A doorway in Greenwich Village with a high concentration of street art and stickers (Photo: Hannah Awcock).
New York City has a thriving street art culture. Almost every neighbourhood has walls covered in art, both official and unofficial. There are also a lot of stickers, of all kinds- I spotted one sticker advertising a new novel, which is something I haven’t come across in London before. Lots of stickers generally means lots of protest stickers, and during
the week that I was there in early March I found loads. I wouldn’t like to say whether the amount of protest stickers is increasing, or I have just got better at spotting them since I visited last time, but it certainly felt like there were a lot. I found so many in fact, that I have decided to split this post into 2 parts, with Part 2 being published this time next week.
Protest stickers are a great way of seeing what kinds of issues are important to the people of a city. Some themes crop up again and again, whilst other topics just appear to be a particular bug bear of one zealous stickerer (I am still looking for a less clumsy way of referring to people who put up stickers!) Stickers are just one of the ways in which protest imprints itself onto the physical fabric of a city, but they can also be one of the most long-lasting, although their transience is one of their defining characteristics.
As in London, gentrification is a contentious issue in New York City. These stickers are drawing attention to the issue in a tongue-in-cheek manner (at least I hope it is!) (Photo: Hannah Awcock).
You can find stickers about a whole range of issues, relating to a whole range of scales. The relevance of this sticker is confined to New York City (Photo: Hannah Awcock).
Some stickers refer to national scale issues. The upcoming Presidential election is just about all anyone can talk about in America at the moment, and this obsession is reflected in New York’s protest stickers (Photo: Hannah Awcock).
Some stickers are about international scale issues. In case you can’t read the top line, this sticker says “Stop Iran- We Stand with Israel” (Photo: Hannah Awcock).
There are some stickers that defy scale; this sticker doesn’t refer to any issue in particular, instead advocating a more forgiving attitude that could probably help a lot of contentious situations (Photo: Hannah Awcock).
This sticker also takes an abstract approach. It is by a street artist called @ApillNYC who, despite the @, has very little information about them on the internet (Photo: Hannah Awcock).
Some stickers are not even remotely relevant to New York City. This sticker comes from the Hillsborough Justice Campaign, which seeks justice for the 96 people who died in a crush at Hillsborough Football Stadium in Sheffield in the United Kingdom. I have seen these stickers before in London and I was very excited to find them here, on the viewing platform at the top of the Rockefeller Centre (Photo: Hannah Awcock).
As well as relating to a whole range of scales, protest stickers come in a whole range of forms. This sticker is basic, and was probably quite easy to make (Photo: Hannah Awcock).
Whereas this sticker blurs the boundary between protest sticker and street art, and likely took a lot longer to produce. This sticker, which I suspect was pasted to the wall rather than being stuck with its own adhesive, is by someone called Individual Activist (Photo: Hannah Awcock).
One of the most common themes of protest stickers in New York City is policing. There has been widespread controversy in America over the past few years over the treatment of civilians by police officers, particularly when it comes to ethnic minorities. Rise Up October was organised by the Stop Mass Incarceration Network (Photo: Hannah Awcock).
This sticker plays on the idea that the police should protect citizens, rather than pose a threat to them. In reality, the police can pose a threat, particularly to members of ethnic minorities (Photo: Hannah Awcock).
To serve and protect is another phrase commonly associated with the police. This sticker is implying that the police serve and protect property, rather than people (Photo: Hannah Awcock).
This sticker is advertising a different demonstration against police brutality. I think that #Octresist was also organised by the Stop Mass Incarceration Network, in 2014. If that is the case, then this sticker is getting quite old! (Photo: Hannah Awcock).
Garden State Ultras are a sports fan group with a radical edge. ACAB (All Cops Are Bastards) is part of the international radical language (Photo: Hannah Awcock).
This sticker wouldn’t win any prizes for subtlety, but sometimes that is the best way to get your message across (Photo: Hannah Awcock).
As I mentioned before, the Presidential Election is a hot topic in America. Donald Trump is a controversial figure who nobody seems to like, yet he keeps doing well in the primaries (Photo: Hannah Awcock).
Most New York stickerers seem to be fans of Bernie Sanders. A democrat, he has been called America’s Jeremy Corbyn, he has been giving some people hope that politics can be done differently (Photo: Hannah Awcock).
This sticker was produced by The Personal Stash, which sells marijuana-themed accessories and promotes the reform of laws relating to marijuana (Photo: Hannah Awcock).
This sticker comes from Bernie Sander’s official campaign. Sometimes, the line between protest and formal politics can become blurred as radicals attempt to reform the system from within (Photo: Hannah Awcock).
And just to end the post on a positive note…(Photo: Hannah Awcock)
Don’t forget to check back next week for
Part 2 of Protest Stickers: New York City 2!
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University Teacher in Human Geography at the University of Edinburgh. Interested in the cultural, historical, and political geographies of resistance.
View all posts by Hannah Awcock
May 5, 2016 June 23, 2022