May 21, 2009


Here’s a list of ideas I sent around to folks this morning, reaching toward group activity to respond to the vandalism of art on our campus.

1. Letter writing campaign to Daily Illini and News-Gazette about public art and its potential to raise important questions of common concern? (oblique, educational)
2. Letters condemning vandalism to art (attack the act, doesn’t explain the art)
3. Letters from groups of people: Urbana Public Arts Commission, Art History Department, Art and Design, etc. about value of artwork
4. There’s already a petition online that Ashley Tsosie-Mahieu organized.
5. Regular “docent” gigs on the street (see Street Librarianship post, below.)
6. Performative, interactive events around the signs
7. Tagging the signs for information sources

Number seven was suggested to me by Dianne Harris, who learned of it from Jennifer Giuliano during HASTAC this year. Jennifer says:
With “Microsoft Tagging,” the coded tags are embedded with information (it can be any sort of information from names, places, websites, etc.). You can have both black and white and color tags. You can visit Microsoft tags here: Anyone can use it by downloading the technology onto any cell phone with a camera and an internet connection (to download the reader software from Microsoft.)

And some more…

8. Vigil by the signs
9. Motion sensors on the signs, but those would probably react too often, to everything.
10. Ceremonies by the signs
11. Speaker’s bureau about artistic interventions
12. Donations to a potential Chancellor’s Fund for purchase of Heap of Birds “Beyond the Chief”

2 thoughts on “Actions

  1. Artist Bonnie Fortune added these excellent ideas:
    I agree that some action ought to be taken.
    I agree with all of your suggestions and would
    tack on/add 2 things:

    1. Conduct some anti-oppression workshops in the community. I think those should be scheduled events, tied into the performative pamphleteering projects. This could be a way to address the lack of education.
    2. Produce a solidarity sign project. Free yard/window signs given out at places around the community (IMC, student union, etc) This could be a way to expand the message of the signs on campus to the community at large to show a community wide anti-racist message of support. I think it is necessary that this becomes a larger issue. (We have discussed something like this in smaller neighborhood meetings.)

  2. Artist Beverly Naidus posted this comment on the activistarted listserv:
    “When I was recently in LA, Judy Baca mentioned that the vandalism of murals has increased exponentially in communities where art education and mural programs are no longer funded. Within a few years, most of the beautiful murals will be covered in tags because the youth there have no understanding about the effort it took to make them, the context in which they were made, etc. The frustration of the youth (and, in some cases, adults) is sadly channeled into aggressive acts towards the art. The murals become the “authority” being attacked, rather than commercial media. I would encourage a public dialog about the lack or the quality of art education available to students on campus. It would be useful to question whether commercial billboards and advertising in the area are attacked as well, or whether the art alone receives this violent commentary. The vandals may think that art is much easier and more exciting to attack (for a myriad of reasons). I’d also be curious whether the attack was motivated by racism or by anti-art sentiments.”
    Thanks, Beverly!

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