I’ve recently returned from a trip to the USA and spent a few days in New York at the beginning of my trip. There was a heatwave on and I loved walking around the streets of Manhattan snapping visuals that caught my eye. One of the recurrent themes in the area I was staying in, the Lower East Side, was the appearance of flyers with little tear-off tabs. But instead of the usual advertising flyer for sales or events, this was part of a project, the BE MIGHTY project, which has tabs with inspirational quotes you can tear off and keep.
Here’s a quote that I tore off which resonated with me:
It is interesting to think about the genre of the project; the Be Mighty website refers to it as inspirational street art from NYC, which I suppose it is. It also seems more than that, in that it is also participatory, and engages the viewer in a different way from looking at a mural for example. It is also very text based rather relying on colour and shape for impact and narrative. However I think it’s also important to look at the context of the flyers, their relationship to the urban environment, and the way they are incorporated into the urban landscape.
In this next image the flyer is attached with yellow tape to a lamppost, the tabs fluttering in the wind:
In the picture below all the tabs have been taken but the BE MIGHTY! instruction is still there, surrounded by painterly graffiti scrawls so that this remnant itself could be part of an urban collage:
In terms of street art, this is a project that is both consistent and constantly changing. The flyers undergo transformation; the tabs get pulled off in random order, and the flyers themselves are updated on a regular basis. I believe this was flyer no.75:
The hand-written, bold felt tip capitals – in contrast to the typewritten tabs – lend the project a personal, human touch. I think the exclamation mark is also relevant, and adds emphasis and punch to the phrase: