Rue de la Verrerie
In Paris the pavement is used as a noticeboard, just as it is in other cities. I have seen a number of stencils announcing â€“ or advertising â€“ one thing or another. But SIDA Ã‡A PLOMBE Lâ€™AMBIANCE , usually coupled with a pink ACT UP PARIS stencil, seems to be the most prevalent, although most examples are looking a little theÂ worse for wear.
Roughly translated as AIDS: it weighs down the atmosphere (but I stand to be corrected on this), it is the slogan that Act Up-Paris used at the LGBT Pride March on 26 June this year in an effort to mobilize the LGBT communityâ€™s acknowledgment of HIV-AIDS and of people living with the disease.
Rue Vieille du Temple
This January, edutainment was used by Waverley Council in an effort to prevent smokers from butting their cigarettes on the beach without resorting to fining them. As part of the campaign a chalk artist was contracted to draw pictures with messages on the promenade at Bondi Beach, complementingÂ theÂ official â€˜No smoking on beachâ€™ pavement signs. You can see one of these large yellow stencils in the background of this photograph.
Three days later, after a battering by weather and feet, the chalk artwork was looking a little the worse for wear but it had already done its job, attracting coverage in newspapers like the Sydney Morning Herald, and probably also being passed around on social networks via tourist cameras and mobile phones. Â Â
In an article recently published, I talk about the way in which old-fashioned street art is used by advertisers as a starting point to disseminate their messages across a wide spectrum of new media.
Hicks, M. 2009. Horizontal billboards. Continuum: Journal of Media and Cultural Studies 23 (6):765-780.
The Dictionary of Sydney was launched on 4 November 2009. Itâ€™s an on-line encyclopaedia of the history of Sydney with new material being added continually. The range of subjects is broad and sometimes surprising. Along with such conventional topics as, say, Governor Lachlan Macquarie or the Japanese Submarine Attack, there are such entries as Drag and Cross Dressing, and The Royal Commission into Noxious and Offensive Trades, and even (ta-da!) Reading the Roads.
â€˜Pokeâ€™ is one of the illustrations for that article. It’s an example where unofficial graffiti â€“ an advertisement for a dance party â€“ has colonised a piece of official pavement graffiti â€“ a zebra crossing. The photograph was taken in Newtown in 2003.
I figured this sign was not meant for me. Some private joke or invitation, but still I was intrigued. Sat 1st? Yes, I got that – the previous Saturday was August 1st. Queen Street? King Street? Crown Street? No streets of that name anywhere near this spot, the corner of Ross and Hereford Streets, Forest Lodge (Glebe). And as for the upbeat insect? Â No idea.
A month later I found an answer of sorts in Cleveland Street, Surry Hills, some three or four kilometres away. A notice chalked in the same hand for Surry Hills Markets, always held in Crown Street on the first Saturday of the month. So the notice in Glebe was meant for me â€¦ and everyone else. But I still donâ€™t get the ant.
The dance party stencils are getting bigger and bolder. Around the middle of June ads for JUST? at Club 77 were sprayed all over inner-west pavements. Those in the know know where Club 77 is.
Within a few days, Skiver TEK had obliterated the JUST? plectrum at Stanmore Station with their own stencil. I guess they had their reasons. But there are still plenty of those bigÂ JUST? stencils around.
Arrow chases are the urban version of Hare and Hounds. Kids chalk arrows on the pavement instead of leaving paper trails, and Hash House Harrier clubs sometimes write esoteric instructions beside their arrows. I spotted the â€˜Walkersâ€™ arrow near Stanmore Station.
AF remembers being on a run with his club some years ago in Melbourne when the arrows petered out near a tram stop. Not knowing what else to do the group of sweaty runners got onto the next tram that came along and rode to the end of the line. There they found that the arrow trail had resumed with the instruction â€˜ON ONâ€™.
Arrow chases probably explain many of the chalk arrows you see in the streets, but others are written on the pavement for the benefit of strollers and shoppers, pointing the way to shops, markets and garage sales. These arrows come in all sizes with all kinds of text and embellishment. The â€˜Psst â€“ garage saleâ€™ arrow and a set of others like it were in King Street, South Newtown, last year.
Over the years I have found York Street in the CBD to be a very fruitful site for pavement observation. Last week I spotted thisÂ line of scribbles near Barrack Street. These scribbles are not meaninglessÂ â€“Â they are aÂ record of the City of Sydneyâ€™s Rapid Removal policy on graffiti. I missed out on seeing the advertising stencils they replaced.
â€˜Rapidâ€™ is a relative term, of course. A larger and less dainty scribble at the south end of King Street, Newtown shows where a â€˜No warâ€™ pavement art work used to be. It must have been there for some years before it was overwritten in 2008. I was very sorry to find it gone, especially as it was in a precinct where there is some tolerance for graffiti.