The Phenomenology of Red Tape

I’m walking down Glendale, taking pictures of street art in Silver Lake. Up comes Citibank, but before that there’s a man selling cocos frios. I don’t buy one.

Down on the ground I see what appears to be a round ball, probably a lamp, wrapped in red tape and enclosed in a glass box. The tape reads DANGER DO NOT ENTER. The glass walls are covered in condensation.

Cool, I think. Someone must’ve done that for mischief’s sake. I imagine myself strolling drunkenly down the street one night, seeing a bit of red tape, seeing a ball, and wham, I am the mischief maker. But this box seems to be pretty well sealed. How the hell did she (or maybe he) get in there and wrap that ball?

I look up. I see a banner touting a Silver Lake Art Collective Art Exhibit. So this isn’t mischief or its slightly more highfalutin cousin, street art. This is public art. This is sanctioned.

But it looks raw. That condensation wasn’t planned. The whole thing is rough. I like it. It’s public art that could’ve been street art, and thankfully it’s not of the crappy graffiti mural variety.

I am dehydrated.

On the backside of Citibank is the art gallery. I walk in. There are works on the concrete floor, leaning against the white walls. I peek into one room and see a guy with longish hair talking to someone else. I now forget what that someone else looks like entirely. It happens.

I smile and walk back towards the door. The guy with longish hair follows me. Maybe he thinks I’m about to steal something.

I talk to him. The show, currently on the floor, will be on the walls the following week. I should come back then, he says. I ask him about the red tape and the glass box. He says whatever’s outside is not affiliated with the space at all. People often do things like that, he says. None of it’s sanctioned.

I no longer know what to think.

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When: May 8, 2010

Where: Los Angeles


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