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Research + Work

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Research + Work

Street Paintings, 2019

Mark Harris

These works are from an ongoing series of around 60, made on East London streets over the last two years where poetry, and occasionally prose and song lyrics, are spray-painted letter by letter through stencils on to trash which is then left to be taken away by the waste collection agencies. For these actions of bringing poetry onto the street I only work on impermanent surfaces, unlike graffitists. The transience of the work relates to the instantaneity and lightness of poetic language. Amongst those whose works are sampled are Dionne Brand, Kamau Brathwaite, Aimé Césaire, Marcel Duchamp, Thom Gunn, Métail Urbain, Sylvia Plath, Scritti Politti, Percy Bysshe Shelley, Sun Ra, Margaret Watts, William Carlos Williams, and Virginia Woolf. I work outdoors in plain view and greatly value the conversations I have with passerby, the majority of whom are of Asian, Caribbean, or African descent and who are very open about their interest. These encounters with non-art audiences have become an important aspect of this project concerning the ephemeral presentation of poetry in public spaces. I generally find this public interest particularly honest, informed, and engaging. The process is filmed and photographed.