urban posters

    _When the context of our life is structured and guided by the logic of neo-liberalism, and mechanisms of control are omnipresent, protest as a pure negation and as an absolute and destructive refusal seems to be no longer efficient, nor productive. Today it is rather in the form silent and almost invisible, it is through a set of banal everyday actions, that resistance takes place and finds its effectiveness. It goes away from destruction towards initiatives to propose alternatives, to reappropriate the space of life, to de-create and create anew. It manifests a will to have a voice and to act in order to manage one’s own environment, in order to be responsible for the space and context we live in. The space of “silent” resistance is the space of our everyday life, far from a world of heroic fantasy.     _The space of everyday life is also a public space; it is a space in common. Here a personal intention and initiative meet a collective will and constitute a shared space.
    _Public space is a space of life in common. It is responsible for the global “ecology” of life and reflects the structure and the mechanisms of contemporary society. As a strategically important place, it is dominated by power structures. It is organized and controlled. The actions are prescribed and supervised (the signs of interdiction of graffiti and non-authorized posters etc.). More immaterial and at the same time the most visible evidence of the characteristic of contemporary society is a gentrification that defines a today’s urban landscape in metropolises and in small towns:

    _New social structure demarcates the city map: life in the city center gets more and more expensive, affluent people replace the poorer population that could hardly afford to keep on living there, and the difference of “styles of life” and of living conditions in the centre and in suburbs is more and more remarkable. Differentiation and «specialization» of areas take place in cities. «Rich» districts and «poor» ones become islands separated by a “style of life”.The territories whose borders are marked by the special «style» of institutions of infrastructure: «their» (high-class or low-class) housing, «their» (high-class or low-class) shops, restaurants, fitness-clubs etc. cultivated by «their» magazines. After all, it seems that the ideal style of life today is everywhere the same, but there are people who can afford it and those who cannot but still have it as an ideal, satisfying themselves with cheap copies of high brands.
    _Almost every urban district has a certain reputation, an image that defines the status of its inhabitant in the contemporary society, highly hierarchical by “the style of life” (the key word here is «prestige»). Almost every style of life has its brands and codes that define the person's membership in a certain circle of people and define the person's place and a position in the society. It is a symptom of unification, uniformization and differentiation of taste and style of life today. The territory of the city is a heart of contemporary urban civilization and all the wounds of contemporary society are more visible there.


    _Our project is based on the research of traces of “silent” resistance, and is to define the domains of urban public space where it could take or takes place. The project is based on the observations and is not meant to be illustrative nor didactic, nor to fit the already established forms. It is an intention to look at life around with attentive eyes.


    _So, walking in the city and looking around one day, I came across an advertisement of female lingerie with an image of a young woman in bra. Over the image on the glass of the light-box one could remark a phrase «Women are not objects» written with a marker. A feminist slogan over the image of a half-naked woman, sexy and appealing, like it should be in the genre of advertisement, responding to ideals cultivated by the media in contemporary society. Few days later the protesting texts were already printed on paper evoking a form of a sticker, and pasted over the poster, that made me imagine a certain “organization” behind this gesture.
    _This simple gesture made me think about all the possible surfaces that an urban space proposes for saying a world and to be heard, and about the significance of this kind of communication. Urban space, as a space in common, is potentially open to all kind of statements. But as the space controlled and organized, it imposes interdictions and allows only certain forms of messages. Likewise, the allowed and omnipresent images and texts in the urban space is advertising. Messages that it transports don’t call for a reply, they don’t propose possibilities and don’t give a right for a reply. They are not meant nor authorized for a communication. Serge Daney talks about «the visual»: « The visual is at once reading and seeing: it’s seeing what you’re supposed to read. (...) The visual is the optical verification of a procedure of power (technological, political, advertising, or military power). A procedure which calls for no other commentary than «reception perfect, AOK»”*. Nevertheless, advertising and posters could be also a place of spontaneous and non-authorized expression, a place where people could express their ideas that very often take the form of a protest. The same way the walls of buildings and any other surface in urban space could be a space of this kind of communication. Moscow artist Alexandra Galkina has made a  photo series with the images of phrases written by somebody on the walls of the public buildings and later  crossed out by another person  - a disagreement that goes up to destruction, leaving at the same time the traces of this “extreme” communication - that she has seen in urban space. Another artist from Moscow - David Ter-Oganyan - presented political statements, which due to a number of crossed-out words or letters propose different, sometimes opposite, variants of reading of the same message. One more allusion here is a song of a German musician Torch who’s rapping about a will to cover the walls of buildings in urban space with the letters of the alphabet in order to prove his existence...


* Serge Daney. Before and After the Image / Documenta X. The Book : Politics Poetics. Ostfildern, 1997. P. 610

E. Y.