If there was art everywhere

Public space has the potential to be a place where art is experienced. It’s neither a gallery where works are put up for sale nor a museum that requires effort to visit. Artist Rune Bosse understands this opportunity and strives to bring art closer to the public

Art could become a natural part of where we meet and drink coffee together, of where we simply move about in our everyday lives.  Often, art doesn’t require close inspection, but simply needs to be present in the public space, just like you and I might be. It doesn’t need to be accompanied by explanations or require any prior knowledge to make sense. It just needs to be available, to be touched, approached, and gazed upon.

Rune Bosse is one of the few artists committed to bringing his art into the public sphere. As a student at the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts, but currently living in Berlin, his project Enter. Exit. involved the installation of framed doors in the public sphere and in nature.

The project started when he became interested in how an object’s meaning related to its function. He deconstructed objects and recombined them in new settings. This process of isolating objects from their function became a game in which he broke down the world and built it up again as he pleased. Doors proved to be interesting objects to work with because their function is so clear. They separate rooms and are always placed within walls.

So was it possible to separate doors from their deeply embedded function?

Bosse started out in 2010 by placing two doors in natural environments in southern Zealand and three in Copenhagen. In 2012, he placed two more doors in Højbro Plads in the city centre during Copenhagen Art Festival, which were later shown at the 2013 Copenhagen Art Fair. The same year, he placed doors on Sønder Boulevard in Copenhagen, where they stood until they were removed in April 2014, probably by the city council.  Since many in the neighbourhood had enjoyed them, some wonder why they were removed and where they were taken.

Placing art in the public sphere requires permission from the relevant authorities, but Bosse has chosen to bypass the bureaucracy.

“I have done many projects in the public sphere, and have experienced that obtaining permission is often far more laborious than the creation of the work itself. I have never been granted permission; instead, I’ve been sent from one institution or authority to the other, because no one wanted to take responsibility for it. In the end I realised that it was easier to just go ahead and do it, even if the work ended up disappearing.”

There are many forces affecting the permanence of his installations. In 2010, two days after placing his first pair of doors between the lakes on Gyldenløvsgade, the police called him and told him to remove them, claiming they were a traffic hazard. He chose to take down four other doors within a few months, as they weren’t designed to withstand the weather.

“Perhaps one day, there may be so much art in the public sphere that we are no longer able to determine whether what we are looking at is a sculpture or a pile of rubbish. And in reality, that isn’t so important. What’s important is how we regard the world around us, that we get lost in our imagination and start to realise the opportunities and poetry it provides,” Bosse says.

This dream isn’t necessarily about departing from reality, but about seeing the opportunities that lie within it, and daring to imagine the surreal. At first, the two-dimensional doors created doubt about what lay behind them. Our minds are so conditioned to believe that doors open into other rooms, that we start to imagine it, daydream it. Bosse himself sees the doors as portals to another world – a place into which you can exit or enter. This illusion disappears as soon as you pass through the door and find that the world is exactly the same on the other side. But is it really? Because as you step through the door, expecting to enter another room, you arrive looking at the world as though it were different. And perhaps, coloured by this curious gaze and expectation, you start to notice things that you might not have otherwise – and the world becomes different after all.

Bosse’s work challenges the idea that we know everything – that our world is planned, predictable, and boring. Art can create impulses that we don’t expect and sharpen our focus. It may even prompt us to look back at ourselves and see something new.

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