Arts and culture need a public: as a dynamic interface, a critical group, or to provide affirmation. Some institutions deliberately strive for box-office success, the blockbuster, the exhibition-as-event. Others see their public as a theoretical source of inspiration. In any case, addressing different segments of the public is becoming increasingly important in the strategic positioning of national, as well as international, exhibition venues. But how do artists work with an eye to potential viewers? What role does the public play for them? Can popularity, as a category, ever carry positive connotations? The internationally successful artist is often considered as fitting in with the consensus and is thought of, therefore, as being less critical. Too much success sometimes appears suspect, and popularity definitely runs the risk of being seen as populist. Markus Schinwald and Thomas Trenkler discuss various facets of success and the role the public plays in it.
Markus Schinwald (*1973) is an artist. He lives and works in New York and Vienna. In 2011 Schinwald represented Austria at the 54th Venice Biennale.
Thomas Trenkler (*1960) is a journalist and writer. He lives and works in Vienna. Since 1993 Trenkler has written for the daily newspaper Der Standard for the cultural affairs section.