21 May 2011

Front Stoop Politics in Brooklyn

I have posted here a number of times about the anonymous artist JR and his work. In The New York Times today there is a story about a current project of his in Park Slope, Brooklyn celebrating local shop keepers in the face of what passes for economic development.* I am not so convinced that the imagery transcends class - it seems that the pressures on the shopkeepers reflect deep class divisions, with the less well off pressured by larger economic forces working to the benefit of the better off. And I am not sure that the project will mitigate the displacement caused by the development project in the neighborhood.

But I am impressed by the way the project brings voices and faces into public, indeed by the way that seemingly private concerns are re-framed as a public matter. And in that sense, while the project is not in itself directly political, it may afford some basis on which people in this neighborhood might, in the words of C. Wright Mills, more successfully translate their "personal troubles" into "public issues."** In fact, as the report in The Times makes clear, the images and the people installing them seem to have actually established public space, however fleeting, in which people can interact in new ways. And that is political to the core.
* The actual execution here seems to be by Inside Out. The images here are lifted from this post by Emily Nonko.
** In that sense the images here bring to mind those that I note in this post.

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Blogger Rachel said...

Hey! Have you seen JR talk about his work on TedTalks? If not, I highly recommend it!! I'll post a link in my blog...

27 May, 2011 13:40  

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