Living is public | TEOBALDO LAGOS PRELLER

Interview by MODESTA DI PAOLA

 

Why public art?

Because there is hardly a dimension of art which is not public. The Atelier is for sure a private place without which we couldn’t imagine any creative process taking place. You need a certain grade of isolation or concentration to plan or achieve a project. Desire moves us in order to crystallize our work, put our action or our piece in a space like an archive, nature, the city or an exhibition space, or to trigger a social process through which the work is recognized as such.

On the other side, I think we all share some sort of common right to subjectivity, which is the level of language, thinking and interacting that is based on the most basic formulations: I/we want, I/we do, I/we say, I/we share. These simple sentences allow us to produce change and they are decisions which an individual or a collective take in order to generate a new fact. That’s why art is public: because it’s intention and then experience; and then something else gets done and something else is transformed. And then it becomes sooner or later a common experience, a common way of feeling or thinking. And then these already common things might disappear. Art helps to develop new languages and modes of perception. Public art triggers their absorption in order to feel the present.

 

Who is the “public” in public art?

The public is the viewer, the spectator but this is the simplest image. There are layers of reality in which this agent is active and others in which s/he can’t see, hear, read, act. I think these are defined by class, gender, ethnical origin, the construct of race, disabilities, biography and perception, situations of danger or safety, etc. The “public” should be we. But what is its form, what or who is we? Where or when are we? Are we all we? The dimension of transit is in this sense crucial and the image could be the one of the thousands of people trying to cross the sea in order to get to Europe or people walking through long, crystalline, peaceful corridors in a European airport in order to come anywhere. Who is the subject of each image?

What is the “art” in public art?

The recognition of life as a field of practice and transformation. This is a sort of “mystical” point I value the most, because it allows engagement. This might sound personal. Living is public.

Where is the space for public art?

Everywhere. Even private spaces are. The space of art is the medium of interaction between all actors involved in generating a fact of public concern. This doesn’t necessarily mean a “responsibility” of always touching the public, but naming or signaling new forms of living through material or immaterial, sometimes monumental or visual presence. Space emerges as a figure during the realization of an art experience. The place for it is now – the only place in which you can find the past and the future at the same time.

When is it public art?

In a Momentum. When times collide and allow us to see through time. Then we can share and get in touch. Art works as a form of crystallization or sedimentation of collective feelings and ideas, it turns around and displaces centers, it is a space for negotiation and correlatibility. This goes beyond the producer with the help of languages of low intensity, in terms of its permanence and remembrance: we see and we read afterwards, after tension or after sleeping. The “public” in public art is a conflagration of frequencies, impulses: intensity is given through time and experiencing it inside of our common spaces (not always, not for all, though it may sometimes seems so).