Morning Keynote: Public Art, Public Space

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The Paramount Theater in Boston, Massachusetts

Photo Credit: Archive Mischa Kuball, Düsseldorf / VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn, 2016

Mischa Kuball, Installation Artist and Photographer •

Mischa Kuball spoke about public preposition (, a group of works, interventions, projects and performances made over a period of several decades. (Among these are: The Ghost Tram in Katowice, Poland, 2013;Solidarity Grid in Christchurch, New Zealand, 2013; intervento in Venice, Italy, 2009; para1, which was unveiled at Emerson College in Boston, Massachusetts, as part of TransCultural Exchange’s 2016 International Conference on Opportunities in the Arts; and many more.) What they have in common is that they appeal to the public sphere and implicitly question in what locations and under what circumstances the term “public” is constituted and how it should be understood. Many of these interventions and projects were temporary in nature and only exist in photo documentation. Others were deliberately conceived as more ephemeral, with a limited visibility even in terms of their local appearance. In this sense, public preposition points to a fundamental contradiction of the public sphere: on the one hand, it sees itself as unlimited, but on the other, the audience of an intervention or event – its viewers and participants – is objectively limited. For this reason, to introduce public preposition in a publication of its own, to discuss and to document it must itself be seen as a gesture toward creating a public and including individual projects in a larger context.

[1] Boston’s Paramount Theater opened in 1932 as one of the first sound film cinemas in the region. After its closure in 1976, the area developed increasingly into a red-light district, until Emerson College was established there in 2008. As a private school for art and communication, the site experienced a lasting reformulation, which Kuball makes visible with his temporary light installation. In the evening hours, projected façade elements that were recorded in large metropolises worldwide illuminate the arched window of the former movie theater, which – since 2010 – is the seat of the Faculty of Performing Arts. The exposure values of the images are in turn rendered into a beam of light that connects the Performing Arts building with the empty building opposite and literally engages the concept of gentrification in a positive light. Through the manipulation of the Paramount sign, the letters PARA are brought to a new legibility. The reinterpretation of the site is thus not just symbolically visualized; rather it is also linguistically anchored via the Greek prefix “para” (next to, different).