Artists at Work: Marjetica Potrč (Interview with Berit Fischer)

 

Berit Fischer: Do you think the understanding of public space has changed?

Marjetica Potrč: Yes, the appreciation and understanding of public space has definitely changed. In the 1960s, people celebrated public space, but today people celebrate community space. In the ideology of twentieth-century Modernism, the public space is intended to be for everyone, but, as you know, it often ends up being for no one. Today people no longer dream about living in a big metropolis, they want to live in stronger, smaller parts of the city, in neighbourhoods; in people’s minds the city is shrinking into smaller parts. It is no longer about existing in a city of anonymous individuals. The city, according to our gardening community, is the sum of ‘socially conscious individuals’; they see themselves as part of a community and they like to share, to exchange stories. They exchange knowledge, not only vegetables. The community garden is an actual physical space where residents begin the process of reappropriating the city – at a time when people live in an abstract space of production and democracy is managed from above. It is important for the survival of our cities that the people who live in them feel that they are the city. By cultivating their community garden, the citizens reclaim the city. This is a symbolic process, a ritual.

BF: Maybe the public space needs to be recognised more along the lines of a civil space, a space for communication and the exchange of knowledge?

MP: Yes, I agree. It is always a question of what comes first, the chicken or the egg – the city or the citizens? Of course, it is the citizens. People change the city by reimagining it. Our cities are experiencing a transformation; they are ‘downscaling’ from the idea of the metropolis to much humbler, smaller cities composed of neighbourhoods. There are many reasons why this is happening – for instance, the economic contraction, sustainability questions that need to be resolved on the local level, and so on.

 

[Read the rest of the interview at Afterall]

Posted: December 2nd, 2013
Categories: General Interest, The New Structure
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