<body> Public Ad Campaign: PaperGirl NewsPaper-In A City-In Einer Stadt
This blog is a resource for ad takeover artists and information about contemporary advertising issues in public space. If you have content you would like to share, please send us an email.

Friday, September 17, 2010

PaperGirl NewsPaper-In A City-In Einer Stadt

A while back I was asked to write something for the PaperGirl Newspaper being printed in Germany in conjunction with the PaperGirl "community project" for lack of a better description. Long story short, the Papergirl project takes donated artworks and gifts them to the public by biking around the city in mass offerings. Visit their website for more information about the project, its motivations, and where it is going in the future. The Newspaper, was an extension of the PaperGirl project and included musings on public space, artist interviews, thoughts on the act of giving, and many other notable topics. It is a small art piece in and of itself and a reflection of the much larger goals behind a focused public intervention. Below is the text I wrote, which was translated into German for the final paper printing.

In a city, any city, our city, this city, my city, your city, things are new to you and me. It’s only been a short while since we have piled upon one another in these tiny boxes we call homes, apartments with numbers to distinguish where we are from. Once we spread out with great distances between us and called ourselves by different names. Now our hearts and our emotions pile high on top of one another in separate spaces we establish for our separate lives. And yet in our isolation we are anything but alone. In a city our lives are built in the streets, built upon the interactions outside where we see the neighbor next door, the corner shop, the mom and pop, that person we ignore. It’s when we leave these boxes and step outside into the daylight we tend to meet the people we might otherwise have forgotten in our isolation. This is where we create a city, define our collective identity and negotiate our common interests. When we lay quietly in our bedrooms it’s hard to imagine we live amidst a crowd, yet if the walls were broken down, we would see each other every time we had a thought. Outside there are no walls, and hearts and thoughts collide as our voices and bodies create any city, our city, this city, my city, your city.

And isn’t this fantastic, this life that’s built up a mile high, made of people tossed on top of one another. At home we may be different but when we venture from our isolation we suddenly become Berlin, New York, Miami or Madrid. A mess of emotion crowded so tightly that what this city is, is everything we share together. And when we are alone in our tiny little boxes it really doesn’t matter who we are to the city that were from. It is only when we wander to the streets that together our voices create the city that we live in. So you may decorate your four walls with pictures of kings, or paint them white and let the emptiness be your company. Either way it doesn’t really matter to the rest of us. Inside you don’t exist. Outside you are potentially profound.

Have you ever had a conversation with a stranger and they said something you had never heard before from anyone you ever knew because this person didn’t know better than to say what no one ever thought to say? This is the benefit of a life spent amongst the living, all the people that surround you when you wander out the door. In fact it doesn’t have to a be a stranger but a wall on which they left their mark that alters how you see the world and changes everything. These written words or images are left for you and I to find as we traverse this concrete playground. Where inside your voice falls on deaf ears, outside it carries far and wide as people take your thoughts and pass them along like embers carried, burning hot, waiting to ignite the next fire that we gather round. Yet maybe you do not care to speak and instead you find yourself alone on a bench reading letters written to you by someone who isn’t there. Even in this state of silence it would be difficult to ignore the eyes that fall upon you or the sounds of feet shuffling by, reminding you that you are not alone. On a busy city street you can stand alone, quietly, and would never forget where you are, in a city, any city, our city, this city, my city, your city.

It is in fact these conversations, moments and interactions make you feel at home, remind you where you are. And then the rains may come. First they start slowly as clouds gathering high above the buildings. The sun may go but we continue our conversations, buttoning jackets and donning scarves to keep the chill from moving us towards isolation. The roar of voices is directly proportional to the frequency of the rains falling from the sky. The letters you were reading might need protection and the city looses one more person while umbrellas allow a remaining few to occupy the streets. Tucked in doorways, strangers have their final say and leave you with racing thoughts, ideas you need to contemplate. And then the rains come harder. Rivers grow on sidewalks draining into lakes making street crossings difficult and navigation labored. Lightning may strike and punctuate the emptiness. The crack of sound alerting you that no one is around. And suddenly you may realize you are not anywhere. The rain so hard it washed away the writing on the walls, drove away the strangers and left you on a sidewalk in city you don’t recognize. The silence is like darkness, the lack of conversation like a veil that shrouds your vision; with no sounds this city could be any city, your city, my city, someone else’s city.

And if you decide to be brave, to sit under the clouds and wait till the water stops to flow, you may find the strangers coming back into the streets. The first may only stay a minute, moving quickly for a destination. Without a voice to make a thought this figure only suggests the place that you are in. But then a newspaper is spread over a wet bench and suddenly there is another, permanent for now, stealing glances while letters are read written by someone who is not there. And then a conversation begins, faint at first but growing in intensity. An argument is made for statements made between strangers and out of nowhere you begin to see the contours of a place. Doors open as the tiny boxes that keep us quietly tucked away empty into the streets. What texts and images were washed clean are penned again onto the walls. The clouds have lifted and the roar of conversation takes its rightful place. And everywhere you look, suddenly as if by magic you realize you are in a city, any city, our city, this city, my city, your city.



Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home

      Sharon Zukin
      The Cultures of Cities

      Miriam Greenberg
      Branding New York

      Naomi Klein
      No Logo

      Kalle Lasn
      Culture Jam

      Stuart Ewen
      Captains of Consciousness

      Stuart Ewen
      All Consuming Images

      Stuart & Elizabeth Ewen
      Channels of Desire

      Jeff Ferrell
      Crimes of Style

      Jeff Ferrell
      Tearing Down the Streets

      John Berger
      Ways of Seeing

      Joe Austin
      Taking the Train

      Rosalyn Deutsche
      Evictions art + spatial politics

      Jane Jacobs
      Death+Life of American Cities