Civics and Shame in New York’s Age of the Mask

This project culminated in a written Medium post (link) that was shared on my various social media channels.

The project included observing urban etiquette posters and making my own that I then posted around the East Village and Tompkins Square Park. 

Writing this was a real study in taking enough time to let the idea fully come out. I had made some early drafts at the start of April, and struggled with the tone and delivery of the message. I was too caught up in getting into the details of my own research around shame and voting, and also it was hard to find a note that didn't read as too passive an advocacy for mask wearing. 

A second big moment was using my photos of the posters I was seeing as an anchor for the argument and essay. They ended up being the linchpin of the article, but I hadn't really considered the possibility of photojournalism/design ethnography to help concretize my writing.  

Realizing that I too could make and post my own posters was a big moment in this project and also in my practice. It gave me a way of being an active interlocutor and community participant, as opposed to a bystander, and in doing so, gave me a firmer ground to stand on (or so I felt), in making my particular case. It also further helped make the project specific in its scope and scale: this particular moment in time, in this particular neighborhood, and an analysis in the specific medium of urban etiquette posters.


These went through a few iterations, but the goal was something with limited text, in my stick-figure vernacular, that conveyed an optimistic and collectivist rallying cry.

(Update) The 9th street A-1 Block Association put up new posters in June that I saw and I think are more aligned with my advocacy and approach. I don't know what inspired their take, but I'd like to think we're both part of a similar collective effort.

The set of posters includes 4 different messages, but in particular I like this one with its reference to Milton Glaser's I Love New York logo. 

EVGrieve article link here