Los Angeles city officials are so weird and flip-floppy about graffiti. On the one hand, they act all precious about our status as “mural capital of the world”; on the other, it's taken them over a decade (and counting) to come up with a mural ordinance that doesn't restrict all new public art in L.A.
Another thing they're weird and flip-floppy about: Occupy. First, they kiss protester ass and tell the Occupy L.A. camp it can stay at City Hall as long as it needs — then they raid the living hell out of it, sending in riot cops by the thousands and arresting 300 sitters.
Put the two together, and you've got this latest piece of contradictory gold:
A concerned letter from the Department of Cultural Affairs to the general public, asking “an organization or organizations to take conditional possession of one or both wooden structures used during the Occupy LA protests.”
Seems like not so long ago that L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa was lumping every last tent and creative structure bulldozed during the raid into the shameful “30 tons of trash” category.
Now, the octopus mural — erected by occupiers, and apparently salvaged from the rubble by city cleaner-uppers — is being called an “Artifact” by Cultural Affairs. That's right, “Artifact,” with a capital A. Mayor Villaraigosa reportedly called up the department in late November and asked them to play up the “historical significance” of the thing. So officials are taking pains to make sure the org who wins the (moneyless) bid will do right by the angsty anti-corporate art:
The City of Los Angeles wishes to see that the Occupy LA Artifacts are publicly displayed in the near future and protected for future audiences.
Pat Gomez of Cultural Affairs tells us the deadline to apply for the mural is February 6.
And the lotto is still wide open: “We haven't received any [applicants] yet,” she says. “But it's only been like a day.”
Gomez says the department will eventually “conduct an independent panel” to choose the best home for the historic piece. Serious stuff! Oh, and whoever the lucky winner is, he or she better be ready to “take on the responsibility of costs” for transportation, restoration, etc.
Good to see it's officially acceptable to respect Occupy again — now that the city's left the local movement humiliated and homeless.
Update: Occupy L.A.'s response is much in the tradition of “We Are All Sarah Mason” (with respect to the TIME covergirl): The mural “belongs to all of us,” writes Occupy blogger Yvonne de la Vega. Only problem is, now that it's an “Artifact,” somebody — preferrably with a big truck and a spacious museum at his or her disposal — has to step forward and take full responsibility. Anybody out there who just can't live without these lovely purple tentacles of corporate greed?
Ahem, Robert Berman?