Public service messages are not always thought of as art. However, Urban Photo has found some beautiful mural and mosaic PSA’s in the back allies of a Shanghai and Suzhou. The messages that accompany these colorful displays generally provide “Party-like slogans” that,
…reminded the lane’s former residents of behaviors that went along with a civilized society: protecting the environment (绿化美化，保护环境), maintaining neighborly and familial harmony (邻里团结，家庭和睦) (with the classic two grandparents-two parents-one child family structure), keeping law and order (遵纪守法，遵纪秩序), helping others (in the footsteps of the exemplary revolutionary hero Lei Feng, 学习雷锋，助人为乐) and promoting the belief in science to combat superstitions (普及科学破除迷).
Urban Photo’s stories reminded me of a few posters I noticed this summer in a traditional neighborhood in Shanghai. These posters used cartoons to inform residents of “proper behavior” while foreigners were in Shanghai for the Expo. They were part of a larger campaign that urged Shanghai’s residents not to spit, wear pajamas in public and to generally avoid being rude to tourist.
Sadly though these lanes of traditional low density housing, where such public service art is displayed, are quickly disappearing. As Urban Photo pointed out Ruihua Lane in Shanghai is scheduled to be demolished in the near future. This leads me to wonder how many other Chinese cities have hidden public service art in their historic allies?