April 26, 2009

reclaimed for art

Something monumental happened this weekend in NYC. A group of people demanded their public space back and they did it with remarkable artistic success. Pissed off and turned off by the force fed obtrusive nature of advertisements in the neighborhood, a group organized by Jordan Seiler took over 120 billboards. The program aptly named "New York Street Advertising Takeover" was 4 months of coordination. All the billboards were white washed by dozens of volunteers wearing orange vests on Saturday the 25th.

Followed by 40-80 artists (who will be named later...hard to tell who all was involved at this point) who transformed the once ad space into pieces of extraordinary art.

This guerrilla-style transformation was illegal per se, but was in retaliation of illegal activity by the actual advertisements themselves. You see, billboards have to be registered with the city. The owner of these billboards, NPA Outdoor, has over 500 street level billboards in the city, 132 which are illegal (or not registered with New York City). Although illegal, they are rarely prosecuted allowing them to dominate our public neighborhood and collect big time profits at the same time.

Obviously a well coordinated effort between Jordan, the volunteers and the artists. Most likely done in conjunction with or the knowledge of Municipal Landscape Control Committee of New York City because they were able to pinpoint exact billboards that were illegal. Many activists have been in contact with NYC Department of Buildings in regards to the invasion of advertisements by NPA Outdoor.

Many of the pieces I have seen thus far contained messages of pro art, self choice and anti-consumerism.

Stay tuned for actual artist participation and more pieces of work.

Pics taken from here and here and here.

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