ERA21 #03/2018 The Art of Public Space

kniha editorial

Art and Place

Veronika Kastlová, Petra Vlachynská

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kniha column

Michal Sedláček

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kniha completed project

Quiet Please. Extension of The DOX Centre for Contemporary Art in Prague »

Petr Hájek, Tereza Keilová, Cornelia Klien, Benedikt Markel, Martin Stoss, Leoš Válka / Petr Hájek Architekti

The DOX Centre for Contemporary Art in Prague has significantly expanded its floor space and its programme with the renovation of an adjacent office building and a new courtyard extension. The office interiors have retained their specific 70’s atmosphere thanks to a respectful approach to the original details and building materials. They are now rented to a private international college of architecture. The courtyard, on the other hand, is completely transformed by two new concrete volumes, cast in situ and wrapped in sound absorbing upholstery. The smaller is a rehearsal room, the bigger an auditorium for music, film or theatre events. The intergrown forms are unified by a subdued light grey facade color. 

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Special Circumstances »

Jan Šrámek, Jana Kořínková

Special Circumstances is a collection of nearly thirty illustrations depicting the lost public space artworks of the socialist era. Its goal is to draw attention to the issue of post-war sculptures that are irreversibly disappearing from the public space. The book was created in collaboration with regional civil initiatives mapping art in the public space during this period. Renowned artists (Karel Nepraš, Tomáš Ruller, Jiří Novák, Miloš Zet, Jan Rajlich sr., etc.) as well as local authors (Ladislav Martínek, Konrád Babraj, František Šenk, etc.) are presented in the book.

starting point

A Vision for Art in the Public Space »

Petra Vlachynská

Maintaining art in public spaces and erecting new art, temporary or permanent, is a common part of cultural policy strategy of European states and metropolises. The discussion about the quality of public space and art in the Czech Republic has been quite lively for several years, but the topic of long-term support has largely gone under the radar. Even after almost thirty years, it is still often unwittingly associated with the practices of the former regime. There has been a certain shift in the last two years, albeit still limited to discussions, search for an agreement, and preparations.


It’s Not Always Easy to Work With Architects. Martina Taig Interviewed by Petra Vlachynská »

The intensity and the ways of supporting art in public spaces differ from city to city. The Viennese institution Art in Public Space (Kunst im öffentlichen Raum, KÖR) is one inspiring example. This organization was originally founded as a fund to support art in public space. It transformed into a limited liability company, under the Kunsthalle Vienna in 2007, and since 2012 it has been owned by the city directly in order to be more narrowly profiled. Its purpose is the revitalization of public space in Vienna through permanent or temporary art projects. We talked with Martina Taig, the Director of KÖR, about different forms of financing, and about the possibilities and problems associated with her position.

completed project

Wind, Oh Wind. The Subtile Sculpture in Sacramento »

Federico Díaz

A five-meter tall, organically shaped sculpture made of thousands of stainless discs fluttering in the wind was installed on the riverbank in Sacramento, California. It was based on an algorithm developed by the theoretical biologist Aristid Lindenmayer to describe the growth of plants. The sculpture blends in with the natural surroundings, with its irregularity and changeability, but at the same time it stands out as something very artificial and modern. It might even be perceived as an error, a rupture in both time and space. Yet, it forces us to stop and once again become aware of something as ordinary as the movement and rustle of leaves in the wind.

completed project

Corona. The Corona Light Sculpture in Nottingham »

Wolfgang Buttress

The installation on the façade of the research institute in Nottingham resembles a fine curtain made of optical fibres and aluminum extrusions. During the day, it acts as a kind of canopy for the building and at night it lights up thanks to special links to two NASA satellites that monitor the surface of the sun and record solar flare activity. The fibres glow in different colors to reflect the flow of energy. The color range progresses and transforms over a 26.5 day period which is the time it takes the Sun to rotate on its axis. The artwork is inspired by the research of astrophysicist Martin Bencsik of Nottingham Trent University.

completed project

Circles on the Water. The Cirkelbroen Bridge in Copenhagen »

Olafur Eliasson

The new pedestrian and cycle bridge over the Christianshavn Canal is another step in the Copenhagen City Hall plan for better accessibility and mobility around the central waterfront area. The shape of the structure refers to the maritime history of the city and to the atmosphere of the packed harbors that looked like you could cross from one bank to the other just by walking from boat to boat. However, the bridge is not supposed to be just a connection of two points; the circular platforms invite people to slow down, look around, and meet each other. It is a small but important contribution to the development of a hospitable and inclusive city.

completed project

A Collector’s Ark. The c-ARK in Chateau Troja in Prague and in Lubná »

Jiří Příhoda

The c-ARK structure-sculpture was erected at the Chateau Troja as a part of the Prague City Gallery’s exhibition Jiří Příhoda: Statues. During the exhibition a central fragment of a ceiling fresco from the main Imperial Hall depicting the Holy Trinity was stored in the ark. In 2016, the c-ARK won the competition Umělec má cenu (Worthy Artist) where artists and curators younger than 35 award artists older than 35. After the exhibition, the author lent the sculpture to a club from Lubná that runs the local cultural center Archa. A place for presenting contemporary art, music, design, and architecture, Archa will also function as a platform for meetings of the local community with the representatives of the national cultural scene.


The Rescue of Stone Flowers »

Ivan Siláči, Paulína Ebringerová

The availability of new technology in the presentation of artwork in the 21st century opens up new possibilities in education as well as support for the growing aesthetic perception of the public. The article presents the fundamental issue of art stripped of its primary function, its influence on the public, as a backdrop for a new interpretation proposal for the selected piece of art. Is the application of modern technology a relevant way to approach their new presentation?

kniha study

Public Space and Forms of (Post)modernism. Comments on the Remodelling of Public Spaces in Brno »

Martina Sedláková

Artwork can increase the aesthetic quality and utility of a public space. The intervention should support the public character of the urban environment both in a spatial sense and in the sense of subjectively perceived qualities. In modernism, art gained an autonomous status. But complete autonomy and artistic freedom might be harmful for the urban environment. When realizing art in public space, political representation, the authors’ personal sensitivity, and the cooperation with the architect, who should oversee the quality of the adaptation, all play an important role.

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It Is Always About the Whole. Kristina Ullmannová Interviewed by Veronika Kastlová »

The main criteria when commissioning art in public space should be maintaining a holistic approach to the city, high quality art, and a transparent, independent selection of artists. We talked with architect Kristina Ullmannová, Head of the Office for Public Space at the Prague Institute of Planning and Development, about the role of art as defined by the new plug-in of the Prague Public Space Design Manual, about her respect for artists, and the reason we need space, both for art comprehensible to the general public and for alternative and minority styles.


A Piece of Art, Please. Ferdinand Vaněk’s Bench in Dejvice »

Miroslav Pavel

Every artist is pleased when their work rouses emotions – be they positive or negative. It is a proof that the society is still living and not just lethargically surviving. However, the discussion that ensued when Ferdinand Vaněk’s Bench in Prague-Dejvice was unveiled in December 2017, wasn’t exactly what the architects Petr Pištěk and Lea Dostálová had imagined. The main topic wasn’t artistic qualities or the concept of the piece, instead it was the price.


Creative Parasitism in Public Space Kukačka Festival in Ostrava »

Jaroslav Michna

Last year, Ostrava hosted Kukačka (Cuckoo) for the seventh time. The platform for the non-gallery presentation of contemporary art is inspired by the nesting parasitism of the Common cuckoo. In this spirit it aspires to enter the public space of the city, to seize it, use it, or coexist with it. Some interventions are easily recognizable, others barely noticeable. But Kukačka is not the only one to leave traces of its existence in Ostrava, it follows in the footsteps of the sculpture symposiums of the 60s and the country’s artistic development after the Velvet Revolution of 1989.


Art as a Catalyst for Dialogue. Examples from Pilsen »

Hana Boříková, Lenka Popelová

In October 2010, an international jury selected Pilsen as the European Capital of Culture 2015. This was a crucial turning point for the West Bohemia city in the discussion about the significance of public space and in its physical development. It led to broader engagement of the general public in the dialogue between artists/activists and citizens, between the organizer and the city. The financial support was available to dozens of community initiatives, Public Art projects, or festivals that used public space for encounters between art (in any form) and the public. One of the most important benefits of these projects was the overall increase of interest in unused industrial and other neglected urban areas.

starting point

The Public Space Stage »

Veronika Kastlová

The physical structure of the city affects the actions and the behavior of people living in it and vice versa. Even though the stage of public space in itself cannot be a theatrical stage, it can (and should) deploy elements of the theatre, mainly to enhance its ephemera. Where are the borders between architecture and theater, the happening, performance, site-specific art, or stage design – if indeed there are any at all?


Surprised by Otherness. Tomáš Žižka Interviewed by Veronika Kastlová »

The true essence of performance is being neglected more and more. Its educational role is vanishing and often it becomes just an advertisement or a spectacle at festivals. Meanwhile, life is disappearing from the streets and squares of our cities as people continue to favor social networks. We talked with Tomáš Žižka, stage designer, theatre director and lecturer, about the role of performance art in public space, what public space actually is, and why architects should go out more and learn how to experience.


A Space for Opinion »


Space as a political gesture, space as a manifesto of freedom, space as an ethical category – thus defines the activities of the D’epog staging group. The architecture of extreme situations is the basic building material which this group from Brno uses to craft their themes. D’epog coherently develops the so-called dramaturgy of space. Aiming to attack the limits of viewers’ perceptions, it deliberately experiments with various models of organizing stage space – mainly the relation between auditorium and stage – and sets its projects in non-theatrical urban spaces. 


Busking Un/Limited »

Spielraum Kollektiv

The current regulation from 2016 radically redefined the forms of street performance (busking) in Prague. It banned percussion, wind, high-pitched, amplified and loud instruments. All other instruments can be played on the left bank of the Vltava River during odd hours, and on the right bank during even hours, only on sites where performance is not forbidden. Busking Un/Limited is a documentary play by the Spielraum Kollektiv which moves public space into a theatre. The Archa Theatre becomes the streets of Prague, audience members become residents and they experience crucial moments and problems of busking in Prague. The main theme is the luxury of free performance in public space and the thin line of its misuse for commercial purposes.

street art

Stolen Gallery. Experimental Street Art Project »

The Stolen Gallery uses public noticeboard cabinets for art exhibitions. It began in 2010 with an empty noticeboard on a house in Český Krumlov that was stolen shortly after. Today, the gallery has more than ten branches, mainly in Central Europe. It set up in Milan, Italy, in 2015 and in New Delhi, India, in 2017. While the format of the exhibition space is similar for all branches, and it corresponds with the format of the noticeboards, its mobile or static character varies in every city. The mobile character allows artists to set up the exhibition in a different place each time; the location of the noticeboard cabinet and its movement can be part of the concept, or the art itself. The most active branches are trying to stick to a regular weekly cycle of exhibitions.


Obstacle. A Series of Performances in the Public Space »

Julian Hetzel

A series of public interventions called Obstacle creates a rupture in the accelerated flow of city life. It proposes a temporary counter model by creating an interference via a standstill. It is based on a very simple proposition: people lying on the floor. With a group of about 10 local performers a series of images, body arrangements and compositions are created in the public space. These images are a challenge for security and public order since they generate an obstacle within the pulse of functional streets. Idleness, standstill, and deliberate collapse are responses to progress, growth, and acceleration. Everything is under control. If you lie down, you can’t fall anymore.


Situationism and the Genesis of Performance Art »

Tomáš Kubart

The city is a scene for the everyday, but since the beginning of the 20th century artists have been trying to make it a stage for confirming their own identity. And, because a stage is where ever an actor decides to make it so, the city became one when the representatives of Russian futurism or German expressionism decided to act on its streets and squares. The city changed our lifestyle and the nature of art itself. How did the city influence the course of art performances; what was the impact of social changes after the Second World War? How is one supposed to “act” in a city; how is one to create situations? French situationism has been trying to find answers to these questions since the 1950’s.


A Map of Visual Pollution »

Veronika Rút Nováková

Visual pollution is not some kind of incantation uttered only by uptight crypto-fascist designers, but a thing that (de)forms our perception, impairs our sense of orientation, and lowers the profitability of shops on a daily basis. The project examines visual pollution and the overgrowth of distasteful advertising on Masarykova street in Brno. Based on theoretical research a set of diseases of shop signs was created and with it a guide to recognizing and naming them. Points were then allocated to individual retail stores and the most common issues identified. These were ‘information chaos’, ‘epidemic of signs’ and ‘disrespect to architecture’ of the building.


News in the Development of Glass Partitions and Their Profiles

Tomáš Habel


Building Insulation – Fire Safety News 2

Isabela Bradáčová, Tereza Česelská


BIM, Part One: Design, Construction, Operation

Petr Vaněk

completed project

Relict. Office Building Five in Prague »

Pavel Fanta, Jiří Řezák, David Wittassek / Qarta Architektura

The office building with commercial units on the ground floor was built near Smíchov riverfront, on the site of a former tram depot. The street fronts of the original infrastructure building were preserved with only small adjustments creating a base for the new seven-story development. The design capitalizes on the contrast of the original heavy masonry structure and the new, delicate glass facade screened off by a mesh of perforated metal. There are commercial units and catering facilities on the ground floor and rentable office spaces in the rest of the building.

ERA21 vydává ERA Média, s. r. o.
Chleborádova 69/22, 619 00 Brno

Phone: +420 530 500 801
Projekt se v roce 2024 uskutečňuje za finanční podpory: Ministerstva kultury ČR, Nadace české architektury, Statutárního města Brna a Státního fondu kultury ČR.
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