Canemorto (Dead Dog) at the Side of Road

There is something about the billboard takeover that still feels like a world of possibilities untapped. Billboard Liberation Front showed how to subvert with style, and urban pranksters like Ron English showed how to integrate soft social critique in the détournement dance, but in many cases the visual language has remained within the advertising rubric.

Canemorto shows that it’s possibly even more arresting to repurpose a commercial space with blunt hand-rendered artistic imperfection, converting the space into an actual painters canvas.


Canemorto. Milano, Italy. (photo © Canemorto)

We have grown completely accustomed to the slick billboards alongside highways luring us with $69 motels and attorneys who promise to make you rich if you just put on a neck brace and dial 1-800-WESUE4U. When they are thoughtfully subverted/inverted/perverted you may run the risk of missing the new message entirely, so inured we have become to the medium and its methods.

Italy’s Canemorto troupe thinks that a large raw Picassoesque portrait painted on it, however maniacal and disturbed it may be, is an improvement. It is also possible that this visual jolt will cause you to steer your car into a ditch. Still, a wild-eyed portrait is possibly more edifying than seeing a real estate tycoon comb-over or a warning about the Judgement Day that came and left you here with the sinners.

Canemorto shared some images here of roadside madness they recorded last summer including three new pieces off a highway near Milan. They admit that the pieces themselves “are not our best”, but the personal hand, the brute rawness of the images, make them stand out in this impersonal no-mans land and offer perhaps a counterbalance to a different sort of  brutishness that sends roaring truck and car traffic to saw jaggedly through the natural beauty we inherited.


Canemorto. Milano, Italy. (photo © Canemorto)


Canemorto. Milano, Italy. (photo © Canemorto)