Raoul MAREK: Works for public spaces.

Raoul MAREK: Works for public spaces.
Raoul Marek's public works are interactive, participatory, and rely on exchange and sharing. The artist uses every mean to make his work alive while encouraging social and cultural interaction. The concept and the artistic creation are directly inspired by the context. So each site will dictate a specific answer.

In the artist's words: "each project requires a fresh site-specific creation", not a stereotyped object.

In order to do so, Raoul Marek explores many forms of artistic expression, materials, techniques, ways of communication,  which he uses for different locations and purposes with the same degree of intensity and  uniqueness. The ultimate goal is that the work is completely integrated into its own environment. This strong vision was already present in his public art projects at Berne's university in 1986 and at the Sierre hospital (in Switzerland) in 1996, and, in France, at Oiron in 1993, and at the Lavoir de Phlin in 2001. At these sites Marek takes into consideration how both the physical and the cultural context influence how the work is perceived and experienced on a large scale. The result is not a rigid and obvious solution, but the creation of  a series of connections and networks that will incorporate people's participation, another most important element in his work.

For instance, in the project he started in Oiron for the Salle du Monde in l993, the artist  organized a series of dialogues and consultations with 150 local people who have become participants in an annual feast where the unique tableware has been designed for them by Raoul Marek. It includes 150 porcelain plates, each one decorated with a silhouette portrait of one of the participants, and place settings and glasses bearing each person's initials and handprint.  This work, born out of discussions with the people of Oiron and their decision, is an invitation to share a yearly ritual which has been recurring for the last 18 years. The rest of the year, the tableware is installed, portrait-gallery style, in one of   rooms of the château of Oiron, transforming it into an exhibition site open to the public.

A similar but slightly different project was conceived by Raoul Marek for the city of Berne (Switzerland) in 2004. Because of it,  ties of friendship have been woven between this community and the people of Oiron. The artist is thereby creating two levels of interaction:  one at the local level in each community, the other - wider and more complex - connecting two distant towns and two different cultures.
This quest is also what led the artist to create another project in France at the Ecole Mallarme in the Ile de France region. Started in the year 2010 and for several months, the artist worked at developing an artistic intervention with groups of 10 to 12-year old students at four different schools. The purpose was to bring together students from different socio-economical backgrounds around one artistic creation.

Raoul Marek's own thesis is that: color symbolism is imprinted into each child's imagination, but can also vary in relation to a child's cultural and social environment, the child's age and own sensitivity, so that the perception of color can be influenced by both the environment and the child's own personality.

For this project, each child paints a monochromatic picture using a color of his/her own choice. The picture is then sent to a child in another school. Students in each school then work on a collective artwork. Based on the principle of "giving and receiving" this exchange creates an artistic network inviting  participants to discover one another through both their own individuality and their cultural environment. The final product of this exchange is an exhibition in a public space ? i.e. a cultural center or a museum ? of an artwork created by Raoul Marek which results from the interactive process and work of the children from the different schools. This exhibition creates an opportunity for parents and children from the different schools and backgrounds to meet one another in a common meeting place.
Raoul Marek was born in Canada in 1953 of parents from the Tcheck Republic and Switzerland.  He now lives and works in Berlin and Paris. 

Photo caption : Round Table - Monument to Freedom and Democracy - a proposal by Raoul Marek for an international competition in Berlin, 2009.

Contact: Raoul Marek