Assessment of the Art Programme of Expoagua 2008

This initiative takes its inspiration from other projects, such as Expo Lisboa 1998 which was devoted to the oceans. Thanks to that Expo, it was possible to carry out the restoration of the Tagus banks along the city, with nearly twenty art works commissioned by Antonio Manuel Pinto and Antonio Mega Ferreira spread mainly in the so-called "Park of the Nations". But, Zaragoza, decided not to concentrate the works of art in a park of sculptures next to the Expo, but also in nearby areas, as Barcelona did for the Olympic Games in 1992. Barcelona decide to scatter the works by the Olympic City, the Barceloneta District and the old town, with eight sculptures commissioned by Gloria Moure to internationally reputed artists which formed part of the project "Urban Shapes". Taking into consideration those precedents, Pablo Rico was at first nominated as "art consultant", and, after him Antonio Latorre and Francisco Javier Galán under the supervision of Francisco Pellicer as Director of Contents of Expoagua. But, in Zaragoza, the decision power was not left in the hands of only one organizer, but works were chosen by a jury composed of political authorities and experts in contemporary art, through a public bid. Sociedad Expoagua Zaragoza 2008 called the bid in August 2006. 130 proposals were received and 12 of them selected, even though, in accordance to the conditions, other renowned artists and teams were invited to take part in a limited and paid contest, from which other 8 projects were chosen.

A total of 20 works of art were built, with a budget of 8 million euros (coming from the 1% of the item devoted to culture from the Ministry for Culture, the Ministry for Promotion, and the Ministry for Environment, and Rural and Maritime Environment). In general, the assessment of this important contribution to the public art of Zaragoza has been very positive, even though it exists among local artists a certain feeling of suspicion due to the scarce number of their works selected. Their projects were immediately rejected without any nicety, whereas other artists were invited to correct or change them completely, following the instructions of the people responsible. But, we must admit that, seeing the results, the twenty works of art selected are totally coherent with one or several of the eight typologies initially proposed in the conditions: 1. Specific Site Works with a high environmental value, highlighting the capacity for a dialogue art-nature. 2. Works for being integrated in natural or slightly developed environments, with public and interactive use: leisure zones, viewpoints, areas for playing, etc. 3. Works to solve different linking problems: between natural environment and urban layout, "controversial" areas of separation between different architectural and development projects, zones of massive or marginal access such as car parks, etc. 4. Huge sculptures. 6. Works with a big visual or textual communication power of communication such as display... 7 Average or small size sculptures strictly for mass production in vast areas. 8. Immaterial projects: light projections, big audiovisual projects, visual and textual messages, repertoire of photos and/or external projections, interactive sound works, etc.