Strolling through the city, you hear the unmistakable sound of a busker, but you seem to have trouble finding him. All you see is a ghettoblaster with a paper cup on top. Ehm..?
Well, it refers to Songs for Thomas Piketty, an art project by Dutch artist Dries Verhoeven and co-commissioned by International Art Manifestation Hacking Habitat. Verhoeven places his ‘begging boom boxes’ across the city, each of them with a saucer on top. Through the speakers of the boom boxes pump various songs, alternated by a polite “Change, please”.
Verhoeven’s art project is a statement towards today’s society. While economists like Thomas Piketty point out an increasing gap between rich and poor for the coming years, we simultaneously clean our streets by making begging an illegal practice and drive the homeless from the streets. By doing so, the public domain as a reflection of society becomes strongly biased and is thereby disappearing.
Songs for Thomas Piketty lets the boom box take over the busker’s role in society, literally — the boom boxes are placed at former spots of buskers and homeless, while some messages are even voiced by them. With this attention-grabbing intervention, Verhoeven wants to start a conversation on the visibility of poverty, and raise stronger awareness about an increasing inequality within society.