AHO Logo


Public art : urban learning 

  • Myrvold, Charlotte|

This thesis is about the role of public art in the urban redevelopment of Bjørvika on the seaside of Oslo. The cultural-led approach to the area transformation has occasioned a public art programme embedded in the redevelopment process. The question of the role of art in urban development raises fundamental issues regarding the status of art when it appears in a context where its function is articulated from aesthetic, political, social and economic perspectives. The concern of this thesis is the reconfiguration of the areas’ public caracter. Its particular approach positions art as a practice that enters processes that reconfigure what we perceive as public. The thesis applies perspectives from philosopher Jacques Rancière, which enables a discussion of the redevelopment as not only changing the area physically, socially and economically, but also acting upon our perception of it. The thesis argues that by displaying a variegated set of experiences in public, art generates knowledge about dimensions in the city that otherwise remain unarticulated. When doing so, art is discussed as performing an epistemological critique of the redevelopment and as enabling new forms of urban learning. The approach of the study is empirical and theoretical. It discusses a selection of art projects in relation to a theoretical framework foremost consisting of aesthetic philosophy, art theory and urban theory. The question addressed by this study is how do forms of knowledge manifested in art interact with public space production? The study adopts a wide understanding to public space production and outlines four areas of public space production that art interacts with. These includes the image of place, the understanding of site, the use of public spaces and the creation of social spaces. The interest in the use of public spaces and the creation of social spaces. The interestin the aesthetic character of art’s intervention is at the center og the discussions that the thesis engages in and the particularity of distinct artistic interventions in the city are addressed. With this thesis, I make contributions on four levels. It draws new connections between public art practices, aesthetic philosophy, urban theory and epistemology. The thesis identifies applied qualities in art beyond the roles ascribed to art in cultural strategies and outlines ways in which public art unfolds as a knowledge field in urban development. Moreover, the thesis demonstrates the necessity to discuss art’s aesthetic intervention in the city and develops critical approaches that engage with art’s ability to inhabit multiple and even contradictory positions. Finally, the aesthetic philosophical perspective applied renders visible ways in which art intervenes in the reconfiguration of the perception of the area by displaying alternative forms of site knowledge in public. In doing so, the thesis positions public art as a practice that participates in the production of publicness in Bjørvika.

Myrvold, C.(2017). Public art : urban learning . AHO CON-TEXT / Thesis 90 (2017)