Jaume Plensa: An Interview

2005 | 00:58:43 | United States | English | Color | Mono | 4:3 | Video

Collection: On Art and Artists, Interviews

Tags: Chicago Art, City, Interview, Sculpture

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Spanish artist Jaume Plensa (b. 1955) creates sculptures and installations that intend to unify individuals through their relationship to memory, the body, and spirituality. Often referencing literature, psychology, biology, and history, his practice speaks of a shared humanity despite the world’s complexity. In this way, language acts as a metaphor, and the human figure a universal symbol. Plensa is perhaps best known for works that engage groups of people in public spaces. His monumental projects in New York’s Madison Square Park and Seattle’s Olympic Sculpture Park, for example, have offered opportunities for reflection, silence, and engagement with a collective humanism.

In this interview, Plensa provides an in-depth examination of his public work Crown Fountain, located in Chicago’s Millennium Park. He begins by contemplating the role of both public art and a public fountain in the 21st Century, as opposed to art exhibited in museums or gallery spaces, Plensa notes that public art needs to respond to its context differently. Namely, it needs to be hyper aware of its site. This work takes the form of a fountain, he says, because of a fountain’s relationship with water, life, and history. Crown Fountain also acts as an archive of the people living in the city, incorporating video documentation of over one thousand Chicago residents. Plensa speaks of the significance of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in helping realize the videographic component of his project. This was instrumental, he says, in giving the project its “energy.”

— Jake Matthews

A historic interview conducted in 2005 and edited in 2013

Interview by Alan Labb

Camera by Kate Horsfield

Edited by Charles Rice