For the past 10 years, Johan Zetterquist has been working on a project called 'Proposals for Public Art', in which he through various media reflects on the possibles and impossibles related to artistic representation for and of the public domain. As a reaction to the usual issues attached to commissioning and executing 'public art', resulting in bland and apolitical or politically correct works, Johan takes his absurd and politically incorrect ideas very seriously, realizing them in the form of proposals presented in the way such would be submitted to an open call or competition.
By re-appropriating common, functional environments such as those found along highways, or even the highway itself, and simply proposing to highlight their physical and aesthetic qualities, Johan Zetterquist asks fundamental questions about their status and meaning in a broader humanistic sense. His 'proposals for public art' are often based around objects so generic and lacking of site specificity that the absurdity of the proposal becomes a driver, a machine that never stops jerking as long as we still consume, drive, construct and build fences. In a further perspective, we as viewers are confronted with dystopic images, glimpses of scenarios where these mundane sites appear as poetic fragments of a bygone era of human dillusion and hubris.
As well as they can be physical, 'proposals for public art' can be highly theoretical, or at least hypothetical. In a simple statement, presented as solid block-shaped letters against a white background, framed, a new thought presents itself. Highly banal yet thought-provoking, the black letters serve the only purpose of playing a tune in repeat in our ears that is incompatible with the way society is currently modulated.
Or as put by Judith Manzoni: "In an art world overflowed with the use of violent, shocking or scatological imaginary, the use of intelligent humour and meaningful absurdity arises as surprisingly subversive, as an intellectual art that playfully criticizes the comfortable approval of the status quo while making no concessions to political correctness."
Proposals for Public Art', IFP Studio Saturday 14th December, 6 pm
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