Vacancies [A Public Art / Text Experiment] Part I

10 12 2010

This week my teammate Becky Harlan and I posted the first of a series of public art/text collaborations in our neighborhood, as we are trying to think through and experiment with what artistic production and language looks like in public, especially in our strange context.

The First Ward is undergoing a wave of change headed by gentrification. From our time observing the landscape and listening to our neighbors, the vacant lot has become one of the clearest symbols of this change. There are dozens of vacant lots which were once homes or businesses, most of which are being purchased by developers to build luxury lofts for young downtown professionals. The vacant lot, to me, embodies the tensions of transition, ownership, and identity, and also happen to be a site mediated by text (that is, the commercial text of a real estate sign). Adding creative language [poetry] into the visual format of the commercial sign was a way to stand within this space a both a means of protest and play.

My hope is that this will be to engage both the older, generally poorer residents of the neighborhood, and the incoming residents of the new lofts into a deeper thought about their neighbors and place they reside. Already, as I was putting up and fixing the sign, this piece has led to strong, passionate response from two long-time First Ward residents.

The text here is  from “La Loma” by Raul R. Salinas (an Austin-based poet), placed on an already existing blank sign on the corner of Goliad and Crockett Streets. Crockett is one of the busier streets in the First Ward, and this lot also happens to be the site of a life-time First Ward family’s home that was demolished within the last decade.

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2 responses

6 01 2011
Vacancies Part I (b) « Mission Year Arts Team

[…] found in an overgrown lot, installed in an empty lot next to a row of Urban Living lofts. (see the description of these […]

3 02 2011
Vacancies [Part II] « Mission Year Arts Team

[…] For this new piece I used my own poem (which was a lot more satisfying) that I had written a little over a year ago, and adapted and expanded it to six three line stanzas, then arranged it as a “for sale” sign (with help from Becky on the first half). This on the lot on the corner of Summer & Holly. [read my description of the Vacancies project] […]

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