Even a small rural town needs its social sculpture

Finnish community artist and project researcher, Saija Mustaniemi from Satakunta University of applied sciences visited in June 2018 He-art partners in northern Italy.

Mustaniemi executed applied public art workshops for children, elderly people and for special groups. Mustaniemi also lectured about public and participatory art and its best practices from the region of Kankaanpää, especially themes connected the collection of public art in Kankaanpää, the Circle of art, Taidekehä.

The community artist also gathered material and information for to execute an installation later on in the theme of social sculpture.

Social sculpture is a term of Joseph Beuys, which means of expanding the notion of sculpture to the whole community, for example, the city’s activities. Social sculpture can also refer to a work of art that determines meeting place and brings people together.

A good example of such a work is city well or a fountain. For the original purpose, city well has offered a lifeline to citizens, by handing out clean water. Later, city wells have gained aesthetic and position-definable meanings. From the very beginning, city well has been a notion of urbanism, social comfort, and a symbol of wellbeing.

Within the framework of International Circle of art (he-art) -Leader project, Saija Mustaniemi traveled to Italy in early June 2018, to visit this promised land of city wells and fountains. Also, to explore the best practices of Italian project partners and to explore more deeply symbols and locations of social art.

In the Italian small, rural towns, the Finnish community artist realized repeatedly that Kankaanpää is truly a city of rural art. In Kankaanpää there are a school of art, an art museum, an art gallery, more than 100 public work of art. There are development for participatory art, guiding art, well-being art, art education going on, but a social sculpture, people gathering city well or fountain is missing.

Can a city be a true art city without such a clear and historic monument of urban culture?  Where do people gather, and what can they announce as a common meeting place? Can the city be a true art city without its socially bubbling centerpiece?

Rome has the Fontana di Trevi, Havis Amanda is in Helsinki, the world’s highest fountain can be found in Saudi Arabia, and it sprays water over the Red Sea.

Fountains have always had and still have the potential to bring people together, exert political power and astonish people with new technological innovations.

The story of more social, public art will exceed and continue in rural Kankaanpää…

  • Saija Mustaniemi, community artist, project researcher, SAMK, Fine Art Kankaanpää
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