URBAN INTERVENTIONISTS PETER GIBSON aka ROADSWORTH: A GLITCH IN THE MATRIX

Peter Gibson (aka Roadsworth) to street art :: painting bicycle symbols around the streets of Montreal, mimicking those that are used to designate the city‘s official bike paths, as a form of activism rooted in indignation and a desire for more of such paths.  Street art to question of “car culture” in general, a society bent on oil, over-consumption, and hyper-individualism

 

Apart from influences such as the work of land artist Andy Goldsworthy it was particularly 9/11 that was the catalyst that brought Peter Gibson (aka Roadsworth) to street art: “The event had the strangely liberating effect of making me feel I had nothing to lose”. He began painting bicycle symbols around the streets of Montreal, mimicking those that are used to designate the city‘s official bike paths, as a form of activism rooted in indignation and a desire for more of such paths. It was also a questioning of “car culture” in general, says Roadsworth, a society bent on oil, over-consumption, and hyper-individualism, complacent and unable to overcome its own inertia, and the numerous ills this engenders, from traffic congestion, smog, under-funded public transport, to an overstrained health-care system, obese children, pollution, global warming, war etc. His work soon developed and expanded into a language around street markings and other elements of the urban landscape, using a primarily stencil-based technique, humorous and open-ended, not preachy: “Not only was I lacking the confidence to issue slogan-like generalizations about issues I did not fully comprehend, I was also aware of a personal degree of complicity. The ubiquitousness of the asphalt road and the utilitarian sterility of the language of road markings provided fertile ground for a form of subversion that I found irresistible. In the spirit of Marcel Duchamp, all I had to do was paint a mustache on the Mona Lisa, to introduce a glitch in the matrix.”

In the fall of 2004 and after leaving some 300 works on the street Gibson was taken into custody by Montreal Police, after having been caught ‘red handed‘. He was charged with 51 counts of mischief, but received a very light sentence after a public campaign in his favor. Since that time, he has received various commissions around the world for his work and continues to be active in both visual art and music: ”The “vandalism” that I and many graffiti- and street artists have practiced has to be considered in the context of the industrial vandalism that’s a part of our everyday lives. I also chose to practice street art to question the hypocrisy implicit in the notion that public space is democratic when in fact it caters more to corporations than it does to everyday citizens. This is evident by the prevalence and acceptance of corporate advertising on one hand and an intolerance for individual expression on the other whether it be in the form of graffiti or a poster affixed to a telephone pole advertising a local band, piano lessons or a lost cat. Some would say that relinquishing barriers to public expression is to invite anarchy but I would argue that a certain form of anarchy already exists: corporate anarchy.” http://roadsworth.com/

ROADSWORTH HAS BEEN SELECTED AS ONE OF THE HIGHLIGHTS OF THE MAPPING THE DESIGN WORLD EXHIBITION AT RECIPROCITY, THE DESIGN BIENNIAL FOR SOCIAL INNOVATION IN LIEGE, BELGIUM, FROM OCTOBER 5 TILL OCTOBER 28 2012, AND OF THE ACCOMPANYING MAPPING THE DESIGN WORLD MAGAZINE – FOCUSING ON MORE THAN 100 EXAMPLES OF DO GOOD DESIGN PRACTICE FROM AN EQUAL NUMBER OF COUNTRIES.

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