French artist Juliana Santacruz Herrera takes a lack of sidewalk repair services in Paris into her own hands by filling the potholes with spools of multi-colored yarn, both brightening the city and drawing attention to its flaws at the same time.
Perhaps there is no French equivalent of 311 or SeeClickFix, but even if there are, Santacruz Herrera’s option for highlighting small flaws in the city by improving them with art is a novel way for citizens to be more involved in the functioning of where they live. To be fair, we’re reading a lot into Santacruz Herrera’s motives. She could consider these projects simply art and not a statement on the state of Paris sidewalks. She hasn’t explained her work. But even if it’s not intentional, the work takes a problem with a city and simultaneously highlights it for fixing and beautifies it. It’s an excellent kind of civic engagement.
Her project recalls the excellent Object Orange collective of Detroit, who painted abandoned houses bright orange to alert people to the problem. When you see things every day, they just become part of the landscape. When an artist comes and blows them up with bright colors, you start to see how things could be improved.
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