The Beach Beneath the Streets – Impossible Wants

Impossible Wants is a collaborative project, lead by Laurencia Strauss and Maura Pellettieri.

When the Situationists spoke of “the beach beneath the street,” they brought what was unseen to the surface of language.

As city dwellers, we romanticize stability, in our lives and on the roads we travel–when in fact, very little in our lives is static. Impossible Wants is an experimental and collaborative exchange among local poets, artists, the St. Louis public, and City street repair crews, in which we investigate what is unresolvable about ourselves and the place where we live.

Over the past year, we have been making public space for this conversation. A team of poets have set up poetry booths in the city, beginning a series of interdependent actions that seed poems and tile-drawings, which City crews then embed into the street. With this array of participants, we are disrupting, as well as facilitating, social and spatial ecologies. We are using intentional and unintentional mark-making—writing, drawing, and cracks we create in our infrastructure as we traverse the city—as a way to reflect on our individual and collective wants.

The private space of the self and the public space of the city are connected as we mine questions. How do we accept or strategize around what feels impossible? How do we find a way to adapt? How are we part of or apart from the conflicts and unspoken desires of our city? We believe that this edge of impossibility can feed creative practice or be a call to action.

Here is the originating point og the phrase “The Beach Beneath the Streets”  photographed in french.

The tiles embedded in asphalt were inspired by this mysterious project – The Toynbee tiles, which also provided the image


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