Exhibiting Architecture: Percent for Art

Departing from Beverly Buchanan’s environmental sculptures – arrangements of monolithic mounds of concrete and cement that the artist placed throughout Georgia, USA, in the late 1970s and 1980s – this curatorial seminar investigates the notion of “place markers.” In relation to our option entitled Percent for Art, we discuss the term “public art” and its implication for curatorial practice in this seminar. Through various readings and in particular Dolores Hayden’s treatise The Power of Place, we explore strategies to unravel histories of urban landscape and methods to address subject matters, histories and communities ignored by official representation in public art and architecture. Beverly Buchanan’s works challenge spectacularized Land Art and question the autonomy of the Minimal Art object. As elusive, abstract monuments they commemorate the specific history of the places they mark. For instance, Ruins and Rituals (1979) is situated in a park originally dedicated to a pro-slavery author, while Marsh Ruins consists of three mounds made of oyster shell-based tabby concrete, a material of Spanish colonial origin that was used for many plantation buildings and especially slave quarters along the coast of Georgia and Florida. Through our exploration of Buchanan’s public works, we discuss methods of exhibiting art and architecture that address other narratives in urban landscapes. We will research examples of public art that counter official views of history and will examine current societal contexts. In addition, we will work on curatorial programs that not only conceive new public works, but also shed light on existing, sometimes precarious and derelict buildings, which are “homeless in history,” neglected by official agencies of preservation and institutions of cultural memory.