“Art can change life”

5th Porapara Public Art Workshop-2009


This project mainly concerns the everyday life of the inhabitants of Bijoy Nagar, Charbasti, and Dakshinpara locality, artistic research about the areas different life-related context and try to combine the context of reality and the contemporary conceptual art and interdisciplinary process. If it can be done successfully it can bring a noticeable and drastic change in the lifestyle of the inhabitants and set an example about the importance of conceptual art in social development. It will create a new social relation among art, artist, and audience.

Workshop Meeting at Porapara

Porapara Public Art Workshop arranged five art workshops until now. In this journey, many life-related issues are presented here, like- traditional social structure, individual behaviors which exert influence upon the social life (like- marriage. Love-affair, death, diseases), natural equilibrium of the area,nature-related life and livelihood, natural calamities, local and national politics, the effect of world politics upon the area, individual and social entertainment, social and national festivals, human rights and justice in the society and family, spirituality and religion. This is a yearly process. A group of enthusiastic local people regularly monitor different issues of the area in collaboration with the co-coordinator and the artist team of the Porapara Art Space. With the process of searching and monitoring the team of Porapara Art Space select an issue considering its importance in people’s lives, for the next program. At the end of the year, Porapara Art Space invites some artists to join in a workshop. Then, with the presentation of monitored issues and contexts to the artists it starts the workshop. Here, an artist, if he wants, gets help and different advantages from the local people in designing his personal project. On the final day of the workshop, the young people from the three-part of the area arrange an open studio rally, ordaining with artwork and colorful banners and festoons, which rounds five local areas singing popular and local songs, acting, and dancing. The rally is very popular in this area and established as a regular festival. The rally stops on Patenga beach and the people arrange a picnic party there. Besides, there is a cultural program on the beach throughout the day where the local people and the travelers take part. The show of performances and installations of the artists continues throughout the day in the whole area

Porapara public Art Project especially is life and society-related education project which involves the local people with its works. The regular audience of these artworks is mainly the local people and tourists who come to travel to Patenga, Apart from them, the artists of the city and students of the two art institutions of Chittagong regularly visit here. The art admirers of Chittagong get the news about programs through newspapers and art magazines. Almost three thousand people were involved with the open studio program.
The project plays a direct function in the development of lifestyle and social works. Future projects can play a supplementary role in the field of experimental visual art by adding a particular characteristic and specimen. The process is lengthy and the present process of the project runs aiming at a permanent progressive social change. Some talented artists of Chittagong, widely speaking, of Bangladesh, are involved in the project, whose artworks are inspiring the art sphere of Chittagong for the last five years. Therefore, if the public art space wins the award, the large art project will surely become successful.

This is a social art project. This project centers around such a locality where most of the people are not properly educated and live under the poverty line. Besides, the Muslim fundamentalists are very powerful in this area. For this reason, it is very dangerous in this area to continue this type of progressive social work. Besides, here, the project-related artists could not get the proper government and non-government help because these non-traditional artworks are controversial in the mainstream sphere. So, there is a severe risk for the artists career to slip from the guideline of establishment and lose their professional view and enthusiasm

“Key note for the porapara public art workshop-2009”

The temptation to define ‘art’ in clear and certain terms is great. Definitions themselves have varied enormously, of course, from Kantian definitions based on notions of universally recognizable beauty to anthropological claims that art is whatever a particular society deems it to be. Debates about public art have not been immune from this desire to define. Again, specific definitions vary. Lucy Lippard has described public art, for example, as ‘accessible work of any kind that cares about, challenges, involves, and consults the audience for or with whom it was made, respecting community and environment’; while according to Malcolm Miles, public art ‘is a form of street life, a means to articulate the implicit values of a city when its users occupy the place of determining what the city is, and he also suggests that it actively engages with and intervenes in its audiences. Although these definitions are not necessarily compatible, there still seems to be that desire to establish just what public art is.
What would happen, though, if we stopped worrying about how to define public art as if it were a singular entity? There are various reasons for making such an effort. The first, and obvious to all who have engaged with the genre, is that the form and effects of what gets called ‘public art’ – under any definition – vary enormously. Artists do a whole range of very different things, in different locations, with very different effects. (And this has spawned yet more definitions, such as Suzanne Lacey’s ‘new genre public art.) But there are also some more pressing conceptual reasons why we might pause in the search for a definition. Some of these reasons relate to how we think of public art, in particular, its relation to its audiences; others relate to how we think of the artworks themselves. Many of them, though, is forced by the acknowledgment that artworks are always situated in a place. They are always place-specific. The desire to define public art by its practitioners and critics has a paradox at its heart. In one form or another, all definitions of public art assume some kind of involvement in the art by people other than its sponsors, makers, and critics.
Big sculptures in public spaces are out there, among other reasons, on the assumption that the people who pass through those spaces will see the sculpture and in some way be affected by it. Community murals are facilitated in order to involve a group of non-artists in an artistic process. Kids with spray cans are invited to make graffiti art in a gallery. Desks and walls and curtains and flooring are designed by artists for the public. One way or another, the ‘public’ of public art implies the people who receive the art. Yet the consistent desire to define public art never – but never – goes to specific audiences and asks them anything about that art. Instead, knowledge about public art, including its definition, is kept as the exclusive preserve of critics and practitioners.
For an artwork to be public, negotiation between social differences has to be part of what the artwork does. If negotiation among diverse social identities is not invited, then the artwork is not public. But this is a definition that comes to life only through exploring particular artworks in particular places. And it’s a definition that recognizes different forms of that life: strong and weak, emotional or cerebral, representational or not. We hope that by breaking down some of the terms of debate, clarifying them, and putting them back together again in particular combinations, we’ve offered some ways through the maze of public art for understanding its role in relation to place and identity.
This is, then, not a definition of “public art” which draws easy-to-read lines. We don’t think such distinctions can be hard and fast in this way. What makes an artwork public is rather, we argue, dependent on its insertion into and its effects on those complex intersections which go to make up “place”. This is, potentially, quite a demanding proposition. It is a definition of public art that is open to the specificities of place in space and time. In particular, we would argue, for art to be thoroughly public art it needs in some way to engage in constituting that public. At a minimum, in considering a new work, this implies the following:

· a real exploration of the particularity of place where the “place” it may be a neighborhood, or it may be a more precise location;

· an exploration of the “publicness”, or the desired publicness, at issue;

· an understanding of the “role” which it is imagined a work of public art could play in this place. Baldly: why?

· It should be noted that all these steps require time – for exploration, for thinking, for engagement, and on the part of all the participants in the process –curators, artists.

· Finally, to spell out one further implication of our argument, this understanding of public art is interdisciplinary and therefore well suits the collaborative nature of public art projects. However, it does imply that all participants of any project – and particularly the artists – should be involved from the very beginning.

Curator’s note:

Public Art: Considering Art as a basic of the cultural identity of a community, Art happens to be the life-eliminating Expression of an Artist. Art is a visual of the social, political, moral practice and development through surviving the social state of an Artist, which takes place in the words of history synthesizing with time and reality within a cultural periphery. Art has been collaborating with life from the very beginning of human civilization. At times for illustrating lifestyle, or as a state of survival or sometimes as a necessity for social and spiritual needs in addition to living. So many classifications have been made for Art through the ages, like; ‘Art for Life’, or ‘Art for Art’, or ‘Art for Revolution’,

Curator’s note:

or even ‘Art for trade’ and many more. Art is basically a multi-dimensional knowledge process that is quite hard to define in words. Even though, its immense and dimensions it made its definitions naturally critical. We tried to understand and perceive Art through many definitions at different times by different scholars and intellects. The general idea after all these studies brings to a point that Art is an inseparable part of life only realizable from its living chapters. Now the topic is regarding Art of a type of social concern which is considered as Public Art. The public is a human part of a community and the Public in Public Art is generally considered from the urban community. Urban life relates to urban architecture, transports, parks, and trysts. And these historical identities of a city and its characteristic sensations and the importance and illustration of urban life in a nation appearing in an Art is known as Public Art. Generally, Public Art has been practiced in different countries as a testimony of praising their leaders, their political views, lifestyles, and influences. The attempts to dissolve Art with the public and when the public find themselves directly involved with Art can be called Public Art. In this sense, all art is Public Art. But Public Art can be defined under sensitive discretion by the previous examples and explanations. Art is a creative process. Mankind is using the frame of Art as a certain platform for its intellectual enhancements. This search for every emerging new idea drives Art to represent more critical and delicate expressions. Overcoming the intention to create general beauty by Art from the definition by the great artist Kent, Public Art immensely expresses nationalism, revolutionary consciousness, political belief, and geographic identity. So the argument will always remain with Public Art. Despite this fact, the critics and theorists are not at rest. Art critic Lucy R. Lippard articulates; “accessible work of any kind that cares about, challenges, involves, and consults the audience for or with whom it was made, respecting community and environment.” Critic Malcolm Miles states; “a form of street life, a means to articulate the implicit values of a city when its users occupy the place of determining what the city is.” Professor Doreen Massey and Dr. Gillian Rose say; “For an artwork to be public, it needs to invite engagement not only from different groups but between them. It needs to have some potentiality for the negotiation of social differences. The negotiation can be strong or weak. But for an artwork to be public, in our argument, that negotiation has to be part of what the artwork does. If negotiation among diverse social identities is not invited, then the artwork is not public.” The discussion settles on a conclusion that the installations at public places like streets, parks, and squares to enlighten the perception of belief, characteristics of existence, the cultural, geographical, political, and environmental identity of a certain region are examples of Public Art. These characterizations are not enough to define Public Art because it holds; Location History of the place, period of time, environment, situation Public Classifications in community, service, living, existence view, religion Politics, Economy, environmental relationship with life Artist Life of the Artist, philosophy, research, location, people located around and cultural understanding is inseparably related with Public Art. There always remains scope to discuss these varieties. Hence we can come up with some general characteristics of established Public Art; 1. Public Art is organized based on location. So eventually it is site-specific. 2. Public Art comes up with matters related to the community. There ensures the presence of the targeted community from various views. 3. Public Art is a conscious creative attempt where the Artist presents the idea constructed on public emotions and participating with this process amplifies the entire social living standard. 4. The whole process of Public Art is based on time. It is motivated according to the environment and the situations of the social realities.There is a variety of practices with Public Art in the contemporary art practice of the present day. Performance, Installation, Graffiti, Film Screening, Comic, Festoon, Billboard, Banner Holding, Architecture, and many more relevant practices are there with Public Art. These contextual sources are presenting with the differences in the views and conceptions of Public Art. We always want to share our words and logical understandings with the public. Our workshop is arranged in the condition to find the meaning and the best way of presentation to keep the possibilities of this practice, making it easy and interesting to communicate and share with the public. Porapara Public Art Workshop 2009 was arranged with the concept; ‘Art can change a life. How is it possible? How do the general people of the society take art? How art is relevant to their general living? Can we reveal any opinion which can change or help change the general concept of something? Will it consider a specific cast, service, or any architecture or take the overall society as an issue? Is it possible to gain a new practice of easy and peaceful living by searching or trying to change or point out a specific social intention? Workshops will be presenting similar issues and searching the solutions and they will be conducted centering the area of Bijoy Nagar. (Translated by Rihan Ahmed Rafi) Porapara space for artists working with village people collaboratively for this project from 2005, It was a spontaneous initiative between artist and public, porapara just play the capitalistic role to make an understanding between both part. The first public art workshop was taken place in porapara in Dec-2004, 7 artists from Santua Art foundation join with the workshop, It was a 7days long collaborative process-based workshop. The open studio day started with a public rally which was crossed 3 villages on the way to the ending target Patenga sea beach, then people make a picnic,3 artists show their performances on sea beach.

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