DIY Guerilla Fun

DIY Guerilla Fun

By Ryan Ringer

I’m developing a series of workshops, some of which stem from on my own artistic interests – namely urban life, public space and our relationship to the built environment. One of these workshops will be a practical introduction to guerilla art. (Guerilla art meaning, in this context, any anonymous work – stenciling, performance, decoration – executed  in public space with the intention of sparking transformative moments of wonder in the urban landscape.) On brainstorming workshop ideas, I got to thinking about cool guerilla projects I’ve experienced personally. One of my faves is the Swap Box, which I stumbled on while wandering along on Bank Street downtown Ottawa.

The Swap Box is a cute little wooden box – a kind of community trading post – (anonymously) installed on construction hoarding inviting passers-by to “Take somethin’, Leave Somethin’”. Simple as that. No exchange of money. No locks or keys. No sales persons. Just a friendly honours-system kind of exchange.  Smiling to myself – and, I admit, looking around all stealthy-like to see whether someone was watching me – I took from the box a brand-new yellow bungee cord and left in its place a 1987 Canadian silver dollar I happened to be carrying around. A fair trade, no?…

To this day, I wonder what became of the Swap Box and who took that silver dollar. The Swap Box was a successful project. It’s a playful, fun tool for reconsidering how we interact with others and our urban surroundings. And it’s a relatively easy DIY project that almost anyone can build and implement (hint hint)!

March 29, 2010