In San Francisco, landscape architects and artists
collaborate to rescue a neighborhood park from urban blight.
By Zahid Sardar
San Francisco Chronicle
New art parks in the Mission District and other parts of San
Francisco represent a quiet kind of activism against urban rot brought on by
illegal drug dealing and other crimes. Activism and art have never been far
apart, if you look at religious and political history. More recently, art in
the United States and abroad has been swept into a new movement that engages
another kind of omnipresence—corporate hegemony.
Avant-garde Danish group SuperFlex, in residence at Montalvo
Arts Center in Saratoga, California, is driving home the idea that its arcane
experiments—biogas-collecting balloons in Tanzania and Thailand; blacked-out
no-name labels, tongue-in-cheek ad films, and other branding materials for a
new energy drink in Brazil—are art.
Perhaps. But by trying to make their interactive art
projects viable businesses that local growers and farmers can adopt, SuperFlex
is pitting itself against powerful international corporations that usurp
resources to the detriment of locals.
In a similar sense, the revitalized 24th and York Street
Minipark in San Francisco symbolizes a retaking of public land usurped by nefarious
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