Contro Spazio: Punti in Aria (Counter Space: Points in Air) was a site-specific installation displayed in the SG Gallery and on the streets of Venice from July 7 to July 27, 2015. The goal of the project was to use graphic design (specifically, the printed ephemera of tourism) to provoke visitors and residents of the city to consider the ways in which graphic design fashions an image of Venice.
Inspired in part by the unique lace made on the island of Burano (Punto in Aria) and the ways in which this material underscores the individual, yet connected, geography of Venice and the larger lagoon, Contro Spazio asked viewers not only to reconsider their immediate physical relationship to the city, but to contemplate their complicity in the ways in which the city is represented and consumed.
The installation consisted of 24 hand-cut street maps of Venice, 847 hand-perforated postcards (a quantity which marked the increase in the number of tourists - 847,000 - visiting the city between 2009 and 2013), 424 stickers (in English and Italian) that could be customized, and one-hundred posters (in English and Italian) mounted throughout the historic center of Venice.
Opening a dialogue between the space of the street and the space of the gallery, the posters (installed officially by the city of Venice), instructed passersby to visit the SG Gallery, view the installation, select a blank sticker and personalize it by adding their own interpretation of Venice. The audience was then instructed to return to the streets, find one of the project posters and add their sticker to the poster.
Ultimately, this journey (from poster to gallery to poster) was designed not only to bring attention to the commercial postcard as a site where personal and public perspectives of Venice collide, but to emphasize the ways in which the poster constitutes its own form of public space. Of the stickers installed in the SG Gallery, approximately 97 were taken by visitors and applied to posters on the city streets over a three-week period.
"Interacting with a city does not have to involve the latest technology. This is a wonderful example of using accessible mediums to encourage civic action and understanding. The project provokes locals and tourists alike to discover interesting details of Venice that they might walk past in a blur each day."
"A graphically delightful and surprisingly sophisticated interactive intervention, this project nicely complements and contrasts with the visual and material textures of Venice."
Anne Bush (designer, producer/project manager)
Grafiche Veneziane (printing), Ufficio Pubblicità, Comune di Venezia (poster installation)