We were given the rather vague brief of 'subvert the familiar' last term. I decided that I wanted to do something that, had implications outside of the studio. I liked looking at ‘street art’, ‘polite graffitti’ as opposed to vandalism, whose purpose was to make people smile or do a double take. I like the idea of designing somehting for real people, not for designers, so this project was more concept driven than design driven.
After looking into subversion in language I had an idea to use a self initiated project idea I had had years ago but never gotten around to using. The idea was to challenge people’s conceptions of poetry. I think a lot of people are put off poetry at school, they think it is boring and difficult to understand and has no relevence to their lives. With a lot of poetry, this is not the case and I think it unfair to dismiss this whole world just because you were given a few bad poems to write about at GCSE. I want to show people that the language is not always intimidating, that poetry can be beautiful and relevant. Part of the problem was the format, no one would buy a book of poems to read normally. If I ‘freed’ the poems from books and put them in the real world, and people saw them out of context, then maybe they might change their minds. And even if they didn’t change their minds, I’d like to think that it made them smile or stop to think. So the subversion comes in two forms: subverting the idea of poetry and subverting the format of everyday: you wouldn’t normally expect to see a piece of poetry in public space. I would also like to think that it is doing the poet some sort of service. W. H. Auden is quoted as saying he didn’t care about selling books, he just wanted his poems to mean something to people. By taking them out of books and showing them to everyday people, I hope that this in some way achieves those ideas.
I chose poems that were easy to understand, on themes that people could relate to, and put them in places that people might stumble accross them, sucj as library books, the street, public toilets and so on.To me, this is a worthwhile project and one I intend to continue for many years and to document along the way. I am still looking for more poems and thinking of other contexts in which to put them, something which will keep the project going for years.