I had heard or read about this guy long before we visited Italy two years ago. When we were in Florence I started seeing some of his art, which consists of “modifying” street signs to make whimsical or sometimes political commentary. I only saw them in Florence, although I understand that he (or copycats) have made this art all around the world.
Clet Abraham was born in the UK in 1966 and was educated in art at Rennes before moving to Italy in the early 1990s. He is a well known and respected painter, sculptor and restorer. The “modifications” are easily removable adhesives that Clet and a few friends apply at night, sometimes in plain view of security cameras.
The artist explains:
My street sign work stem from a reflection upon our “common visual space”. The omnipresence of street signs, other than being a sign of the [Italian] culture of “anti-responsibility”, can verge on the absurd. The message is very poor (sometimes I feel like I’m being treated like an idiot by them) and yet they have a highly invasive aesthetic. As a professional in the world of visual space, I feel called to intervene, both to notify the public of the absurdity of the situation, and to propose a constructive and respectful alternative. My adhesives are developed to add a further level of reading [to street signs] constructed on the base of their original signification in order to maintain its utility but give it some intellectual, spiritual, or simply amusing interest. The final objective? That traffic keeps flowing without us feeling spoken down to!”
I had forgotten about these photos until recently, when I was selecting photos for the last post. I’m glad I was able to dredge them back up!