Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Tempe's art revolutionaries: Killing private property one wall at a time

A new anti-property art piece by Disposable Hero, located near the entry to Casey Moore's

Reclaiming public space or attacking private property? Time after time of seeing working folks' evicted, their former abodes razed, and then high end condos put in their place, I've lately been more attracted to the entire scrapping of the concept of private property. Not so much because I enjoy dwelling on the negative, but just to settle shit with the rich once and for all. No more of the "We're reclaiming public space for all the people," just so the rich can take it back later and resettle it with their developments. Let's get with it and get to work on killing private property, so that we are no longer in the position of arguing the false dichotomy of advocating for public space, while all space is constantly enclosed upon.

Developers have not only their money to buy their influence in city hall, and their yuppie art culture to woo the cowards at the newspapers, but they have the actual ability, through their ideology of enclosure, which is so pervasive, to create and define space at their whim. They make physical boundaries real and protected with the stroke of a pen, so easily is land under control and protected for them, either by the boundary lines of fences or the watchful eyes of public and private police forces and surveillance cameras, that to challenge the institution seems insane. In order to take their power away from them, a power that destroys the fabric of working class communities and local culture for the benefit of a few with money, we must resist in many ways, though writing is one fashion (the pen is mightier than the sword, etc.), it is not an effective tool for change when no one is watching or listening. The fight against gentrification in Arizona will be read, seen, heard, and felt- and this battle has already begun.

Valley anarchists attack a BMW on Mill Ave. during the May
Day 2002 protests against the yuppification of Tempe

The attacks against property, the monuments of economic inequality, are varied in tactics and intentions. Worth noting are the conscious acts of rebellion against the rich in the form of protests against development and gentrification, smashing out of windows, gluing of door locks, and/or leaving spray painted messages are but a few ways this resistance manifests. Some may recall the wild demonstrations on Mill Ave. in 2002 and 2003 against the influx of yuppies and their new colonies (namely the Brickyard), these two events (along with many other demonstrations, graffiti, and street art) polarized the dialogue locally into two camps, pro and anti, virtually erasing the middle ground.


A short film of Disposable Hero and other local artists make use of an empty wall.

One form that I have taken a particular interest in has been the dramatic appearance of art work that is posted in public, or on private property, intended for the enjoyment of all. Northern Tempe has been the scene of a renaissance over the last few years, as hanging cardboard heads from telephone wires, large wheat pasted poster on electrical boxes, and sidewalk and walls covered in stencils pieces has become the norm. Out of all of these new creative expressions filling the streets, making any bike ride down Farmer Ave. a visual treat, there has been one series of work that is impressive, more than anything, for the sheer volume of output. The artist, Disposable Hero, has been busy wheat pasting posters, putting framed art to walls with glue guns, and nailing painted scraps of wood to public and private walls for years, much to the delight of this writer. He/she has joined the likes of the infamous NG graf crew as the forefront of AZ street art, much to the chagrin of local developers, who would love to present a spotless, homeless free Tempe to their potential yuppie investors. A place where art is contained in galleries, poverty is shuffled out of sight into the waiting handcuffs of a cop, and words like "artisan" can be thrown around to "dirty up" these multi-million dollar developments when none of the new residents have any skills that resemble what artisans are capable of.

Fuck that. Let's give 'em hell, because at the end of the day, they don't give two shits about you or me, or even want us near their big money fortresses, unless the city invites us all down for a not-so free music, beer, or fireworks festival, at which we are quickly shuffled out of the area so that the bars can continue to serve the legions of ASU zombies and the yuppies can get back to their "urban experience."

On a related note: The Forever in Control graffiti art show is going down this weekend, I recommend hitting it up and seeing the future colors of your city's streets.


Anonymous said...

You have hit many aspects and reasoning behind Disposable Hero right on the head.
Public Art Projects are never done in hindsight of the viewer yet to take control of the moment. The general publics interaction or even awareness is rarely seen or heard.

We are bombarded daily as a consumer with “visual pollution” through adverts. These range in forms of television, radio, print ads and billboards. Aside from the capital it takes to brandish these messages what sets us aside? One word MONEY. It is the case of the have vs. the have nots. As a consumer we are pushed into voiceless ness and live in fear of what is to come. If we are not being sold too we are being told the situations around us are worsening. IE any 5 o’clock news cast. Famine, War, Poverty, Children Abduction, Rape, Global Warming….Now on to the weather. The thing is we do have a voice. We can choose to not consume. We can also use the same repeat imaging campaign to sell absolutely nothing but awareness of our surroundings.

Thank you for being you and shedding light through your blog.

Disposable Hero

dirtydirtdiggin said...

Thanks for the kind words and the shout-out on your website, I appreciate it. I very much agree with your statement: "We can also use the same repeat imaging campaign to sell absolutely nothing but awareness of our surroundings." I think this raises a good point, we all see advertising everywhere, almost all the time, it's sad to realize one has seen a Burger King logo more than their own mother's face, right?

Anything that corrupts this wide net of corporate visual propaganda is initially met with revulsion, for example I've heard folks complain about graf pieces on walls that don't even belong to them! Why get so upset about something that is not even yours? I suspect it's because it so challenges some basic assumptions that people have built their whole lives around: private property is sacred, and art belongs in a gallery or on a wall.

Keep Tempe wild!

Phoenix Insurgent said...

Great piece, brother. I expanded on some aspects of this story on my page.

Anonymous said...

Good article. I have been wheat pasting Monument ltd posters around Tempe for many years, and its exciting to see other getting involved in this form of street art. I hope that as our generation ages we will find ways to get our public spaces back, until then I will take them