You can tell a lot about a city by its crosswalks.
In Sydney, the ‘Art and About‘ program installed large banners throughout the city illustrating the slight variations in ‘crosswalk people’ around the globe. The little blinking green man who helps you avoid becoming a traffic accident isn’t the first thing that comes to mind when considering ‘what piece of public art defines where I live?’ But… ‘God is in the details.’
A few examples:
In Warsaw, Poland – the Crossing Man is shattered, wrecked, in pieces. What brought him to such a state of discombobulation? How does he even walk like that? Not only are his limbs disassociated, but his head is monstrously large. It’s as if Warsaw Man lived through WWII and hasn’t finished rebuilding. Perhaps the city is still figuring out how to become whole again.
In Chicago, USA – the Crossing Man is orange, hunched, an arm limply stretched out in front of him. He carries the weight of the world on his shoulders. His head is not attached to his body. He leans on one leg as though he could crumple at any moment.
In Santiago, Chile – this Crossing Man appears frozen, fixed by the shine of his own luminosity, bursting from tiny bulbs within. His pose doesn’t suggest walking, but hesitating. Like a deer (or kangaroo) in headlights, he is frozen. His head floats above his body, his back is set straight. What is Santiago resisting? Who has frightened it?
In Paris, France – the Crossing Man can’t be bothered with anything. His head is screwed on tight. His knees aren’t bent, maybe he isn’t walking, but just waiting for someone else to walk for him. Hands in pockets, he is casual, haughty.. and if he is run down by a car… Merde, C’est la Vie, at least he looked like a gentleman as it happened.
In Stockholm, Sweden – the Crossing Man is defined by his spine, the only visible component of his interior, which radiates through his torso. His legs are much stronger than his wispy arms. His head is small. Stockholm Man is on the move, quickly, perhaps propelled to find his way indoors by the chilly Scandanavian air.
In Boston, USA – do not get in the Crossing Man’s way. He is coming through, his arm cocked back, shoulder ready to charge any obstacle in his path. His outline glows, his inside is dark. He leads a private internal life. With his rear leg straight and his forward leg bent, he is almost crouched, poised to move briskly. Without feet, he makes his way by the power of his middle.
And finally, in Sydney, Australia – the Crossing Man is an idealist. He appears to have gathered the qualities of other cities, taking the best and leaving the questionable. He has a good neck. His arms evoke action, without aggression. His legs, in long stride, get him along his way in good time, at no risk of injury by overexertion. His salutary proportions make fellow pedestrians want to wave and shout, ‘G’day, Mate!’