Sunday, September 09, 2007

Art or Garbage? A Photo Essay

What is public space? What do we have a right to do in public space? What is art?
Art or Garbarge? This lovely bow was planted firmly in the middle of a parking lot. Accidental, I'm sure, but somehow charming, as though someone tried to make the parking lot pretty as a birthday present.
I've seen people work on cars in auto part store parking lots. I've seen bright, colorful packaging on green grass before. I'd never seen evidence of car servicing in a University parking lot before.
A subtle adjustment to the environment can create mystery, a sense of adventure. In this case, I still wonder what the story is. How did the traffic cone end up under the river? Was it flung from the bridge? From the bank? Brought there just to see if it floated? Removed from a despised repair site?
One of the things I love about the camera is the way in which you can look places you'd never be able to see otherwise. This is looking down an old pipe, probably a defunct water or sewer pipe, which stands open to the sky in a small downtown are. It never ceases to amaze me, really, the creative ways people find for hiding their garbage. It never ceases to amaze me now lazy and unthinking people are about their garbage: there are garbage pails all over downtown....
This was stencil painted on a downtown traffic signal control box (At least, I think that's what it was; it was near a traffic signal, anyway), and it's a clever little piece. The three masked and big-haired women on a three-person bike, how well-armed they are, the money bags in the bicycle's wire baskets at the back. Again, there's a story here, this time a much more deliberate one. Traffic control boxes don't usually tell stories.
I found another interesting piece of graffitti here (mildly risque), demonstrating another way to apply art to public spaces quickly: it's drawn on to a sticker (a US mail address label). The two layers of drawing seem to have nothing to do with each other, artistically or thematically (nor do either of them speak to the medium of the address label).


Anonymous said...

Beautiful piece. I love the layerings that happen, without anyone person planning them, in public places.

And I am also fascinated by the way something as minimal in its physical presence as graffiti can spark, or express, intense passions about property, possibly reminding us that property itself is a conceptual construction.

Ahistoricality said...

"layering" -- very interesting way to look at it. I'll have to remember that, thanks.