“Consider this a love letter to public green space” suggests one of the twelve posters of the art project “THE COMMONS” by Gretta Louw. Societies are created in public spaces. Green areas, public squares, parks and walkways create an organic network through cities; they form a topography of social and political participation and the backdrop for public interaction.
On the other hand, advertising also comprises an influential infrastructure in public space. Not only along streets and squares but also in the digital realm, billboards, posters, pop-up windows, and screens function to disseminate marketing campaigns to often unwilling audiences. Mobile devices advance the intertwining of analogue and digital spaces, such that we increasingly exist simultaneously in the inextricable intersection of both. As part of broader discourses around digitalisation and the attention economy, or social cohesion and exchange beyond filter bubbles, “THE COMMONS” questions the commercial use of shared, public space. Do the public spaces we inhabit reflect our priorities, realities, and values – and how could public space be transformed for social good?
In Munich’s Glockenbach district, along the River Isar – between Roecklplatz and the Patent Office – and online on Instagram (@TheCommonsMUC), poetic and provocative posters by Munich-based artist Gretta Louw gives us a reflective look at the public sphere in July 2020.
Gretta Louw, born in 1981 in Dundee, South Africa, lives and works in Munich.