Searching For Public Space

Clinton Ave Public Space, February 2008

Clinton Ave Public Space, February 2008

Americans are either in their cars, in their homes, or in shopping malls.

The sense of public space in the contemporary American city is so exceptionally abbreviated it seems that I am able to pass to and from work without ever really having to navigate a truly “public” place.  I get up in the morning, and pass from my house to an abandoned street of private homes and get onto a bus that systematically seals me off from the public sphere passing outside. When I arrive at work, I migrate upwards into the sky-ways and am deluged by an array of private interests and intentions – starting with some corporate architect’s premeditated control of my movement and ending with the various retail establishments that pull me in to spend money.

There is never a sense of openness, possibility, or social exchange in the mock public environment I’m surrounded by. I guess I’m comparing this to the various public spaces I’ve spent time in – The Zocalo area in Mexico City or Central Park or the Museum Plein in Amsterdam. There is something that is distinctly lost when public space is mutated and downsized as it is in Minneapolis. Supposedly there is a new public space opening up – Target Plaza… next to Target Field… next to the Target Center.

Does it bother anyone else that we are so willing to have our open forum spaces co-opted by a corporation’s private PR interests?

With the above thoughts in mind, I intend to actually start doing some work again (keeping in mind, I can’t really make any prints until this time next year). A couple of goals for this project/direction:

  1. Research the history of the corporate sponsorship of art, architecture, and the public sphere.
  2. Photograph the spaces that constitute public space, in its abbreviated and shrunken state.
  3. Intervene in the dialog between the accessibility and inaccessibility of the public and private, corporate and free.
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