of Bourgeois Society, trans. Thomas Burger, with Frederick Lawrence, Cambridge: Polity Press, 1989.
    • 23. P. U. Hohendahl, ed. Öffentlichkeit - Geschichte eines kritischen Begriffs, Stuttgart: J B. Metzler, 2000, p. 2 and passim.
    • 25. J. Gerz, In Case We Meet [catalogue for exhibition, 'Temps Détournés - Vidéo et Internet Dans L'oeuvre, 1969-2002'], Centre Pompidou, Musée national d'art moderne, Éditions du Centre Pompidou, Paris, 2002.
    • 26. Op. cit. Habermas, 1989, pp. 232; 248; The point on Habermas's quoted statements here occurred to me while reading Op. cit. Kellner, 2010; I am generally indebted to Kellner's understanding of Habermas. See his 'Habermas, the Public Sphere, and Democracy: A Critical Intervention' in L.E. Han ed. Perspectives on Habermas, Chicago: Open Court Press. See also Calhoun's 'Introduction' in C. Calhoun, ed. 1999, pp.32 on intra/interorganizational transformation; for Habermas's turn from this idea, see his 'Further Reflections', C. Calhoun, ed. 1992, p.444.
    • 27. J. Gerz, 'Creating a Cultural City', Third Text, vol.21, no. 4, 2006, pp. 457-462; A. Hapkemeyer, 'On the Principle in Dialogue in Jochen Gerz's works for Public Spaces', in Op. cit. Gerz, J. 1999, pp. 22-32.
    • 28. C. Mouffe, 'Art and Democracy: Art as an Agonistic Intervention in Public Space', Open, issue 14, 2008, pp. 6-27; S. Sheikh, In the Place of the Public Sphere, Berlin: bbooks, 2005.
    • 29. N. Fraser, 'Rethinking the Public Sphere: A Contribution to the Critique of Actually Existing Democracy', Social Text, vol. 25, no. 26, 1990, pp. 56-80; A. Amin and N. Thrift, Cities: Re-Imagining the Urban, Cambridge: Polity Press, 2002.
    • 30. For more on Dublin and Ruhr, see the Gerz Studio website: http://www.gerz.fr/; J. Gerz, '2-3 Streets: An Exhibition in Three Cities in the Ruhr', Wuppertal: NRW KULTURsekretariat, 2006.
    • 31. The consultancy was The Public Art Commissions Agency, now Modus Operandi. See V. Lovell, 'Coventry Phoenix Initiative: Public Art Strategy and Programme', Birmingham: Public Art Commissions Agency, V. 1998. For a critique, see D. Cottrel and K. Watt, 'Coventry's Phoenix Initiative: Sustainability and the Symbol of the 'Rebirth' in Contemporary Urban Regeneration' [unpublished], The Second International Conference on Environmental, Cultural, Economic and Social Sustainability: Hanoi and Ha Long Bay, Vietnam, 2006.
    • 32: The project was given oversight by a public committee, called the Millennium Forum, but directed by The Phoenix Initiative organization, within which operated a 'design team' chaired by the masterplanner.
    • 33. For historical background to Coventry's past and current urban design development, see T. Mason and N. Tiratsoo, 'People, Politics and Planning: the reconstruction of Coventry City Centre 1940-53', in J. M. Diefendorf, Rebuilding Europe's Bombed Cities, New York: St. Martins Press, 1990, pp.108-110; L. Campbell, 'The Phoenix and the City: war, Peace and Architecture', Op. cit. Lovell and MacCormac, 2004, pp. 22-27; J. Hunt, 'Coventry: City of the Future, The Phoenix Initiative', Art & Architecture 60, 2004, pp.13-17. See particularly S.H.Walford, 'Architecture in Tension: an examination of the position of the architect in the private and public sectors, focusing on the training and careers of Sir Basil Spence (1907-1976) and Sir Donald Gibson (1908-1991)', PhD thesis (unpublished), University of Warwick, Department of History of Art, 2009.
    • 34. Op. cit. MacCormac, 2005, p. 2; for his architectural rationale, see R. MacCormac, 'Art and Accountability', available at http://www.mjparchitects.co.uk/essays.php (accessed 20 June, 2010), 2005.
    • 35. Op. cit. MacCormac, 2004; R. Imrie and M. Raco, Urban Rennaissance? New Labour, Community and Urban Policy, Bristol: The Policy Press, 2003.
    • 36. DETR, Modern Local Government: In Touch with the People, London, Department of Environment, Transport and the Regions/ Stationary Office, 1998; DETR, Towards and Urban Renaissance: Urban Task Force Report, London: Department of Environment, Transport and the Regions/Stationary Office, 1999.
    • 37. DETR, By Design. Urban Design in the Planning System: Towards a Better Practice, London: Department of Environment, Transport and the Regions/CABE, 2000; ODPM, Green Space, Better Places: Final Report of the Urban Green Spaces Task Force, London: Office of the Deputy Prime Minister/ Stationary Office, 2002; CABE, The Value of Public Space: How high quality parks and public spaces create economic, social and environmental value, London: CABE/CABE Space, 2004.
    • 38. C. Bishop, 'The Social Turn: Collaboration and its Discontents', Artforum, February 2006, pp.179-185.
    • 39. Op. cit. Imrie and Raco, 2003.
    • 40. G. Hauser, Vernacular Voices: The Rhetoric of Publics and Public Spheres, Columbia, South Carolina: University of South Carolina Press, 1999.
    • 41. M. Miles, 'Interruptions: Testing the Rhetoric of Culturally Led Urban Development', Urban Studies, vol. 42, no. 5/6, 2005, pp. 889-911.
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