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The Phoenix Initiative Public Bench

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Jochen Gerz was commissioned to develop two artworks, Future Monument and Public Bench as part of Coventry’s Phoenix Initiative; both commissions were based on a process of interactive community engagement.


For Public Bench, Gerz invited local citizens and visitors to the city to give their name together with another name of their choice.  This information was then printed onto a metal plaque and mounted on the back of a 45 metre long bench.  The project was developed in collaboration with the Visitor Centre in Priory Place, which gathered the contributions, and the City of Coventry, which was responsible for the plaques.  The reasons for the individuals’ choices, as well as the identity of the associated names, are not revealed.  The selected second names might belong to people alive or deceased; close friends or chance acquaintances, they might even recall fictitious figures from novels, myths, dreams or fairy tales.  As Gerz explains, ‘in order to understand each couple’s inscription more fully, one has to contribute oneself.’ 


This work is part of the Phoenix Initiative Public Art Programme, curated and managed by Modus Operandi.


Jochen Gerz

Title of work

Public Bench


Coventry City Council





Image credit

© Modus Operandi