Who: performance artists Jennifer Allora and Guillermo Calzadilla
Where: public squares of Lima, Paris, and New York
When: 1998 – 2006
What: Allora and Calzadilla placed twelve five-foot columns of chalk in public squares.
They then invited people to use these pieces of chalk to express themselves by
writing messages on the ground, doodling, etc. This turns the chalk that would
have otherwise deteriorated naturally into a fleeting opportunity for expression.
Why: The messages varied based on location. In Lima specifically, the chalk was
placed in front of government buildings whereby participants could write
critiques on the state manifesting a peaceful protest. Military officers
would eventually come and confiscate the chalk and wash away
any political statements made using the chalk.
Memory of Future
Who: Japanese artist Michihiro Shimabuku
Where: Iwakura, Japan
What: Shimabuku filled an empty plaza with a variety of props that seem out of place
to purposefully provoke passerby to stop, enter the space, and reflect on their
relationship with the city. In addition, Shimabuku also does a number of
odd street performances in public passageways like shaving off a single
eyebrow and then conversing with shocked and surprised witnesses.
Why: Shimabuku’s goal is to activate the underused communal spaces of Japan.
By engaging the public directly in creative, interactive situations, Shimabuku
forces the public to reconnect with their familiar surroundings and participate
in new exchanges. He draws attention from Iwakura’s citizens and wants them
to consider new ways of activating these spaces that largely go unused.
Similarities: Both projects involve public interaction. They are participatory projects.
They involve the use of objects that are out of their element: papier
mache bird heads and a pineapple for Shimabuku and big five foot
pieces of chalk for Allora and Calzadilla to provoke public curiousity.
Differences: The objects used are entirely different. Chalk in Tiza (Lima) allowed for
actual expression, while Shimabuku’s props simply provoked curiousity.
Their goals were also different entirely. Tiza (Lima) was more politically
charged (peaceful protesting), while Memory of Future was more
about improving society by activating unused spaces.