posters are part of a beautiful city
Since the start of the election there’s been much jibing on line about the curse of election posters. I’m not above it myself, hence the post below featuring an info graphic highlighting the new realities of political canvassing from ne’er do well work horse Pixel Rat.
Having photoshopped muck savages leering down at you from on high, threatening to lurch forward in a gust of wind and slice your face open while you wait for the bus is not an attractive proposition in any rational persons eyes.
They are ugly, a blight on the urban landscape – ghastly over priced inconveniences that side line the political content of campaigns for personal ego and name recognition. Unfortunately, they remain a necessary evil of our political process. But like so much else we do in this city, we get it wrong – rather than treating this as a debate that springs up with each election, we should focus on it as part of a wider concern about how the city relates to communication on the streets.
Toronto has one of the best systems for containing the madness of those well oiled with corporate donations, advertising machines, that are our political parties. It uses a set of regulations
to really hem in the space available for such advertising. Largely this amounts to giving power to residents and people living in adjoining buildings to say no to the presence of such materials in their area.
For the most part, this totally changes the game of political advertising. Rather than a comic rat race of vans and party die hards racing to claim pole position on the streets, political canvassers have to solicit permission from supporters and residents to mount election materials. If you ever felt your neighbourhood was invaded by these alien outside forces that appear every couple of years, you can imagine the glee this right to refuse would give you. Such regulations here would limit the insanity of Irish election postering, it would also mean that the amount of posters would be determined less by who can afford to hire teams of under paid canvassers and more by what actual support they have in an area.
There’s a stark flip side to all of this as well. Dublin currently inhabits this bizarre enchantment with the street artist. It’s probably the romance suggested by a bit of illegal high jinx, we all want to take up the spray can and break creativity out across the grey walls of the city. It incites glee in us. We’ll happily stick with the sentiment and ignore the fact that most of what’s produced is fairly derivative. Of course, we’ll also ignore the pathetic state of our general littering laws and how they relate to the more mundane world of daily community and cultural postering. The stuff thats not really “art art” but more to get word out, and maybe sometimes it hits the nail on the head with design.
Whatever about the elections, postering laws in this city are beyond draconian - trying to comply with the protocols established around them is useless.
In essence, they limit the right to postering space to political organisations, though the city will discriminate against the left on a regular basis. They create heart ache between venues and promoters if materials go astray and turn into litter, causing huge fines for the owners. Mostly, we are all confined to the echo chamber of online promotion within the labyrinths of our own social networks. It cuts us off from each other.
Bizarrely enough too, there’s been little outrage about the recent Sunday Tribune article
about IPA. Get this – a corporate entity, using pubic hoardings to raise revenue for itself and no one has any fucking idea what monies goes to the public coffer as a result of it? It’s a sad reality that we live in a city where the poster and flyer art that signals the wealth of activity and culture that happens here is confined to indoor commercial premises that tolerate postering. And there’s even an enclosure there, with Micromedia, ferocious club promoters turned territorial rottweilers closing off much available space with perspex.
Now, with a city covered in hoardings, can we not switch up these laws a little to allow people to fly paste more freely in the city? As the Toronto Public Space Committee have it, “posters are part of a beautiful city.”
The photo above was taken out side the Central Bank, clear evidence that people are starting to throw posters up with a little bit more freedom on the gutted remains of businesses shut down after the Celtic Tiger left town. Why should they be criminalised for it?