• Amanda Ross-Ho
  • Mannequin head under construction

As Anish Kapoor can likely attest, once you introduce a work of art into the public realm, the people will claim it as their own. Public art is, by definition, removed from the hermetic atmosphere of galleries or museums, institutions in which the narrative can be controlled. It’s through interaction with the art—in ways ranging from quiet contemplation to poking at it with churros—that the public does the work of imbuing the art with meaning. The art doesn’t exist as an object unto itself. Instead, it’s a tangible piece of a messy world, dependent upon all the different people with whom it shares space. There is no curator on site to construct context, no docent to cultivate understanding, no watchful guard to prevent you from touching. There is nothing to stop you from disregarding the fact that a work is entitled “Cloud Gate” and renaming it after a legume.

And there’s certainly nothing preventing you from photographing it (at least, not anymore).