The city park is a peculiar form of public space. It is designed for human play and enjoyment. But unlike the street, or the public square, it is resistant to total incorporation by human use. Its paths are wandering, its spaces allow for concealment rather than transparency; it interrupts rationality and routine. And although the park is certainly tamed and framed nature, it continues to harbour the alien and the wild. If Lewis Mumford was right that modern civilization is founded on the mechanical regulation of linear time, the park is a carefully maintained alternative world that remains bound to the cyclical time of nature, and the seductive immediacy of experience.
The artwork in Free Parking engages and imagines the public in a peculiar way. It is premised on an oblique relationship to the world, and the offer of temporal and spatial disjunction for its viewers—as distance, as interruption, as alternative, as refuge. The exemplary champion of aesthetic purity, Roger Fry, articulated an extreme version of this aesthetic ideal as follows: “[Works of art] produce in us a kind of exalted happiness. For a moment there is a clearing in the jungle: we pass on refreshed, with our capacity for life increased and with some memory of the sky.”
Free Parking brings together contemporary artists who have made the park’s framed nature an object of their engagement: as subject matter, as formal or aesthetic model, as setting or ideal space for being public and free at a moment when the ideal of the transparent, rational public sphere has lost its allure or has been infiltrated beyond recognition by commerce.
-Pan Wendt, curator