A corner is the place where two lines of different or similar dimensions meet at an angle, or the intersection of two edges. A corner can also be defined as a point for which there are two dominant and different edge directions in a local neighborhood of the point. –Wikipedia
Today I’ve been shooting corners. I started thinking about the corner pictured below, the corner of 47th Ave & 12th St in East Oakland, the site of multiple shootings that have wounded innocent by-standers and killed others.
I won’t go into describing the craziness that occurred once again outside my window Friday night as I was getting ready to meet friends, ironically, at the Film Noir Festival in San Francisco. This time a cop was shot –at the same corner where I witnessed the aftermath of another multiple shooting and killing at the end of October –on the same street I heard the gunfire that murdered a man in July 2011. Three shootings in a year and a half?
I’m going to survey regulars who live and work here: What creative thing could be done to change the patterns of neglect and violence on our particular corner?
For example imagine a temporary, improvisational, mural covering the concrete building pictured above. It could start as a simple geometric pattern that allowed for tagging to happen. Members of the community could then transform and incorporate tags as they occurred without obliterating them, into an ever-changing pattern and visual conversation.
Right now the “collaboration” between property owners on my street and taggers seems to be all or nothing. It’s a dysfunctional, non-communicative cycle of paint over / graffiti / over paint / graffiti –of business giving the street a blank slate.
Why not hold a visual conversation between the community and the taggers on the walls of the cement building at the corner of 47th Ave & 12th? What institutions would need to be on board – or not? Would it be dangerous? How would it be funded? Who owns the building? Who is the community? Who are the taggers? Would it work?
I’m not sure this is the answer. Maybe 10 foot strips of wild California poppies outlining the corner would do the trick, but certainly some kind of restorative visual intervention could be tried to alter the rhythm of attention on this corner –to shift the current pattern of desolation that seems to invite violence, and death.
This chain of thought led me to shoot some of my own corners…
and exterior corners of my environment.