(notes towards an unrealized project, probably inspired by my upcoming teaching gig at UC Berkeley as well as ruminating on the 40 year anniversary of the radical events of 1969)
The work will be a simple "billboard style" display with digitally-printed color flyers pinned to it that are based on a "color-averaging" of an actual public billboard found at People’s Park in Berkeley, CA.
I’ve been exploring the visual "leftovers" of Berkeley’s radical history to see how iit’s ideals translate from 1969 to the present day. Aside from the headshops, hippie tie-dye stores and cafes, it’s a pretty weird mix of old-age radicals that look like they’ve seen better days and college students who look like they couldn’t care less about politics. Berkeley, like San Francisco’s Haight Ashbury, has become a bit of a Disney-ification of itself with bumperstickers, tchotchkes, Bob Marley t-shirts, and dreamcatcher vendors. It wears the markers of radicality but seems quite content to be it’s own tourist caricature as well.
Where do the politics reside today and what does this visually look like, especially if the public becomes inured to the caricatures? People’s Park was a rallying cry for students against the University back in 1969 and now it looks like a sad, almost dangerous and derelict place. History somehow still is embedded in the park but the connection seems tenuous, more of a memory than an actuality.
Creating a visual approximation of the public postings found on the billboard in the Park removes the specifics but asks the viewer to in some way fill in the blanks as to what the message holds for the present and future. Are they radical flyers? Are they spiritual posters? Are they business cards for services? Rave flyers? Emptying an image may also perhaps grant it some space for a new type of content, one that is imaginative and perhaps more creative than what was really there.