The Public Bench
Coventry, UK 2004
The Public Bench by Jochen Gerz is the second work commissioned in 1998 by the Phoenix Initiative regeneration scheme in Coventry. The citizens of Coventry, and visitors to the city, were invited to contribute their name, a second name and a date of their choice. This information was then printed onto a red metal plaque and mounted on the wall behind a 45-metre long bench. The artwork does not limit or alter the bench's function as a public bench.

The reasons for the choice were not revealed. The second name could belong to a person either living or deceased. It could recall a fictitious figure from a novel, a myth, a dream or a fairy tale. In order to understand the inscriptions more fully one had to contribute oneself. Emotions such as sympathy, admiration, support, memory or love determined many choices. Each contribution was one person's choice. Whatever the choice was, it did not need anyone else's approval.

Contributions to the artwork were and are possible after the inauguration. A kiosk at Millennium Place, where the bench is located, gathers contributions and the City of Coventry is continuing to install new plaques on The Public Bench. More than 2000 plaques covered the wall behind the bench when it was inaugurated in January 2004.

Object: red metal plaques 11.5 x 16.8 cm each.
In cooperation with students from the School of Art and Design of Coventry University, Chelsea School of Art and Design and students from the Art Dept. of Warwick University.
Harpreet Khara
Harpreet Khara