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Urban Decay Turned to Art

January 10, 2013

Original Post from We’re suddenly feeling embarrassingly unimaginative after encountering the winking street art of French artist Oakoak. Most of us see a cracked sidewalk, a wall of peeling paint or a crumbling roadway, and our first instinct is to whine about urban decay. Oakoak sizes up the same imperfections, largely in his industrial French hometown of St. Etienne, and he sees, well, this:


His playful public-works improvements wrap street art around an unusually narrow set of mediums: busted cement bollards, hairline cracks in retaining walls, missing metal grates. We love the concept for the way it changes the pedestrian relationship to urban eyesores while drawing attention to them. In an email, though, Oakoak cautioned us against interpreting any grand critique of city officials or St. Etienne’s decline in his googly eyes and stick figures. “No, this is not that,” he writes us. “I have no particular message. Perhaps it’s just to show that urban elements or walls could be not just grey, and ‘sad.’”




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