The Troll Under the Bridge‏

Al Billings

Bouldin Creek flows south near our apartment complex here in Austin and passes under a short bridge on Cumberland Road. The bridge’s primary function is to conduct traffic, and it’s alternate task is to support the creek’s banks and keep them from eroding. To that end, the City of Austin has flung various disparate combinations of concrete and limestone block at the creek’s banks.

Facing north from below the bridge, the viewer will immediately notice that the abutment layerings greatly resemble an enormous cheeseburger. Perhaps the architect skipped breakfast one morning and let his empty stomach overrule his architectural judgment.

Nature seeks containment. The stream’s banks, our sexual appetites, and the weight of the water itself seek the low ground, honoring gravity’s inescapable flow. Containment creates tension, both limiting and compressing our desires.

Street artists scar the creek’s banks with bits of red glass grouted to the sidewalk below the bridge, and repeat the pattern down-stream. As usual, these amateurish dabblings trail a path of formless artsy catastrophe. One of the signature weaknesses of Street Art is that it is generally suffused with “Whimsy,” and entirely devoid of creative tension. The culprit can only think to repair the disaster by deploying more of what never worked in the first place, like trying to stabilize a wobbly table by shortening its legs with a hand saw. The clearest solution is to beat them with axe handles until they stop, but no one can fully contain these idiots and their artistic meanderings. Let us pray.

February 9, 2012 11:16 pm

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