An article in re:place, a Vancouver based public space magazine, considers the public rhetoric of streetposters.

To some, posters might be seen as little more than crass, obtrusive clutter. Yet for others they are essential to the lifeblood and culture of a place. Thus, it is important to understand the forces and attitudes that lie behind street posters and the things that allow them to keep popping up even in places they are not supposed to. Their existence is tenuous, but the role of posters in public life should not be overlooked.

…street posters also reflect something deeper: the creativity, entrepreneurship, passion and political ideals of communities…

As much as urban enthusiasts might fantasize about the city as a place of surprise and wonder, there is also an opposing tendency to contain, define, and regulate public spaces. Ironically, the lack of formal respect for street postering is partly a function of the fact that posters represent culture without permission and, almost by nature, are not intended to be formal or particularly orderly.

No doubt the internet and social networking sites (in particular) have taken on an expanded role in the public sphere, disseminating information and building community. But these mediated forms ultimately do not work on the same tactile level. Think of street posters as part of a broader community dialog: one in which anyone with an idea, a message, and a willingness to put in a little effort can participate in.

Postering, at its core, is culture without permission. The lack of formality and established order are what give street posters a unique kind of validity. There are layers upon layers of significance both in the act of postering and the posters themselves that speaks to the need for negotiating between order and disorder. Posters themselves are not an end. What is more important is that such negotiations happen.


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Filed under Imaging, public art, public space

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