Wednesday, October 29, 2008

my old office

sometime in may 2006, my old office, located on the first floor of the communications building at the university of washington, looked like this:


it started with a NO IRAQ WAR sign.

sometime in 2003, i taped a NO IRAQ WAR sign to the hallway window of my office. within days, it was stolen. so i got another NO IRAQ WAR sign and taped it to the outside window of my office. within a day, it was taken down, torn into four or five pieces, and pushed under my door and into my office. so i got a third NO IRAQ WAR sign and taped it to the outside of my office. within a day, it was taken down and torn up, into dozens of pieces this time, and jammed under my door and into my office.

so i got a fourth NO IRAQ WAR sign. but this time, i taped it from the inside.


soon after, the stickers began to appear.

i put up the first few - war is terrorism. keep santa cruz weird. god bless the freaks.

within days, people, students i assume, began sticking stickers to my office window. stickers with all kinds of slogans - arms are for hugging. arthur magazine. keep abortion legal. chicago bulls. indian country. kexp. are you part of the problem or part of the solution? trust women.

one day, a UW student-athlete enrolled in my intro to communication class and playing on the football team asked me if i would stick a husky football sticker on my office window. "sure," i answered, "but it would be cooler if you did it."

miraculously - and beautifully - none of the stickers covered the NO IRAQ WAR sign.


about once a semester, i'd drag out some boxes, cover them in colorful tapestries, and offer free books, magazines, tapes, CDs, masks, canteens, candle-sticks, stickers, and other assorted freebies. above the colorful boxes, i taped a sign that said FREE STUFF. most of the stuff would disappear by the end of the day.





one time, i put out 10-15 years-worth of issues of journal of communication, a prestigious journal in the field of communication. no issues were taken. on the other hand, this wooden cow head mask got taken within minutes.


the last detail was a vertical column of print-outs of my gone series. starting with the resignation of tom delay, the gone series is an archive of politicians, mostly linked to george w. bush, who have recently resigned, been fired, or been thrown in jail.


back in may 2006, i began to print out the blog entries and tape them to the wall next to the window. if i had stayed at UW, the print-outs of the criminals would have taken over my office wall, window, and door.


last weekend, i traveled to UW for irina gendelman's dissertation defense. while on campus, i skipped down the hall to see my old office. it's much cleaner and more shiny. and it has less stickers.

7 comments:

kq said...

this election year, in battleground ohio, at my public university, the faculty and staff have received stern memos from the university counsel's office about, among other things, how we are not to adorn our offices, windows, walls, with political stickers or signs. and we are certainly not allowed to don buttons or garb while on campus.

so far, i have been unchecked. my director says she supports me. but i have been put on notice.

candace f. said...

i love everything about this. it goes to show that magic happens when you make space public and invite participation.

david silver said...

kq - that's insane. public schools go so overboard on making sure they aren't being partisan that they end up being silent. bleh. for the record, when i first put up the NO IRAQ WAR sign, some of my colleagues said, politely, "that's partisan." i was like, "wha?"

candace! - thanks for the comment and thanks for getting it. public space and public participation is where it's it.

Jonathan said...

"one time, i put out 10-15 years-worth of issues of journal of communication, a prestigious journal in the field of communication. no issues were taken. on the other hand, this wooden cow head mask got taken within minutes."

I suspect any journal would have lost to the cow head mask, but the JoC is one of those journals that's supposedly prestigious but nobody I respect actually thinks it's any good on a regular basis.

andrea said...

the wooden cow head mask made me laugh out loud.

Anonymous said...

Whatever happened to that sign?

david silver said...

i have no idea.