The Collector

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I named Matt Haffner's film noir-meets-graffiti public-art project Serial City, done as part of last year’s Atlanta Celebrates Photography, as one of my top 10 visual-arts picks of 2006:

Serial City: Matt Haffner, locations around the city -- Public art in Atlanta can often be a drably civic affair, but this Atlanta photographer's Atlanta Celebrates Photography project, of wheat-pasting large black-and-white photo murals around the city, proved public art could be edgy, engaging and tip a hat to other public forms, from film and graffiti to culture jamming and political propaganda.

Haffner's project was one of the better public-art projects this city has seen in a long while. The inventiveness of Serial City, which truly worked across a broad spectrum of the city from Castleberry Hill to Decatur, illustrated how moribund and dull the city's approach -- when it approached public art at all -- to public art could be.

But with Haffner’s project last year -- and then the Jason Fulford Paper Placemats project for ACP 2007 in which artists’ photographs on placemats were placed in restaurants around the city -- ACP is setting the bar high for fresh, engaging work by artists with a distinct point of view and with an inclusive sense of the diversity of Atlanta’s public spaces. Both of those projects shared an element of surprise, a sense of playfulness and the ability to inject art into daily life.

But I’m not the only one to recognize the uniqueness of Haffner’s interaction with the city.

Joe Massey, a respected and longtime supporter of photography in the city, has donated funds through his foundation for Atlanta Celebrates Photography to the Museum of Contemporary Art of Georgia to acquire Haffner's Serial City series. The 13-piece series marks the first time that ACP has acquired work so that its public-art project lives on.

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