Thursday, 22 February 2018

Street censorship, Ultimo

When I went down to the shopping centre yesterday to have some salad for lunch I came across a number of painted black boxes on the pavement. There were four of them within the space of about 100 metres, on the west-side footpath of Bay Street. Three were like this one, regular square or rectangular shapes. But one had been made in close proximity to the kind of builders’ marks that are put down with cans of brightly-coloured spray paint to show the existence of utilities (gas, electricity, sewerage, telecommunications) in the ground under the pavement. This one had been painted in a way that involved it intricately with one of these mundane markings, markings that have a purely utilitarian function related to urban improvement.

But the way all these meticulous black erasures had been delicately and thoughtfully made made me think of what they had been made to conceal, whether it had been an advertisement placed on the pavement by an enterprising advertising agency, or some random slogan by a member of the public pushing an ideological line. Or perhaps just a graffiti artist’s tag. I wondered who had made these distinctive marks on the street and why they had made them. Bay Street is heavily-trafficked and so is often used by graffiti artists for their markings, as I showed in the second half of last year on this blog when the marriage equality debate was playing out in public.

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