Now in its fifth edition, Sculpture in the City is an annual public art exhibition based in London’s Square Mile global financial district. Not dissimilar from other public-minded initiatives of its kind, the event promotes ‘cutting-edge contemporary works from leading artists’ in a collective bid to ‘enhance our urban environment’. With Damien Hirst and Ai Weiwei already confirmed as participants among a roster of 12 other established international and emerging artists, it’s worth thinking about the City as a location in which contemporary art can serve to ‘enhance’.
These days the very utterance of ‘cutting-edge’ art is a bit of a misnomer. Those characteristically familiar forms of ‘shock’ and ‘awe’ are more akin to that sweet yet bland digestive we are all guilty of consuming – though typically without thought. Take those same artworks out of the sanitised white cube, however, place them in a globalised metropolis, and the rate of consumption is arguably more considered.
Whilst some may choose to argue that the display of high-end contemporary art merely adds to the phantasmagoria in a landscape renowned for commercial spectacularisation, a project such as Sculpture in the City diminishes the sense of doubt and embarrassment many people may feel when encountering ‘works of art’. Instead, it creates an open-air arena which promotes unconditioned thought.
In conjunction with the project’s aims, Open-City will host a complimentary educational programming series for local school children in the capital’s innocuous-sounding Cheesegrater skyscraper. Encouraging dialogue, debate and learning about how architecture and public space affects our daily lives, the project as whole strikes a balance between what it is to influence and change the built environment.
“Sculpture in the city” is on view in the City of London from July 9, 2015 to May 2016. Participating artists include Ekkehard Altenburger (Germany); Bruce Beasley (USA); Adam Chodzko (UK); Ceal Floyer (UK); Laura Ford (UK); Damien Hirst (UK); Shan Hur (Korea); Folkert de Jong (Netherlands); Sigalit Landau (Israel); Kris Martin (Belgium); Keita Miyazaki (Japan); Tomoaki Suzuki (Japan); Xavier Veilhan (France); and Ai Weiwei (China).
Words: By Hannah Poulton Photo: Adam Chodzko Ghost 2010 Tamar Project Courtesy of Marlborough Contemporary.