It has been a worldwide trend many years now to remove benches in cities or make them unattractive and uncomfortable for people not to spend too much time on them. Meaning of the particular familiar object culturally and environmentally is interesting. Placed on roadsides, parks, malls, yards and gardens to rest and lay back. To whom this luxury is for? How is this object important other than a stopping place? Mere seeing a bench makes me think about comfort of sitting quietly looking at the surroundings, being still and visible. It is an open situation to sit in public place. Bench is a kind of dream itself and a statement. As we supposedly live a time of making the most out of everything laying back is a slightly negative term which have to be reasoned with, which we cannot afford to allow ourselves. We do it too much or too little. Neither can we afford to let homeless or youth hang around our benches nor any place. They make their marks on them, break them and chase away tax paying citizens and their comfort. True, broken city furniture is sad and is telling me of frustration and lack of meaningful activity.
I look at these brown benches we have in my neighborhood. Yes, not hugely charming or inviting. They do not make me want to spend time sitting on them, but I like to have them to remind me that there is this possibility of sitting down, looking, breathing slowly and observing. Our benches do make me want to disturb the horrid chosen aesthetics of theirs, lack of any aesthetics which could be something else than just practical and cheap. Suburbia benches are less attractive than the ones in the center, less money is spend on them here far away from visitors’ eyes. They are just fine and enough. How to enjoy a city? Sitting and enjoying the environment, spending time doing nothing is not welcomed. Time is wasted. What kind of waste is constructing making? Benches are there to fulfill courtesy and obligation of the city to bring joy to its people.
I want to add not remove. Anything that might please the eye is in the mind, imagined and is culturally bound. I look for it and something else. I see much of beauty, but are we able to make beauty for public places anymore. To please the eye is to please the brain, bring pleasure via seen beauty. It seems we cannot afford beauty, to give beauty to a place or maybe the concept of beauty now is completely something I don’t grasp. It is perhaps redefined or unimportant. Maybe we do not care what we see and make for our cities, because they are not ours. We do not have power over them.
If people are not allowed to sit down and stay in one spot without constantly physically moving what kind of city do we make? And if aesthetics of such small but highly important detail of any city is not regarded and noted for what does it do to our thinking and living not to mention to our bodies? What happens when benches are removed altogether? Will we begin to enjoy our lawns?
We stand together! Don’t forget to stretch. http://www.whatartis.org/aestheticAntiAesthetics.html Aesthetics is a privilege. Doing nothing was a privilege.