Street art has become quite a comprehensive term in the past decade, encompassing more than graffiti, implying the street as the canvas and the studio for any and every kind of expression. However, one cannot act unsurprised when a creative mind finds another, recycled, but yet unseen channel to express a unique vision. Toying with numerous inherent cultural notions, from the 19th century tableau vivant, to the very contemporary idea of upcycling, a New York photographer Justin Bettman has initiated a project which is, very literally, Set in the Street.
Justin Bettman and Gözde Eker
A skilled photographer, with a previous experience of working with IKEA, Coca Cola and Spotify, Justin Bettman found a perfect way to fully express his individual creativity. He collaborated with set designer Gözde Eker in imagining, and consequently materializing, outdoor sets, recreations of ordinary, but vivacious interiors, made of scrap materials and furniture found in the street. The sets have been placed around the city without permission and after the photoshoots have been completed, they have been left there, to either wither or testify to the project. The people of the city were free to come and take their own photos on the set, creating other imaginary realities, which they would upload to Instagram later, with a #setinthestreet hashtag.
Upcycling the Tableau Vivant
Discarded furniture Bettman has been collecting for about half a year has been used in the Set in the Street project, as well as building sets found on sidewalks. Eker and Bettman then strived to make appealing real sets for the project and the passers-by to make their own mini-narratives. Sets needed to be stylized, which was the job completed by Gözde Eker, who gave them a polished, catalogue aesthetics. The scenes gotten are so wonderfully alike to TV or sitcom sets.
Decision to shoot the sets outside came as a result of economising – no studio has been rented. Their idea developed into a great street art project, in which a lot of different artistic expressions are met.
Interdisciplinary Street Art
Set in the Street is an interdisciplinary art project, made on the crossing of theatre, photography, set design, performance and street art. Taking part in the shooting, people become integral with the performance, unknowingly recreating the ephemeral spectacle that has long been forgotten. The ultimate reason for which Set in the Street can be seen as street art is that it is left out there, for the people to enjoy and use, without asking anything in return, but raising the spirits and making the day of the voluntary participants.
Set in the Street is for the People
The reaction of the people to the Set in the Street project surpassed all expectations. The sets made around New York and Brooklyn during the night all had a sign with a designated hashtag #setinthestreet, so the people would feel encouraged to sit and use the tableaux. Some of the sets have stood in the street for over a week, shot and tagged by around a hundred people, while others were torn apart or taken down very quickly. Each of them was made with a knowledge the project is essentially ephemeral, just as any tableau vivant would be, but the experience and the influence was what moved the creators and the participants both. Today, we have a wonderful set of photographs by Justin Bettman, as well as numerous pictures on Instagram, telling the story of unexisting interiors in the streets of New York.
Good news is that Set in the Street Project is ongoing, so we look forward to next editions of sets.
Check out another take on tableau vivant here!
Love Artspotting? Sign up for My Widewalls and spot away!
All images courtesy of J. Bettman.