Latvian equivalent of the term 'public art' reads as 'art in public space' that narrows its semantic scope, pointing towards art's spatial context and disregarding the aspects of communication between art and public, public commission and accessibility. Today the public dimension is often identified with a psychological, not physical spatial construction. It functions not as a real category but more like an ideological artefact, contradictious and fragmentary structure, and politicised social product. The development of public art leads from bronze monuments, the most familiar 19th-century form of public art, to enlarged models of museum works, set up in urban space and endowed with a decorative function. The further advance continues with site-specific objects where the place becomes the part of artwork. Situationists' and their followers' practice as well as community art practice and manifestations of socially marginalised groups in public space significantly widen the boundaries of public space. In the 1980s the so-called new genre public art arrives on the scene - a new kind of public or social art that is 'not derived from the typology of material, space or artistic medium but rather from the concept of audience, mutual communication and political intent'. The dialogue between the spectator and artist acquires the status of an artwork. Nicolas Bourriaud states that a new communicative language has appeared, based on relational aesthetics, and the artist's role has changed from that of producing an object to offering a service. Conceptualising again the model of white cube, contemporary art offers a laboratory, a platform for interdisciplinary activities often striving to use public space. Human interaction and its social context often becomes the 'raw material' for artists' works based on relational aesthetics. In Latvia there are changes in the mastering of public space as well. During the last decades artists' creative thought has been modified, favouring conceptual solutions, more often realised as short-term projects instead of monumental commissioned works. This article examines three large-scale international projects ('Monument', 1995; 'Ventspils. Transit. Terminal', 1998/1999, 're:public', 2003) that were realised in the public space of Latvia during the last decades
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