We at The New England Journal of Aesthetic Research would like to explain a bit more about our thinking as we seek nominations for the Worst Public Art in New England and organize a movement to get it removed:
We believe long-term public art has a greater responsibility to the community, to the public, than regular gallery art. Gallery art can afford to be more crazy, acid, painful, antisocial, or just plain bad because our experience of it is temporary. But long-term public art, like architecture, is something we have to live with. And usually we, the public, have no say over what public art or architecture we have to live with. That does not mean we want public art or architecture with no teeth (bland saccharine toothless stuff is one of the major failings of public art), but that it generally should be a companionable beast.
A key aspect of public art that is often left out is the public. Usually the public is not involved in choosing public art; that decision is given to small committees or individuals or private businesses. Individuals or small groups are often best for selecting great art, so we’re not trying to change the selection process.
We also believe that public art – even works we hate – should be given a chance. Years. Sometimes it takes a while for something to grow on you. Sometimes it takes a while just to figure something out. Sometimes something that looked cool at first becomes trite. Or it breaks down.
But we believe that after giving public art a fair shot, the public has the right to impeach bad public art. We don’t mean for bad public art to be destroyed. Just removed. Perhaps some other community would benefit from some quality time with it. And new public art should take the place of the impeached work.
So we ask you for your nominations of the Worst Public Art in New England. Please e-mail us your choice – preferably with photos – of the worst of the worst. We’ll share the nominations at The New England Journal of Aesthetic Research – and then select one work that is particularly lousy. And launch a campaign to have it removed. Please join us in this noble democratic effort.