Road signs are a form of communication prescribing a particular system of interaction that people should observe on the roads. This kind of communication has something in common with visual art, which conveys messages through visual images. However, art is ambivalent and complex to interpret. Road signs by definition lack the ambiguous multi-dimensionality of interpretations. They just forbid, allow and dictate: one’s physical safety depends on the clarity of their messages.
Through a minimal gesture (in relation to the surface of the actual road sign) of making a small incision – essentially adding nothing, only taking away – Kadyrova fundamentally changes the sign’s message, thus transforming the semiotics of road signs into the semiotics of art. Thus, a person seemingly hit by a car unexpectedly receives an escape hatch, offering the potential opportunity to get out of the dangerous situation. Pedestrians and bicyclists acquire new lanes and an exit from the claustrophobic space of the closed sign field; and a worker digging a hole finds an additional place for piling
up dirt, now without the risk of being buried under the debris from his labor and with the possibility of completely avoiding uncomfortable labor relations through a door cut in the closed plane.
Signs also played a part in Kadyrova’s interactive project presented in Wroclaw in summer 2010, for the Ukrainian-Polish project “Art Training: Urban Games.” Aiming to reconfigure the mental landscape of the city, the artist positioned volunteers holding transformed road signs along a specified route, thus creating an alternative way to move through the city. A similar quest-game in the city space was created to lead people away from Wroclaw’s tourist center, filled with cheap souvenirs and expensive restaurants, and show them the city’s other culturally significant spots. The cutouts in the road signs symbolized an exit into other psycho-physical dimensions that enrich all urban spaces and cannot merely be reduced to the standard list of tourist attractions.