Whoever wrote this had various options. The word “Broken” certainly does the job, though “Please knock” would have provided some welcome advice to a first-time visitor, and “Fix me” might have served as a snarky plea for help. If you focus in on the bell itself, you can see that this installation isn’t original to the structure. The paint reveals a previous arrangement, perhaps even a subsequent fix-it job: the missing screw in the upper left suggests failed attempts to address the situation. There’s an immediacy to the writing, to the recognizable heft of the Sharpie, and to the way it follows the contours of the textured exterior wall. Indeed, there’s a finality to “Broken” that makes the word perhaps the most fitting choice. It is poised above the button where, in an alternate universe, or at least a block over, you might find the number of an apartment, or the family name of its dweller. Here there is only the voluminous silence that exists when such a simple device rests longing to be repaired. Some visitor might even ever so briefly ponder if “Broken” is someone’s name, rather than immediately sense it to be both a practical statement about the object and a caption for the underlying emotional state of urban tenancy.
An ongoing series cross-posted from instagram.com/dsqt.