Psychotownplanning

A review of the Moseley Society’s “Great Walls of Moseley”

This artwork neatly parodies pamphlets by local societies, confronting the reader with almost indiscernible irony that forces us to question our own attitudes. The bulk of the work seems to bemoan unsuitable walls in an area. We are told that, with regard to local issues:

“As far as many residents are concerned nothing has had more effect than the proliferation of new boundary treatments to residential properties.”

However, the disproportionate emphasis on this relatively minor issue leads us to understand that there is a complex investigation into society and its boundaries going on. The humour of the prescriptive diagrams disrupts the dry, legal discussion of Town and County Planning and suggests that laughter is the ideal wayto dissolve barriers between individuals. They discuss the subtleties of psychogeography, showing how conservative walls lead to conservative minds.

On the surface, they claim:

“Scalloped walls, built from several different brick colours, some with iron fencing infills are certainly inappropriate and incompatible with the established surroundings.” But does not this very incongruity help passing citizens to break out of their usual expectations, creating an almost Situationist liberation?

I read the subtext of this pamphlet to be:

“Build the walls higher! Build them in yellow and pink brick! Build them with barbed wire and razors! Aim to shock and outrage, for this is the path to revolution”

This is made explicit at the end of the work, where they state that small changes in your environment can dissolve the ‘shutters’ of your closed mind, and create a new kind of ‘shop front’ to resist capitalist norms.

“…who knows, with better walls, a new car park and “Village Green”, some of the shutters may go and new shop fronts appear.”

© April 2003 (Originally published in a.a.s. maga-zine #1 under the name Palmer Kruiboesch)

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