In what ways are artists, theoreticians, and citizens of the city of Zurich experiencing public space? In what ways are they recounting such experiences? In what ways do works of art as a part of the public sphere reappear in their tales? And what images of public space are being established in such a way?

From October 2009 until June 2010, kunstpassanten invites you, in cooperation with Fabriktheater Rote Fabrik, to take a walk through the city. In the course of different walks – some of them performative, others informative in nature – processes of the development of the public sphere as well as the function of art in improving these processes are being investigated in a critical and playful manner. During discursive situations – also by means of a successful integration of the audience’s voice – artists and theoreticians are invited to present unconventional methods of how to approach the subject matter at hand. Thus, the perception and experiencing of public space is analyzed artistically as well as critically by means of walking and talking.

kunstpassanten is our* effort to introduce a new practice of how art can be exhibited and perceived: instead of a conventional visit to a museum or gallery participants are partaking in guided walks through the public space of the city of Zurich perceived as exhibition space. Every walk is further documented, allowing the possibility of searching our documentation for previous walks and completing them individually. While every walk is primarily addressing citizens and inhabitants of Zurich, they are also well suited for every visitor willing to engage oneself in additional ways of beholding the city from a whole new perspective.

kunstpassanten shall therefore open up new ways of looking at the city of Zurich and its public art. In the light of the fact that quite often works of public art are no longer noticed by Zurich’s inhabitants and eventually buried in oblivion, we are trying to spare them this particular way of disappearance in preserving them by igniting a fresh debate about their presence in Zurich’s public space. In addition, kunstpassanten shall contribute to the discourse on the processes of how public sphere is being developed from the viewpoints of performing as well as fine art.

The fundamental ideas behind the project are, on the one hand, inspired from Lucius Burckhardt’s strollology; on the other, they are based on the research project Art Public Zurich, which had been conducted between 2004 and 2007 by the Institute for Contemporary Arts Research (IFCAR) at the Zurich University of the Arts.

Lucius Burckhardt describes landscapes – and therefore also public space – as constructs, imparted by the media. With this in mind, he understands walks not just as pure representation, but as instruments allowing for a careful perception and a critical analysis of environments.  Through collective walk-taking and a joint effort of recounting, kunstpassanten observes how the public space of Zurich and all works of art involved in its constitution, are perceived by the inhabitants of the city.

The research project Art Public Zurich conducted by the Institute for Contemporary Arts Research (IFCAR) has sparked the cultural-political discussion about Zurich’s policy of public art anew by organizing symposia and realizing a variety of projects. Thanks to a cooperation with the IFCAR, kunstpassanten understands itself as a relevant contribution in the continuation of this discourse.