by Professor Cramulus, ASS
I have a little brown messenger bag which waits by the door for me like a puppy wanting to go out.
In my bag, I carry a few pages of stickers, some markers, post-it notes, pope cards, my notebook, a camera, two fake mustaches, and a folder containing a few hundred posters. I like to walk around the neighborhood, putting up fliers, making changes to signs, and generally having fun.
One day, past midnight, a one-eyed bum approached me on the street. “What’ve ya got there?” he asked. “I seen your pictures around the neighborhood. What ARE you doing?” This question always stumps me. It’s a funtime activity I’ve never really attached a name to other than “putting up stuff”.
Searching my brain for a quick explanation, I eventually told him, “It’s art,” but the word stuck in my throat. Well I guess you could argue that anything is art, but I don’t really consider this art.
I lay in bed that night, the question turning over in my mind: What AM I doing?
For one, I’m taking back my environment and gradually transforming it into the place I want it to look like. I just like making everybody’s day a little bit more surreal, and this is a really visible way of doing it.
For two, I know that somewhere out there, there are other people like me. Other people who appreciate these weird little intrusions into pedestrian reality. My posters are signposts saying “I’m here, and you’re not alone.”
And for three, it sends the message to everyone that public spaces are public property. We all modify our environment by living in it. The sounds and smells and rhythms of the neighborhood are an organic reflection of its occupants. Putting up posters is just like trimming the hedges or mowing the lawn.
Walking through the neighborhood with my bag over my shoulder, my cabal at my side, I’m reminded of don Juan Matus and Carlos Castaneda on their way to Ixtlan, trying to walk with the entities and intelligences of the desert. We’re urban shamans, befriending the spirit of the neighborhood. While you go on your ventures, I recommend this attitude, one of respect and stewardship for your environment, your companion on this journey.