RE/placing public art : the role of place specificity in new genre public art
This research is an exploration of the development and influence of place-specificity within the field of new genre public art. Over the last several years the term place-specificity and its variance, place-specific has occurred frequently in art reviews and exhibition catalogues particularly in relation to installations, permanent public art works, and public interventions. While place-specificity is now a recognised term in the current lexicon of public art discussion, within many texts the phrase place-specific is often indiscriminately interchanged with site-specific, implying that the two terms are synonymous. While the relationships between site, space, and place are actively explored within fields such as geography,cultural studies and architecture, distinctions between site-specificity and place-specificity have rarely been critically addressed in discussions of public art. Based on both theory and curatorial practice, this thesis explores a range of perspectives on the role of place within socially engaged public art practice. The study examines the difference between site and place and how place influences our perceptions of specific locations through memory, history and experience. The thesis explores place as a subject, an artistic influence, and a social and cultural signifier. Also examined is how artists use place as a means of connecting to specific locations and audiences, as well as a way of exploring their personal histories and memories. Utilising a combination of approaches, this study incorporates naturalistic enquiry, conversation as a method, a think-tank, interviews, and video documentation to uncover how a group of public art practitioners reflect on place-specificity within their work, how they utilise place, and are influenced by place. The research reflects on the potential of place-specific public art to celebrate unique cultural differences, inspire international collaboration, and provide a forum for local distinctiveness in the face of globalization The study also serves as one model for practice-based research utilising curatorship as a practice. This study identifies further areas for potential research within various aspects of art and design as well as other disciplines. The thesis is accompanied by a suite of DVD's which document the curatorial practice and address place-specific themes that emerged from the research.