Look at these images. I found these walking the streets of Santiago. There were many many more, hidden in the infinite corners of the city. Some of them were murals on walls, others were found in parks, others while I was walking along watching the pavement in front of me. These were the most fascinating. We spend so much time looking down ~ but what do we see ? Are we even seeing when we walk? The automatic pilot draws us away from the external moment and into a strange space of unconscious-awareness. In Santiago I learn that it pays to have your eyes open, even when you are performing the simple action of watching where you are going as you walk along the street….not just so you can avoid stepping in dog poo….
Each has its character, its story, its creator. As I come across them, they invite me to stop and engage. As a walker, that is what I love about this kind of art~ it transforms the quotidian experience of walking into a process of moving through a storied landscape. As I walk, I consciously (or unconsciously?) translate with my eyes. Thoughts emerge. Reactions burst forth. I see these, I feel these. They are a cause for more analysis. A perpetual gift to the individual and, through the individual, the collective.
At the metro stop at Bellas Artes there are two murals on opposing walls. Looking knowingly to each other, they invite me to look upon the impacts of the new colonisation~ globalisation~ through the eyes of a naive child. I wonder how these symbols translate in the Australian context, l think about Australian kids. What lays in store? In Lastarria I come across a bizarre wall installation that looks like someone took my childhood nightmares, painted them in neon colours, gluing them up on a wall for all the world to see. Decaying bunnies and rusted cassette tapes transport me back to another universe where a little girl in Mount Isa spent hours in her room listening to the radio and making home made mixed tapes, marvelling at the technology that would allow her to take things into her own hands and be able to listen to her favourite songs again and again and again…..In Bellavista I see a woman in the throes of labour under a tree. The raw feminine energy of this image is brutal, there is a loss of control as she gives birth to light that I find frightening……And on and on….I walk, I pause, I think.
When babies are babies, we concern ourselves greatly with stimulating them constantly. We know that they are in a never-ending state of absorption and reconstitution, of reactions to what they are experiencing. Growth happens against these reactions ~ pushing through the resistance, making sense, the boundaries stretch. Street art forces you to stop, to think, and ultimately, these slivers of thoughts settle somewhere inside, creating a seen and unseen alchemy of ever-changing tapestries of perception. There are no boundaries to the boundaries….
I would like very much to live in a world where people can inhabit public spaces as they should be inhabited, freely. I see here that when rules are lifted, when expression is valued, chaos does not descend. Instead, beauty and creativity emerges.
watching my step.
look up, look down,
onto hard, cracked surfaces,
painted over history
filling in the spaces,
and painted over again,
find their way inside,
touching my own
in fresh ways.
i pick up these tiny passengers
as i walk,
buckle them in safely
ready for the long ride.