An anti-abortion billboard in Corinth, Mississippi was vandalized last week by the activist art collective INDECLINE off of Highway 72 & Howell Drive (directly across from San Roque Tienda Mexicana), according to a press release from the anonymous visual interventionists.
Members of the collective used spray paint to quickly alter the original message of the advertisement, prompting drivers to visit a website offering information on how to order abortion pills, thus bypassing the potential shutdown of abortion clinics in the state.
This is not the first time the collective has used controversial direct action techniques to address the issue of abortion rights in the South. Last March, the members of the collective altered a billboard in Byhalia to promote abortion services at Planned Parenthood
Months later, the group scaled the iconic Christ of the Ozarks statue in Eureka Springs, Arkansas, and hung a massive banner from its arms reading: GOD BLESS ABORTIONS
The collective just released a film with footage documenting their interventions during the past two years including the Christ of the Ozarks banner. Click HERE to go to the full-length film.
(VIDEO BELOW) To highlight their accomplishments and escapades during 2021 Indecline debuts a full feature movie titled “Side Hustles” today.
Ultimately, it’s a show reel of greatest hits by the activist subverters of public space called InDecline – loosely strung together by an ongoing skit of a formal job interview that seeks to further illuminate the message, but sometimes tires. Anonymous by necessity, this mid-length docu-portfolio gives little indication of the origination of the mainly young, mainly white, and mainly male masked American protagonists of the street art/performance art scene, but you have an idea that it is their politics and disgust that bind them as one.
The various installations range in skill, sophistication, and maturity – but something invariably impresses about each campaign. Clever Photoshop and elbow grease, and you’ve got yourself a subversive art installation that mocks both Easter and Q-Anon. A harrowing cable scaling of a massive statue of Christ to hang a pro-abortion banner looks far more dangerous and physically demanding.
Subverting a billboard to encourage masturbation is perhaps a bit of comic relief from the far heavier topics they target: Busting anti-abortion billboards to offer abortion services contact information, shining a light on police violence, and offering a no-holds barred criticism of a culture that births weekly mass shootings in cities nationwide.
Their methods may be driven by the economics of printing and installing their brand of détournement but the effect can be stunning and direct. A billboard showing off a gunmakers line of ammo says proudly “Born Here. Built Here” across a silhouette of the US map. It infers a national pride, a dedication to the 2nd Amendment, a nod to blue collar labor, and a healthy wallop of xenophobic distrust. InDecline simply replaces one word so the slogan says “Born Here. Killed Here” to refocus attention to the bodies piling up from coast to coast.
Whether its riding freights to spread the ashes of a friend or an earnestly rageful powerchord punk and/or bluegrass country soundtrack or the corporate cluelessness of local news footage, if you stay for the full ride you see the themes that drive the work – and feel a hopeful promise, and a sense of dread.
Canaries in the coal mine for a decade or so in public space, InDecline’s multiple acts of art show how the trendlines all merge. By the time you are finished with the list of societal/political/socio-economic ills that InDecline is addressing through their guerilla art installations, you realize that the country they are responding to is already in the midst of a civil war and the forward path is scabrous.
Our weekly focus on the moving image and art in the streets. And other oddities.
Now screening: 1. Dave Kim & Eric Burke in Alameda 2. INDECLINE: “SIDE HUSTLES” Trailer 3. The Greek Bar Jacket
BSA Special Feature: Dave Kim & Eric Burke in Alameda
Muralists Dave Kim and Eric Burke create an iconic piece for Alameda’s West End on a prominent wall on Webster St.
INDECLINE: “SIDE HUSTLES” Trailer
Stay tuned for tomorrow’s release of the full movie here on BSA
The Greek Bar Jacket
Here’s an hour and eight minute film from the House of Dior. It tells us about the making and the evolution of a collection. There’s no surprise to discover that many fabled collections have been inspired by ancient cultures and their peoples. This particular collection is a tribute to Greece and the designers’ challenge is not to appropriate directly from the culture or make it look like a museum. This film is an excellent complement to the current exhibition at the Brooklyn Museum: “Christian Dior: Designer of Dreams” currently on view until February 20th.
That charming GEICO gecko looks like he’s darned fed-up with the highway police in Memphis, Tennessee. Why else is he telling drivers to defund them?
In an act of detournement worthy of the earliest billboard artists/activists and Letterists, last night the INDECLINE collective altered the text of two displays to make that elegant green gecko rally for pulling the plug on funding the boys in blue, according to the press release they sent out after pulling this artful dodge.
“When we talk about abolishing police, we mean it’s past time to reimagine the system in its entirety,” they say. “Remember, it was once impossible for many Americans to imagine a country not organized around slavery.”
Yes, many would take that point – and “Defund The Police” became a moderately catchy slogan during many marches for rights across the country over the last decade. Unfortunately, it’s a slogan that is confusing and counterproductive, possibly because the police provide valuable services to society as well.
Bashing the institution of police with a baton won’t solve our problems at their root, but pulling the plug entirely doesn’t exactly solve it either, does it? What’s that word everyone loves to use today, nuance?
In the meantime, the time-honored practice of hi-jacking billboards for political or social messages is alive and well.
“Atlanta has long been considered a black Mecca,” the summary of the latest INDECLINE press release opines, “And yet it only takes a quick drive out into the country to be standing at ground zero of the “Lost Cause” narrative.”
Today we have the clever retort of the anonymous art interventionists with an ax to grind – targeted, they say at those who would like to continue the racist systems that have allowed perfectly average folks to feel superior for decades, centuries. INDECLINE says they went undercover to gain the confidence of a Civil War memorabilia store owner to surprise the neighborhood with this mélange of smurfs and clever wordplay on the side of his store.
The action, entitled “Respect Existence or Expect Resistance”, was pulled off in Kennesaw, GA, where the George Floyd protests last summer brought many rough conversations to the fore – including some just outside that store. In the heated and somewhat meandering statement put out by INDECLINE that accompanies these photos, they end with “The smartest thing the Confederates ever did was keep us fighting a war of rhetoric after they lost with cannons.”
The era of fractured attention spans, heightened emotions, and ravaged hierarchical systems for ordering institutions, beliefs, and the truth is ripe for examination and dissection – even if it takes a looking glass to see it.
The anonymous art-activist thinkers at INDECLINE have spawned many interventions in the last decade in public space – intricate and smartly storied at times, obvious and deliberately provocative at others.
For Easter, we appreciate how they cleverly hopped between the pagan practices adapted to Christianity – namely the signs of spring and fertility – and the surrealist White Rabbit of Louis Carroll and the magical beliefs of so-called Q-Anon.
And why not?
For children and adults of many generations, it has been an un-rewarding exercise to parse the bloody crucifixion of Christ who rises from the dead – combined with the story of a human-sized rabbit who breaks into your home at night to leave a colorful woven basket of decorated eggs, jelly beans, and bunnies made of chocolate. This all makes as much sense as the Q-Anon theories alleging that a secret cabal of Satan-worshipping, cannibalisticpedophiles who operate a global child sex-trafficking ring was plotting against former U.S. President Donald Trump while he was in office.
So while Washington DC is supposedly ringed in high-security apparatus since the capital riots, INDECLINE decided to hop through several parks – Garfield Park, Stanton Park, Lovejoy Park, Meridian Hill Park, Rose Park, Logan Circle, Kalorama Park, and Farragut Square – spreading their cheerful and colorful egg-hunt for presumably confused kids and parents to discover yesterday morning while Christians the world over proclaimed “He Is Risen.”
They also hung customized banners that mimicked the kind that may accompany a typical “Egg Hunt” on soft green lawns across parks nationally, subvertising an event sponsored by Q-Anon – filling eggs with packets of cleverly designed Qool-Aid.
An INDECLINE spokesperson says they chose Qanon as the focal point of this series of interactive, engaging public art installations precisely because of the wayward thinking that is necessary to support its evolving theories – and the many dangers of manipulation that are now at play.
“As far as conspiracies go,” they say in a statement, “QAnon has blazed a remarkable and confounding trail into the era of information, organizing itself as an interactive game where adherents are encouraged to become participants, crowdsourcing the narrative through a patchwork of YouTube tutorials and Facebook rants. Supposedly, Q, and insider, is leaving a trail of breadcrumbs for them to follow (originally across Reddit, then into the Chans), and as they collect enough, they are supposed to ‘bake’ them into a full-fledged narrative.”
As the military has gamified the hell of war for a generation of young men, today GenZ is gamifying the stock and currency markets and blockchain gallerists are gamifying art with NFTs, so why not gamify the disinformation industry that distracts us from the Rich v. Everybody battle that is firmly afoot in the 21st century? INDECLINE admits that “the gamified nature of the QAnon conspiracy is really the appeal.” What could possibly go wrong?
Billboard message subversion dates back to at least The Billboard Liberation Front and The Guerrilla Girls undercover antics of the 1970s and 1980s mangling commercial messages to expose their underside or to call out hypocrisy. Later artists like Ron English did scores of billboard “takeovers” that focused on fast food and cereal brands and their links to obesity and diabetes.
Despite an assumed increase in surveillance these days, it is surprising how many artists still get up every year on these high-profile slabs to re-engineer their message, or to put up an entirely new message altogether.
In that tradition, the activist art collective who call themselves INDECLINE say they recently took over a rather plain billboard ad-space from Christian Aid Ministries on Interstate 22 West in Byhalia, Mississippi – re-configuring their message into one they would presumably abhor. Indecline states that the new work offering Planned Parenthood services is “in direct response to lawmakers throughout the South who continue their attempts to overturn Roe v. Wade.”
In a modern twist on this story of detournement, the anonymous crew says they plan to convert the imagery of the vandalized billboard into an NFT. For profit? No, they say they plan to auction it off and give the proceeds to the Planned Parenthood Action Fund.
And this stuff didn’t just start in 2017. Regardless which millionaire is in or has been in the White House or which millionaires are in the presidents cabinet or which millionaire is telling you what the news is on CNBCFOXMSABCBS, your neighbors’ collective standard of living has been going down for decades and even life expectancy is going backward.
Identity politics will not put food in the cupboard or give you healthcare.
We badly need reconciliation with each other. If we keep fighting each other we are more easily divided, and conquered. And the next demagogue will be far more competent. Now with a new president-elect, America has a lot of work as we head into the Greater Depression.
When it comes to street art New York’s streets always tell us what time it is.
Here is our weekly interview with the streets, this week featuring Baston714, BKFoxx, Buff Monster, Consume Art, Dylan Egon, Go Paint the World, Indecline, NNR, Peachee Blue, Pure Genius, Matt Siren, Tony DePew, and Timothy Goodman.
Director Colin M. Day is probably having a riotous one right now because his new film debuts on Rolling Stone today; as The Art of Protest takes you through a landscape of dissent and resistance and guerilla-style art installation.
Focused primarily on behind-the-scenes antics and laudatory reviews of the in-your-face and theatrical performances of the anonymous Indecline Collective, whose various works have appeared here for over a decade, you’re challenged to separate the constructive from the destructive. To add nuance, as the university types are likely to say today, Day smartly broadens the scope to help put provocative actions of these artist/activists into a greater context of political protest in its myriad creative forms over the last half-century. As usual, history helps us understand this moment, and to seize it.
Offering insights and interviews from activist artists of many stripes and disciplines, including Nadya Tolokonnikova, Jello Biafra, Shepard Fairey, and Igor Vamos of The Yes Men, you’ll quickly understand that the struggle for most of these artists is a principled one, whether articulated in a shocking tenor or a puzzling subversive one. In addition to art on the street from Fairey, it is good to see many artists we have featured here multiple times such as ROA, Bordallo II, Cleon Peterson, Monica Canilao, Blek le Rat, Ron English, and Jesse Hazlip. Each has a distinctly different style, yet a very similar determination to use their art as an extension of speech. In a sea of discord and disinformation, these strident voices come through clearly.
“The days of passively making art for arts’ sake ended a long time ago,” says musician Moby, and the film drives the message home in each one of its 45 minutes.
Directed by Colin M. Day (Saving Banksy), the film premieres on RollingStone.com on Tuesday, October 13th at 9:00am EST.
Our weekly focus on the moving image and art in the streets. And other oddities.
Now screening : 1. Doug Gillen/Fifth Wall TV: Is New Brighton a future model for the British Sea Side Town? 2. Lidia Cao. Tribute to Dolores Medio. Parees Fest 2020 3. INDECLINE: On Second Thought. A reflection on gun violence in collaboration with artist David Fay.
BSA Special Feature: Visit a Sea Side Town with Doug Gillen
You can’t really send out a gilded invitation to your cousin Gentrification to come visit and be surprised when his emotionally draining wife and video-game playing snot-nosed kids are in the car with him. When you use words like “platform” to describe art-washing of a town, and your organization has a “brand director”, there won’t be much surprise when the moneyed professionals complain that music at the curated-bar across the street is keeping their new baby awake at night.
Doug at Fifth Wall is more surreptitiously stealthy than ever, gradually upping his stealthy-stealthitude as he lets this story basically tell itself while posing as a merely curious art-fan.
The story is literally everywhere you look right now, and apolitical, non-confrontational Street Art and murals are almost always intercedent. A small town is sucked dry after decades of neo-liberal economics and back-room political deals, leaving a godless lot feeling listless and depressed without prospects for the future. Broad strokes, but you’ve undoubtedly heard the concept proffered by real estate investors that comes next.
“Yes there’s a commercial side to it but there is also very much a community element to what we’ve been doing,” says one male voice as the camera scans some run-down architecture with good bones and historical character. They’ve been buying up properties and “introducing a new independent concept into them”.
You predict what comes in this chapter; small portions of fussy food, art galleries, street art, vinyl!, kooky cafes with drip coffee and cold brew, clever grandma-anti-fashion fashion, artisanal cheeses, greater police presence and the occasional night-time social cleansing of hardscrabble types pushed into other neighborhoods.
Next step, edgy
lifestyle brands will need some quirky space to set up shop.
trying to keep the big boys out of our little part of town.”
“2020 is a year calling out for change,” says Doug in his wrap-up, but he knows this particular model is not at all new. It’s still a reaction to the devastation, and we all seem to be trapped in it. Even so, this can be a kind of rejuvenation that many small towns would ache for and there is reason to think that the formula can be configured to be more just to those who will get displaced – if you’re dedicated to it.
And your cousin Gentrification could be cool to hang out with, even if his very classy wife gently insults your wife and the décor of your home and the food you eat and the music you listen to.
Doug Gillen/Fifth Wall TV: Is New Brighton a future model for the British Sea Side Town?
Lidia Cao. Tribute to Dolores Medio. Parees Fest 2020
Lidia Cao paints a portrait of Dolores Medio, the Spanish writer, teacher, and journalist for the Parees Festival in Spain in this short video by Titi Muñoz.
INDECLINE: On Second Thought. A reflection on gun violence in collaboration with artist David Fay.
600 decommissioned weapons were
combed over and refashioned by Las Vegas based artist David Fay into this
semi-kinectic sculpture that recalls Rodin’s “The Thinker”. In an America that
is fascinated by weapons, at least in movies and television, this sculpture may
make people think, or not.
Our weekly focus on the moving image and art in the streets. And other oddities.
Now screening : 1. Plain Brutality Again: Jacob Blake. 2. INDECLINE: Get Dead – Pepper Spray 3. Shepard Fairey: Arts Vote 2020
BSA Special Feature: Plain Brutality Again: Jacob Blake
The violence against black people continues. The latest shooting of a black American citizen by the police took place in Kenosha, Wisconsin where a police officer shot Jacob Blake on Sunday.
Mr. Blake, a father, a son, a brother, and uncle, was shot seven times by the police as he leaned into the driver’s seat of his car resulting in Mr. Blake being paralyzed and unable to walk and under intensive care at the hospital. Yet he is being handcuffed to his bed. Mr. Blake was not carrying a weapon.
Are we only to add his name to the endless list of black and brown people brutalized and killed? Here we post a recent short film that examines this moment in American history as well as through the lens of system racism.
Voices from the Black Lives Matters Protests ( A short film) Vanity Fair
INDECLINE: Get Dead – Pepper Spray
An amalgam of blinding rage and graffiti, anti-authoritarian self-destructive vandalism melded into a demand for the end of state-sponsored violence played out to a raspy-voiced tirade and gutter-crunch guitars and drums. Many of society’s contradictions are here on display for all to see.