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Athern's Agora

Urban Megaphones Encourage Debate in the Agora


Florian Riviére installed megaphones throughout the most important locations in Paris. The word as a civic weapon is extolled: this intervention implies the renewal of the public square and its meaning.

The public square, known as the agora in Ancient Greece, was essential to democracy. This place was used to come together and discuss; here citizens could practice their freedom of speech, and opinion was wrapped up with meaning.

Public squares represent, at least symbolically, belonging to a collective: this is where social movements and demands are made. This is precisely why a city should be the extension of the agora. With this in mind, the urban artist, Florian Riviére, makes aesthetic interventions in the city, and he re-appropriates public space. One of the creations however, the installation of public megaphones, stands out from the rest because of its profound meaning.

We all have reflections based on our own personal narrative, our thoughts and beliefs, but we are not used to expressing them on the streets. Riviére’s megaphones encourage public expression in open and highly transited spaces. The exteriorization of ideas is relevant because it enriches and reinvigorates culture —the gears that define and are defined by the behavior and beliefs of those who develop collectively.

Riviére’s general urban intervention is called Urban Hacking, and it is closely related to humor. This artist wants to trigger sympathy within everyday coexistence.  While some of his ideas acutely criticize the dehumanization of cities, generally, Riviére bets on inspiration much more than on denouncement. The public megaphone pushes the recreation of ideas and expression as the incentive of cultural cohesion. We all have something to say, even if we choose to ignore the megaphone, we are making a statement.

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