This is the full year's collection of responses. Please visit columbuspublicart.com/project.php?project=zweig for more details about the program and sponsors.
On Saturday evening, June 8, 2013, in the parking lot at 88 E. Broad Street, TRANSIT ARTS presented a free hip-hop dance performance before premiering our video created in response to the "Columbus never..." public art project, which was part of Finding Time: Columbus Public Art 2012.
Created by artist Janet Zweig, "Columbus never..." is a generative sentence written by the people of Columbus that was placed phrase-by-phrase on a blank wall behind Key Bank at 88 E. Broad Street during the Columbus bicentennial.
The first five words of the sentence — "Columbus never came here, but" — were written by Zweig and installed in spring 2012. She invited the public to contribute to the sentence by suggesting phrases that built on the developing sentence. The wall is now filled with text written by the public. The 50-minute video features a diverse array of more than 100 citizens, downtown workers and residents, street preachers, TRANSIT ARTS performers, participants in downtown parades and festivals, out-of-town visitors, and a man and his dog.
Generative text can tap into an unconscious that often discovers hidden, insightful poetic, and sometimes humorous truths. The new phrases chosen by Zweig were from online submissions from people who live, work, or visited Columbus. Installed at approximately two-week intervals, the choices depended on words that created the possibility of one meaning that could shift with the addition of subsequent words. The goal was to change the meaning each time a new section was added, in an attempt ultimately to capture the soul of Columbus, as described by its residents. Columbus' statement about itself was writ large over the course of the year. Since the sentence was gradually generative, what Columbus had to say about itself collectively wasn’t revealed until spring 2013.
As the generative sentence developed on the wall behind Key Bank, TRANSIT ARTS came to the site twice a month to record live responses to the existing text. On each occasion, they set up a small stand and positioned a video camera to capture speakers from the same vantage point. Passersby were coaxed into “... participating in a public art project on YouTube.” Participants were asked to speak the words written on the wall at that time and then complete the sentence with whatever came to mind. Comments ranged from one-word additions to paragraph-long musings on the state of the city. When pedestrian traffic was slow, TRANSIT ARTS' youth offered their own conclusions to the generative sentence, and on occasion gave the dynamic dance performances for which they are well known. The segments were edited into a time-lapse recording of how Columbus saw itself in 2012 and early 2013. The video was filmed and edited by TRANSIT ARTS artist Keo Khim with assistance from TRANSIT ARTS youth apprentice artists. TRANSIT ARTS freestyle artist Jai Carey is a constant voice throughout the series, providing a free-flow of words inspired by the creation of Janet Zweig and our community.
"Columbus never..." and the collaboration with TRANSIT ARTS are one of the 12 art projects that comprised Finding Time: Columbus Public Art 2012, which took place in public spaces, plazas, parks, streets, and alleys throughout the downtown during the bicentennial year. The program transformed downtown into an open-air gallery with temporary public art projects by more than 50 international, national, and local artists. Reflecting the broad range of contemporary public art in multiple forms and media, projects range from the familiar—sculpture and murals—to unexpected installations, sound works, and performances in non-traditional sites, including COTA buses and church bells. These site-specific artworks explored the physical and philosophical measurement of time, generating questions on the notion of time, passing of time, use of time, measurement of time, the chronology of life, world time, and the notion of temporary and permanent.
TRANSIT ARTS: young artists on the move, is a youth development program of Central Community House and the Columbus Federation of Settlements, and works in partnership with the Ohio Alliance for Arts Education. The program enlists young people, ages 12-21, in intensive programs of coaching/mentoring by outstanding professionals from the creative industries.
All sponsors, partners, and collaborators for Finding Time: Columbus Public Art 2012 are available at ColumbusPublicArt.com. Artist information and more details are also available on the website.