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their recurrence – same same but different. Always the same phone number. Always the same nondescript item to be sold – a sofa, a fridge, a bed, a TV. It is not hard to find a commentary here on the state of the contemporary capitalist world of the disposable white good and other detritus of the middle-class home. Finally, there is always the same mystery: who is the finder, writer, placer of these objects and why does he/she do it? Over the years I have tried many times to call the number on the objects I have seen and collected, always to no avail. When I started writing this article I again tried to call, and again was directed straight to a phone company voice mail: ‘the person you have called is not available.’ In my mind this made it pretty clear that the advertisements written on the objects were not real, for there was no person at the end of the line with products to part with for a nominal fee. Of course, as luck would have it, my mother – a persistent investigator and self-described ‘hound’ – dialled the number one evening and was greeted by the voice of an older man with a thick Greek accent. It turned out that he did indeed have sofas to sell, at least that is what he told my mother. What was I to make of this? Having already begun writing this article with a particular conception of the sign writer – an unknown entity, no voice, no

gender, no clear functional purpose for his/her signs – I was now forced to take into consideration this man’s ostensible intention. Alas, when I tried to call him the following day I played the wrong card, telling him straight up that I was writing an article on his signs and then asking for an interview. As soon as the words had left my lips… dial tone. This man did not want the kind of attention I was giving him, for reasons we can only speculate upon. Perhaps he just wanted to get back to sales. My artist, author of the coveted signs, remained elusive and every time I tried to call him back I was put straight through to the same old voice mail. But, you know, that kind of suited me. Whatever this sign writer’s intentions might actually be, there is something about his creations that transcends their apparent function, dragging them into the realm of Art. However, I can’t help but believe that his intentions fit somehow with my interpretations. Of course, I am not alone in my aesthetic interest in the sign writer’s work. In a show in 2004 at SLOT space on Regent Street, Tony Twigg, a Redfern local and artist, amassed a collection of signs that he had found on the streets over the course of two months. Twigg also exhibited photos of the objects as they had originally been placed on the streets. In an essay to accompany the 2004 display, Twigg and his partner Gina Fairley emphasise the importance of the objects’ ‘strate-

December 2012  
December 2012  

Art Tribes of Sydney