Ever Get The Feeling You’ve Been Cheated?
Hi-jacking of billboards and signage is part of the grand legacy of Street Art and one that we consider part of the daily conversation on the street. From the Billboard Liberation Front to the Situationists to Jenny Holzer and John Fekner, the simple act of re-framing public/private space and the messages within it began at least forty or fifty years ago, and the critiques continue apace today with various forms of culture jamming and high-minded/low brow hijinks.
Stovington23. Bedford, England. March 2014. (photo © Stovington23)
It’s an ongoing struggle to claim what is called public space, physically as well as what advertisers claim as the real estate of our minds. These artists are thinking first, then hoping to short-circuit, questioning our learned acceptance of commercial ideas and views of the world. Some say that this activist form is successful only if it raises questions and awareness. If it falls short of those goals, it may be interpreted as a prank, a cryptic insider joke, or form of poetic conceptual art evoking feelings of ennui.
Stovington23. Feltham, England. April 2014. (photo © Stovington23)
The Street Art collective Stovington23 from the UK engages the spirit of détournement by employing the simplest of forms, the stencil letter, in some of the most banal pseudo public spaces like shopping centers. In black and white photos that they provide here it appears that they add a well placed rejoinder or slogan very near the names and slogans that greet you as you enter the store, or see from the highway as you drive by.
“We want to take advertising techniques – the crafted slogan, the well-chosen billboard spot – and turn them against the admen’s corporate paymasters,” they tell BSA when describing the motivations for this conception. As always, work like this is open to interpretation, and we would love to be in the parking lot with a sound recorder interviewing people about their impressions upon first seeing things like, “One Day This Will be a Bombsite,” or an earlier installment of the Johnny Rotten quote “Ever Get The Feeling You’ve Been Cheated?”
Stovington23. Leeds, England. March 2014. (photo © Stovington23)
Stovington23. Romford, England. April 2014. (photo © Stovington23)
Stovington23. Staines, England. May 2014. (photo © Stovington23)
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