As I tire of the ongoing struggle between my umbrella and the wind, I look for a warm, sheltered corner to pause and pull myself together. All I see is a deserted parking lot. Frustrated, I step onto the concrete under the awning of a neighboring building and fumble with the weathered wiring of my umbrella. Fighting the torrential rain isn’t my idea of a nice afternoon as my venture to explore the picturesque EastVillage turns into hugging the side of a building to escape a storm, staring at black pavement marked and divided with white lines. As I muse over how unpleasing the aesthetics of a parking lot are, I notice a worn 8 by 11 sticker stuck to the wall of the building. The phrase Save Our Gardens frames a torn caricature of Mayor Rudolph Giuliani. I wonder why someone would put up a poster in this parking lot because no one is likely to see it.
The tears on the sticker stand out because they remove the first printed layer of the image. Someone who inhabited this space just as I have has made a physical statement representing his or her response to the sticker. Was it the mocking picture of Giuliani that captured their attention and inspired their resistance? Was it the gardens? Or was it the location? Regardless, it is clear that the Save Our Gardens sticker has aroused controversy. I am reminded of “Enactments of Power: The Politics of Performance Space,” an essay by Ngugi Wa Thiong’O that investigates the rich content of a performance space in the context of post-colonial Kenya. He explains that the “space is never empty” (291). According to Ngugi, even a space as sterile as a parking lot can be “the site of physical, social, and psychic forces in society” that often reveal points of contention, mani...
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...l interview. 23 Feb. 2003.
Geertz, Clifford. “Deep Play: Notes on a Balinese Cockfight.” The World Through Art: The Advanced College Essay. Ed. Darlene A. Forrest, Pat C. Hoy II and Randy Martin. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2002. 145-78.
Goulish, Matthew. “How Does a Work Work Where?” The World Through Art: The Advanced College Essay. Ed. Darlene A. Forrest, Pat C. Hoy II and Randy Martin. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2002. 184-87.
Greenblatt, Stephen. “Culture.” The World Through Art: The Advanced College Essay. Ed. Darlene A. Forrest, Pat C. Hoy II and Randy Martin. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2002. 188-95.
Sonia. Personal interview. 23 Feb. 2003.
Thiong’O, NgugiWa. “Enactments of Power: The Politics of Performance Space.” The World Through Art: The Advanced College Essay. Ed. Darlene A. Forrest, Pat C. Hoy II and Randy Martin. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2002. 287-319.
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