139 Tremont St.
Boston, MA 02116
In celebration of the Friends of the Public Garden’s 50th anniversary in Boston, famed public artist Janet Zweig will unveil a large, participatory public sculpture – a hand-crafted, double-sided, wooden cabinet with removable illuminated markers that invite discussion about ownership for an installation called “What Do We Have In Common?” beginning Sept. 22 on historic Boston Common until Oct. 22.
“What Do We Have In Common?” is curated by Now + There, a non-profit public art organization bringing temporary, site-specific artworks to all neighborhoods of Boston, and the installation will also be part performance. Boston-based Guides will pull out blue illuminated markers from the cabinet each day and engage passersby in conversation around questions printed on the markers such as: “Who Owns the Moon?” “Who Owns the Shadows?” and “Who Owns Happiness?” “Who Owns the Trees?” At night, the cabinet and markers will glow, lighting up the park as a reminder of the care needed to protect the beauty and dynamism of public spaces that we own in common. “What Do We Have In Common?” will be on view for 30 days.
The cabinet will also serve as a Giving Library for the public to take texts on the theme of shared resources. There will be fiction, poetry, children’s books, and histories of Boston Common, available for all to take and book plates will be signed by Zweig. Reflective of the Common’s rich cultural diversity, 34 of the 200 markers in the cabinet will be in Spanish, Haitian Creole, Mandarin, Cantonese, Vietnamese, and Cape Verdean Creole. Many of the Guides, who will be prompting conversations with the public, will self-identify as Black, Indigenous, and People of Color.
For Zweig, who lived in Boston and Cambridge in the 1980s and now resides in New York, this is her first public art commission in Boston. She has worked in the public art realm since the 1990s, consistently creating work that speaks to environmental issues. While she has created public sculptures, interactive works, and performance, “What Do We Have in Common?” seamlessly brings all three elements together for the first time.