In our first project, Peep Parade, we arranged 8,000 multi-colored marshmallow Peeps on concrete staircase in River View Park in Jersey City Heights . The staircase lead to a cobblestone road that stands adjacent to a shanty town overlooking Hoboken. We arranged the Peeps in the morning. I'd say it took us a little more than an hour or so to set up. We drove back to document the project in the early afternoon. While we were there, a man - disheveled, unkempt - walked over to the Peeps. A few were scattered across the cobblestone street. This man bent down to his hands and knees, and replaced the wayward Peeps to their original place. Then he walked away. This is my definition of beauty.
NOELLE LORRAINE WILLIAMS | Your collective is located in Jersey City, NJ one of the most ethnically diverse areas in the United States. Is their a common definition of beauty that spans across ethnicity, economics?
AGITATORS COLLECTIVE | I do not know if there is a common definition of beauty that spans across ethnicity and economics. That being said, many residents have participated in our projects, from playing hopscotch in Grove Street PATH Station to writing "who will save beauty?" in Vietnamese on the side of a wall. Many residents have taken photographs of our projects with digital cameras, cell phones, disposable cameras. Most recently, we asked citizens in Jersey City to translation "love is all around" into their native tongue. We managed to gather more than thirty languages.
NOELLE LORRAINE WILLIAMS | While it seems that how people define beauty in the "private" domestic sphere is often where people think the business of art lies, you all place an emphasis in the public sphere. How do you feel we can create an environment that is rigorously beautiful while being open to a "democracy" of visions of what beauty is and can be?
AGITATORS COLLECTIVE | In Agitators Collective, ideas are freely shared and labor evenly distributed. We specifically choose materials and objects that capture the culture of Jersey City, such as candy from the corner bodega, Christmas lights from a 99 cent store on Newark Avenue, and found objects taken from a vacant lot underneath an overpass. The locations we choose are either overrun with commuter traffic or in remote corners of the city.
Agitators Collective seeks to involve the public in our installations. The pieces have ranged from 8,000 marshmallow peeps on the stairwell of a city park to a 100 foot circle in turmeric in a parking lot, and the public's spontaneous reactions have spurred our future works.
Agitators Collective's works transform downtrodden sites into areas of vibrant creative activity. We cultivate life into dead public spaces to make people - particularly those people who have neither had the opportunity nor the luxury to set foot in an art gallery or museum - think about their space differently.
From creating a hopscotch court at a busy train station to painting "who will save beauty?" in over thirty languages on the side of an abandoned building, we seek to involve the community in our artwork, and transform neighborhood sites into vibrant playgrounds and beautiful exhibition spaces.
"We arranged the Peeps in the morning... drove back to
document the project in the early afternoon. While we
were there, a man - disheveled, unkempt - walked over
to the Peeps. A few were scattered across the
cobblestone street. This man bent down to his hands
and knees, and replaced the wayward Peeps to their
original place. Then he walked away. This is my
definition of beauty." - Agitators Collective
NOELLE LORRAINE WILLIAMS | Is there a particular reason that many of your projects utilize multiples, repetition and bright patterns? Is there any relationship to traditional textiles?
AGITATORS COLLECTIVE | We often focus on downtrodden areas that have fallen into neglect or dereliction. The sites range from vacant lots and abandoned blacktops, empty storefronts and concrete slabs beneath
We arranged Christmas lights to spell "beauty" in Arabic in four vacant storefront windows across the street from City Hall in December 2006. We asked an Egyptian friend to translate beauty into Arabic. Before we installed the lights, we went into a bodega on Grove Street to see if the translation was correct. It wasn't. The clerk translated the beauty in Arabic. His written translation became Agitators Collective's guide in the installation.
Biography - AGITATORS COLLECTIVE
Agitators Collective, a collaborative project, was co-founded in 2006 in Jersey City, New Jersey by Triple A, Sweet Tooth, and JellyFish. Agitators Collective creates site related installations in urban locales that have fallen into neglect or dereliction in Jersey City, New Jersey.
Agitators Collective: Triple A aka AAA; Sweet Tooth aka Bubsie O' Malley aka B.O.M; Mick Night; Jellyfish aka M.I.A., etc.