CELEBRATING TOURISM-John Dietrich
CELEBRATING TOURISM- John Dietrich
Lucy Lippard’s journey through tourism in “On The Beaten track” plays into the on-going question of responsibility. Who is responsible for tourism’s affect on people and place. Is it the responsibility of those who are residents in a tourist environment, or those who are the actual tourists, or both? As she explains, it’s that simple notion that “Tourists often make ordinary places extraordinary just by showing up”. Tourism is an economic boost to any locale, so to what extremes, bearing what result, will a community go, to pour dollars into their pockets? Class, culture, tradition and personal satisfaction all play roles into the welcoming of tourism into a community as in the example of the RV Park being proposed on Sagadahoc Bay. The problem is finding collective reasoning and a common plan to move in the right direction that will satisfy all involved. Everyone’s reasoning for the RV park not existing was different: environmental, financial, or just nostalgic, but how do you find a proposal that will be “best” for all? We can complain all we want about the result of an action but as in the case of the redevelopment of Times Square, and all the backlash regarding its’ being Disneyfied, too often it’s “our own failure to propose a better idea.” As in the case of the World Trade Center Memorial being planned at Ground Zero. A battle has raged for years, by the families who have lost loved ones, over the appropriate design that will be the “best” means of paying tribute. As long as there are thousands of opinions involved, you will be left with people who will never be satisfied with the end result. Unfortunately, what is lost sight of is the fact that a memorial, in whatever form, will forever be a symbol of remembrance.
Lucy’s discussion on numerous artists’ roles in voicing opinion about tourism through art, seemed to have a common thread in the obvious purpose of making a statement, more often in the destruction of society or community as a result of tourism, and the ignorance toward a locations true sociological problems. The art is often a platform for the activists approach to sparking public outcry. And that is a fine and affective way of using art, and for getting people to take notice or simply think differently. It is just another convention.
However, the art, whether viewed by the resident or the tourist offers an unexpected dimension or level of adventure to the experience. You won’t find it in the brochure or on a travel poster. It is more often something unexpected upon arrival and that is its’ impact. A new discovery, a way to think about the journey differently. As in the Ohio tourist brochure, it is a device that asks us to simply “open our eyes a little wider.” In most cases art is visual, which makes it easily accessible to everyone. Every culture, every ethnic group, every class level. A message will get out no matter how varied the interpretation.
One last notion of tourism that Lucy emphasizes is the purpose of escape. In an intense, highly technological, fast-paced world of today has tourism swung more and more toward leisure, fantasy and escapism? Are we seeking comfort through familiarity or are we trying to find that unspoiled place where the rest of “them” won’t be? An interesting location and concept to look at is a community called “Celebration, Florida”. An idea that is centered around being a tourist at home. It is a town built on the premise of rediscovering “Main Street U.S.A- part fantasy, part nostalgia, part escapism, part familiarity. It is built on the Walt Disney World property in Florida and is an extension of Walt Disney’s dream of a planned community of tomorrow. However it captures all the ideals of an Americana Home Town. Houses designed in a nostalgic small town sense with large front porches so you can wave to your neighbors, a village square with a lake that has rocking chairs on its’ boardwalk to enjoy warm summer evenings, the local movie theatre and ice cream parlor as well as its’ own school system and police department. Of course intermingled with this are fine restaurants and some high-end retail stores. A town in which, if you don’t want to face the problems of the ever-changing world outside, you can stay within’ its’ borders and listen to the crickets chirp at night and know that Celebration will remain safe and familiar. There have been studies done, and Celebration has discovered its’ share of problems but it is a fascinating look at a combination of urban planning, tourism and the need to create the perfect place.
From the website:
CELEBRATION is a community built on a foundation of cornerstones: Community, Education, Health, Technology, and a Sense of Place.