New Public Monuments: Urban Art and Everyday Aesthetic Experience

Sanna Lehtinen 1
  • 1 University of Helsinki,, Helsinki, Finland


The role and function of public art is currently undergoing some large-scale changes. Many new artworks which are situated within the already existing urban sphere, seem to be changing the definition of public art, each in their own way. Simultaneously, there exists a trend that endorses more traditional forms of public art. Juxtaposing and comparing the aesthetic implications of different types of artworks, it is possible to see how they contribute to the contemporary understanding of the urban sphere. In this paper, I take a look at the explicit and implicit aesthetic values that these simultaneously existing contemporary forms of public art are based on. The cases selected for closer look are examples of prominent and recent works of public art from downtown Helsinki: He who Brings the Light (unveiled in 2017) by Pekka Kauhanen and Running Man (performed in 2016-17) by Nestori Syrjala. What space and what kind of position is subscribed to the perceiver by these very different types of yet equally established artworks? What kind of experiences and possibilities of participation do these works entail? The focus is on the undergoing redefinition of public art that revolves around these questions.

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