“The street tears from obscurity what is hidden, publishes what happens elsewhere, in secret; it deforms it, but inserts it in the social text” Henri lefebvre
A few years ago, when I started my degree at N.C.A.D, I came across a piece of writing on a wall in Dublin. I guess you could call it graffiti but it seemed much more than this. A woman, Rose, had written (in some sort of permanent white ink) a desperate statement to her partner. She begged him to come home. She told him the door was always open and the kids missed him. She even wrote her mobile phone number and signed ‘Rose’. She wrote this in an area that is well known for drug dealers and addicts to converge, socialise and shoot-up. It’s not in a dark alleyway but in the city centre, Out in the open on a busy junction where cars and pedestrians pass by. Where I passed by for 4 years of college. I saw this writing and wondered what had happened. Had he ever called her? Did he go home where he was desperately missed? Perhaps he never even saw the writing, or worse still, decided to ignore it.
As the years went by this piece of writing faded. At the time I had no inclination to record it. I eventually forgot about it and then at the start of my M.A while examining lost objects in public I remembered it again. I decided to go back there. Before I revisited it, I worried it would be completely wiped away by its environment but maybe if I was lucky some remnents would remain. Either way I was going to record it this time. And perhaps I would write something back for Rose. Perhaps I would let her know she hasn’t been forgotten. If her message never reached him it reached me at least.
You could call it desperate but I think there is such bravery in what she did. She wanted her family back together. She went to the place she knew he would be, the one place where she could get through to him. Interestingly, It was never rubbed off, it stayed there for years, this very personal statement in a public place for any stranger to pass by and read. But what struck me when I returned to the area was how forgotten this little piece of writing on the wall was. I asked my friends I went to college with if they ever remember seeing it and no one knew what I was talking about. Even when I began to film it, no one noticed it. It was simply a piece of dirt on a grubby wall. Unloved and unnoticed. Rose, to me, is as much an imagined figure as she is real now. She seems like just a shadow.
As an artist I make art to communicate something. To allow a conversation to happen between art and the viewer, and yet the established mode of doing it, is still inside a building, where the viewer has to make the conscious decision to view it. It feels more powerful to catch people off guard. It is on the streets where the everyday and quotidian occur. But it is here where fragments of beauty and astounding insight can be found. It is here, while staring at something mundane that you become transfixed with the absurdity of life and of the beauty that surrounds you.
I’ve always been told to stop looking at the ground while Im walking, I should be looking up at the buildings and their beauty but now I’m beginning to think the ground is infinitely more fascinating! Happy looking!