Brisbane’s Bitter Bench Battle

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Filed under: Creative Activism, Culture Jamming and Reality Hacking, Pranksters

‘Bitter bench’ which tilts forward when used part of unknown artists’ group protest against Brisbane City Council’s response to homelessness
by Robyn Ironside
The Courier-Mail
February 3, 2012

PUBLIC transport users are literally being thrown off their seats in bus shelters as part of a bizarre protest against the Brisbane City Council’s apparent response to homelessness.

An “unofficial” public artwork in William St, the city, features a bench that tilts forward when used – tipping people off.

A spokesman for the artists’ group, who wanted to remain anonymous, said the so-called “bitter bench” was installed without council permission on the site of a recently removed bus shelter popular among Brisbane’s homeless.

“We installed the artwork to draw attention to a side of the city being airbrushed away in the interests of commercial priorities,” the spokesman said.

“It seems the more business-friendly Brisbane becomes, the more the city’s most vulnerable are targeted for harassment and contempt.”

Joe Hurley, of the West End Community Centre, said most of the seats in bus shelters had been removed in the past few years, at the request of local businesses.

“It has the effect of moving on homeless people to spaces that are much less public and much less visible,” Mr Hurley said.

“It also impacts seniors, who get quite perturbed that the bus seats are missing.”

A spokesman for Lord Mayor Graham Quirk denied the council made a decision to deliberately remove seats from shelters.

But Cr Helen Abrahams said a stocktake of public seats around West End found eight of 15 seats installed by the Soorley administration had been pulled out.