Public Space and Prop8


Feel Tank Chicago. Image related to their Parade of the Politically Depressed. (It happens on the street on MayDay)


No on 8 rally. Weird Space in LA. Photo by Nancy Popp

I’ve been asking myself the following questions: what would an increased activity or access to public space do? What is the actual output (politically and culturally) of mixing and proximity, of a public life? For New Yorkers, this question might seem superfluous; for those of us in more dispersed cities, this question is the link between a truism (public space=good) and lived experience.

Over the past x number of years, there has been an interest in public space (InSITE and Just Spaces are just a few of the recent stuff here in LA). Additionally, neoliberal urban planning regimes have been recreating cities to be more “public” within a corporate rubric. I am interested in projects that bring more of the whole of the human experience to the public… emotionality in particular. Feel Tank in Chicago does this brilliantly. Check out one collective member’s great reflections on their project Pathogeographies. The piece also talks in a very detailed manner about the particular interpersonal interactions of art in public space.

Los Angeles has been seeing forceful public responses to the passing of Prop8. The marches have been huge and, what’s more, uncontrollable. I went to one in the early downtown. By the time I biked two miles back to my house, the march had gone much further then I thought. Several hours later, I heard from Sunset Boulevard (five blocks below my house) the clamor of a march. Sure enough, a spirited group of 100 or more had splintered off and were marching the long distance through Echo Park to Hollywood. Astounding. The paired horrors of Prop8 and the hope of the recent elections has generated a lot. I met Nancy Popp (who took the protest photos) at the march and we talked a bit. She and collaborators discussed the need for continued contact after mobilizations…contact being one victim of our space here. To prove the point, along Sunset Blvd, after the crowd passed to the accolades of onlookers, I overheard a conversation in Spanish repeating the lies of the yes on 8 conversation… but no one was around to dispel the myths.

On a final note, an event at Sea and Space Explorations, A Solo Show, is an interesting way to bring 100 private spaces into the gallery. Makes for really interesting curation.