Subway Compass Stencils Return to Lower East Side

Posted on: June 15th, 2011 at 6:28 am by

Sometimes guerrilla street art can be quite utilitarian. Take, for instance the sidewalk “tourist lanes” experiment from Improv Everywhere, which segregated tourists from aggressive-walking New Yorkers last year. Now here’s something for the lost souls out there. Seriously.

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Within the last couple weeks, those ornate compass stencils have made a fairly strong comeback on the Lower East Side. Sightings thus far include many a neighborhood subway entrance, including the Delancey/Essex Street, Broadway-Lafayette, and 2nd Avenue. The discombobulated straphanger on a first-time mission to the area will likely rejoice in the additional orientation assistance.

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But this isn’t the maiden voyage, so to speak, for the compass stencil. Indeed, sidewalk stamps began appearing outside subway stations all over the east side exactly one year ago, but the altruistic street cartographer remained relatively anonymous. Until this past winter, when word broke that mysterious artist I M Pi was behind this pseudo public works project. The street writer informed NYC the Blog at the time that this simple navigational problem carried an obvious artistic solution:

I want my work to make people rethink public spaces and what is possible. I wanted to take personal responsibility for the city around me. I wanted to break the law in a positive way to highlight the fact that this is our world, we create it and we can effect it.

When in doubt, there’s always the basic rule of thumb of “even streets go east.”

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