Revistes Catalanes amb Accés Obert (RACO)

PUBLIC ART - Discovering Porto's public art. An experience of conducting routes of interpretation on public sculpture collections

José Guilherme Abreu


Having studied Public Contemporary Sculpture for about ten years as an Art Historian, one of the issues that ever interested me was the harsh theme of the public reception of public contemporary sculpture.
As Siah Armajani pointed out in his Manifest, I believe that Public Sculpture plays a quite relevant role in modern society, for, as Amajani says, “Public sculpture attempts to fill the gap that comes about between art and public, to make art public and artists citizens again.”
Many and difficult problems rise when a researcher intends to develop a public survey on Public Sculpture reception. What kind of inquiry should be adopted? What interpretation methodology should be used? How should the researcher approach the public? I started by reading some specialized literature about direct inquiry methodology, but I found its approach quite inductive and impersonal, even if from the start I only considered the use of qualitative inquiry methods4, such as those followed by Clark Moustakas.
Also, I became much interested on the use of indirect methods like Natalie Heinich and other French researchers of the socalled Sociologie de la Médiation, or Médiologie, do.
From that literature, I took up their main eidetic assumptions, and start thinking about how could I engage a theoretic and pragmatic approach that might create enough good conditions, at the same time easy to achieve and capable to give me what I was looking for.
What I was looking for, was how to obtain some direct statements about a few public sculptures, by people that I knew had looked with real attention to some public works.
The opportunity came by when I was invited by Prof. Manuel Janeira and Dr. Luísa Garcia Fernandes from IRICUP to set up a couple of Routes around Porto’s Public Sculpture, after my MA in Porto’s Contemporary Public Sculpture, defended in Porto’s Faculty of Humanities. At once, I saw there a possibility of getting some direct and reliable statement.

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