The Street as Possibility – 'By attending to the small things, the useless, saddening and bittersweet bits and bobs of public space, we can enjoy art without the need for its production.'
- Paul Sochacki
What streets have in common is that they usually lead somewhere.
On our way through the urban context they connect us to various places, people and things. The network created is vast, complex and delicate. Constantly confronted with distraction by information and advertising, symbols and forms, signs and labels (utilities mainly, some more useful than others), it is difficult for us to take notice of the smaller things within the streetscape. From leftovers, trash, fallen leaves to odds and ends, the things I mean are the ones usually overlooked and rarely considered worthy of attention. For those remains of humans, animals or plants to become aware in the mind, moments of rest, in which we either daydream or properly focus, are required.
Whilst everything on the street is geared to utility and usefulness, a state of mind able to recognize but also to appreciate the surrounding is hard to activate in the passages of public space. Publicity, the queen of distraction, combined with grey cityscapes of financial capitals or the abandonment of villages, radiates immense power. A power that constitutes gates for spaces that are only accessible with money. The outdoors, however, have no roof. There is therefore a limitless exposure for everyone. Unpredictable, uncertain and contingent, the great outdoors is frightening as much as it is exciting. In that sense, the street is filled with possibilities and potential to nourish us via various encounters.
One of the great potentials of public space is the encounter with traces of life one could call the ‘small things’. As long as seasons change, humans and animals live and waste is produced, the street cannot be imagined without these trivialities. In spite of their banal quality they can catch the eye because they seem to be out of place, are strangely arranged or aesthetically interesting. This useless trivia cannot be marketed and is, more often than not, seen as an unwelcome nuisance of the urban landscape. Not only memorabilia for the collective but also catalysts for thoughts, ideas and links within our heads. They take part in making up a whole other set of networks and values. Precisely here lies an urban empowerment. The street and its raw features offer an escape into a real surrealism.
Imagination as a possible solution to political problems has long been investigated in philosophical theories...