Reclaiming Public Space: Artists Tripping Over Each Other to Help

There don’t seem to be buckets of money funding these Public Ad Campaigns to do this switch-a-roo stuff but the people who create and execute them are so earnest and straight-talking…  And from what we have witnessed and heard, artists of all stripes everywhere are lending them a hand in taking over advertising space.

Trend alert! Give it a name! Commodify it! I have the Tumbler page ready.

This week in Toronto a large number of illegally posted spaces were re-posted with art, by street artists and otherwise.  Revolutionary? Not really, unless the aforementioned MONEY is an issue.

In an explanation of the project, a press release for the installation says this:

“While it is understood that commercial messages do not share our collective interests, we still do not question its use of our shared environments. In an effort to invigorate debate about how commercial interests are using public space and raise questions about how our communities desire to use those same spaces, non-violent civil disobedience projects like TOSAT engage the public in a dialogue of participation.”

Brooklyn-Street-Art-WEB-Toronto-Public-Art-tosat

Brooklyn’s Bast in Toronto is replacing an ad in one of 41 allegedly illegal kiosk displays.

For filmmaker Sarah Berman, who made the brief and to-the-point documentary (below) with Jordan Seiler and friends, it is all about taking back public space that has been illegally seized by corporations. When you consider that just a couple of years ago Jordan was pretty much a lone wolf howling about illegal billboards, and this year the City of New York BOOTED one giant company who had been plastering willy-nilly all over Gotham thousands of posters – it sounds like the message resonates.Brooklyn-Street-Art-Toronto-Public-Art-QuelBeast_2

Brooklyn’s Quel Beast in Toronto

And today it’s not only the Public Ad Campaign who is reclaiming public space – you’ll notice an up-tick in the PosterBoy-ish messing with subway posters in the last months. You can dismiss it as pranksterism – but perhaps that’s just on the surface. Maybe it’s also because today’s teens and twenty-somethings have been cajoled and hoodwinked from every angle to buy “stuff” since the forceps clamped their soft skulls – and they see where all of that breathless pursuit of “stuff” has gotten us.  Maybe it is just because freedom of speech is a deeply rooted need and certain parts of “the public” want to give, not just receive, messages.

Sarah Berman explains Corporate Graffiti with Jordan and John.

Spoiler Alert: Artists Win

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