Hagen, Målfrid Irene: Art For Pleasure Or For Burden: Visual Art In Public And Semi-Public Spaces

In his book on architecture and sociology in Oslo (1998), the Norwegian sociologist and philosopher Dag Østerberg (1938-2017) describes how architecture may be experienced as a relief or a burden, depending on the cultural knowledge of the users. In a similar way, I use the dichotomy pleasure and burden to describe how people experience visual art in public and semi-public spaces; for example art at work or art placed in public buildings such as schools, hospitals and libraries, or in public parks, public squares, streets and highways, memorial sites, airports, etc. In this paper I discuss: How do people in general, the public art audience, experience art in their everyday life, placed in different kinds of public and semi-public spaces. How does people experience the art? Does it lead to pleasure, enthusiasm and inspiration? Or is it a burden; is it controversial and create media debates, and in that case, how do they appear? Or is it more often indifferent to most people in the current workplace, building or among people passing by?