Love Buttons, 2008, 5-hour temporary public art/participatory event
Designed as a participatory event for festivalgoers attending a rhythm-and-blues festival on a Sunday afternoon in April, Love Buttons dispersed a sea of poetry into a crowd of 4,000. Buttons were given to attendees as they entered the festival grounds. A button might say You under-punctuate m.e, or beauti-fully, or RADIATE.
Many festivalgoers engaged with the three Have More Love carts: They could choose to “exchange some love” - exchange their button for another with one of 45 different messages; “buy more love” - buy longer poems comprised of several other button messages; or “make more love” - borrow a frisbee that says hover over me. If they played with the frisbee long enough, they got to keep it. The patterns of connection inherent in the poetic language were also reflected in a smattering of signs (oversized versions of the buttons themselves) mounted to lampposts across the festival grounds.
The more than 9,000 buttons distributed first functioned as an event ticket (a commodity), then a kind of wearable art, which then became both interactive and performative in nature. A Robert Indiana LOVE sculpture establishes a context for the festival grounds. The temporary project provided renewed currency and expanded meaning to the themes embedded in the Indiana cultural artifact. More importantly, advocating for love in the center of a city known for its bourgeois consumption becomes an act of subversion.
Click here to go to the Love Buttons, Love Bites website.