Apr 26, 2009

WE DON'T WANT ADS, WE WANT ART

(Bowery and Great Jones)

update: (IF YOU GOT HERE AFTER April 28th THE VIDEO IS ALREADY UP IN A NEWER POST)

Dear Spanish readers, forgive me but this post will be in English because I want some American friends to be able to read it (y seguro que entendéis inglés). Today was a very special day in New York. Some wonderful artists gave this city a wonderful gift: they took over about 120 billboards spread around donwntown Manhattan, painted them on white and replaced the advertisements they usually hold with art. Real art, the kind that doesn't sell products but spreads joy, curiosity, culture and smiles. Thanks to a daring team whose main brain was the guy behind Public Ad Campaign, (here a link in Spanish about him, Posterboy and Public Ad Campaign) New York became the landscape of the most fun and beautiful guerrilla- style art project I've witnessed in this city in a very long time.


(12th and 3rd Av)

Their reason wasn't only to reclaim the city walls for us, the citizens. Yes, we are all sick of the visual invasion of advertisement, specially now that the crisis is making us think about what is it really important. (Buying has finally lost its cool). As the main organizer explained to the artists who choose to get involved, the agency that owns the 'attacked' billboards operates on an illegal basis. "NPA outdoor operates over 500 street level billboards in NYC ranging in size from about 4'x4' to 50'x12'. All of these advertising structures are illegal. I found this out by talking to the NYC Department of Buildings which has no permits for the NPA outdoor structures but has its hands full dealing with the rampant illegal billboard situation. I have also spoken directly with NPA outdoor employees who have told me that the NYPD will jail them from time to time at which point NPA lawyers bail them out and they are compensated 500 dollars for the nuisance of spending the night in jail".

(1st Ave and 9th)



So, it would be nice to see the NPA structures be removed. It would be even more wonderful if the city would choose to give it to artists instead of just removing them. Any way, this guy I won't name spent the past 4 months setting up a whole day of whitewashing ads, coordinating artists and make possible a collective street art happening. It doesn't look easy to me so... big THANKS to you and your team! The Posterboy movement was involved too, of course. All of them -graphic designers, visual artists, street artists and even the owner of a store who doesn't like the overwhelming advertising landscape we live in and spent the morning whitewashing ads- risked to get arrested, actually two of them spent the night in jail. They were the only casualties of the day, everything else worked smoothly, with a final party in Brooklyn. ( The brains and creativity left the island long time ago and now breath and think in Brooklyn, Manhattan it's only a storefront to the world, so they cross the bridges to show the world what they do, then they go back to Brooklyn to chill)

(Bowery and 5th)

Their art won't last, the NPA will kill this amazing pieces in a blink but, as one of the artists said to me at the afterparty, "art is about the experience, about living the moment, and what we did was so fucking great for New York that even if they take down our pieces we have learnt that we can do it and we will do it again. New yorkers had fun today in a very unusual way. It's priceless!"

I will be posting a video and a multimedia piece later today. Stay tuned! In the meantime, a few picks I took during the day.


(Kenmare st and Elisabeth)

(Bowery and 4th st)


Avenue A and 11th
Avenue A and 11th

Broome and Christie

MY VIDEO ABOUT THE EVENT HERE

31 comments:

  1. Qué grande. Me fascina todo lo relacionado con la subversión publicitaria y la inteligencia aplicada al 'artivismo'. Cuánta falta nos hace un poco de descontaminación mental...

    ¡Esperamos ansiosos más material!

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  2. Hola, Bárbara.

    Me llamo Guillermo y llevo, desde Madrid, un blog sobre arte urbano, Escrito en la pared. He llegado aquí (claro) vía Wooster y le he dedicado una entrada al tema. Imagino que todo un lujo poder ser partícipe y/o testigo de semejante iniciativa...

    Un saludo!

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  3. Thank you, Barbara! Wonderful photos...what a shame that they have already, less than 24 hours later, papered over some of the art with ads.

    When I saw what was underneath the Apple Touch ad we saw today on 12th St, it made me sad. Also, it made me think badly of Apple, the opposite of what they wanted to accomplish with their ad. I guess there is *some* justice in that.

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  4. Hey guys, thank you!!!! I am working on a video, come back tomorrow!

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  5. thanks for all the great pics!!

    Looking forward to the other media coming which will go directly onto my blog.

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  6. This is some really wonderful coverage on what was a very special day for artists and all New Yorkers in general. I'm really looking forward to seeing your video.

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  7. Qué pena no haber estado ese día para verlo. Aquí pasan tantas cosas que es abrumador... Ojalá pudiéramos abarcarlas todas! son este tipo de historias las que hacen a esta ciudad única.
    Muchas gracias por contárnoslo!

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  8. Me llamo mbi y he llegado hasta tí vía Escrito en la pared, enhorabuena Barbara por el blog....que me ha hecho disfrutar junto a tí de tu participación...
    Seguiré aquí

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  9. Not sure that this is something that should be applauded.. These companies paid a lot of money for these ads, and these people just came and ruined them. It probably cost the companies thousands to repost those ads, costs that will be passed on to the consumers. I know it's easy to not care about big corporations, but what if it were your ad that was painted over? What if you owned a small business and had saved up for months for a big nice ad in NYC and you finally got it and then some guy came and painted over it? It's selfish and thoughtless and egocentric. If these artists want their work displayed, do it in a gallery space, or fork over their own money for the ad space. What they did was no less than stealing, and should be treated as such.

    I am a big art lover and I think we do need more art in our cities, however I think that praising people for breaking the law and costing good American companies thousands of dollars is despicable.

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  10. I am overjoyed to see something like this going on in my country! Thanks for sharing!

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  11. My first time to your blog, but thanks so much for sharing this, and thanks to the artists for sharing their art. We need more art attacks like this.

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  12. whether or not the companies paid $1 or $1000 the space they advertised in was illegal. Yes illegal acts can also apply to corporations not just you and me. But becuase these ads were rakig in cash the government let it slide. So I feel that those adverts were illegal and vandalism. And the artists going over and putting up various works of art is much better than an illegal ad for some big ol' corporation.

    Lets be honest what do you think will encourage the people (more importantly the kids) more. "ooo look I'll be happy with that product" *buy buy buy* or "hey how did they do that I want to learn THAT"

    if you had to choose between poluting the masses with shitty products that won't help us in any way, or giving the people free art for a few days/weeks which would you choose.

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  13. This was great! I love the different styles used. i also can't believe illegal billboards are so prolific. anyway great job to all who participated.

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  14. Boooooo Ads, Yay Art, I love the cheeseburger!

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  15. saved up for months? this guy planned it for 4 months and the illegal ad company overdid their work in days. us being bad to major companies?

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  16. I agree with Anonymous and Anonymous, and thoroughly disagree with Anonymous. Simply put, this was vigilantism at its best. Street justice, indeed.

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  17. Me encanta el trabajo de estos artistas callejeros. El mensaje es tan pertinente, y tus fotos lo recalcan muy bien! Yo también hago cosas de este tipo pero a mi manera. Hago "yarnbombing", graffiti tejido (de punto, como las abuelitas!) en Paris, y el lunes coloqué obritas en la estacion Abbesses del metro parisino. Visita mi blog para verlo!

    Del 13 al 15 de mayo, las pandilla de los "Knitta Please!" colocaran calcetines para los 69 parquimetros de la avenida Montague en Brooklyn, Nueva York. Yo participo! Pero desde lejos, no podré ver la instalacion, qué pena! Que no se lo pierdan los neoyorquinos!

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  18. Edgewise is right.
    And fortunately this is an opinion shared by most.
    10% of the poulation have 90% of the wealth in the world.
    But 90% percent with the rest are pissed off and majority and common sense win every time
    Power to the Public and THEIR space!

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  19. Little creativity, change our lives!

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  20. To the corporate troll disguised as an anonymous poster: First, the ads were ILLEGAL. any self respecting small business owner would follow the rules and invest their marketing money in things that would create results. The primary purpose of the NPA ads were to blanket NYC as much as possible to create a branding meme for the least amount of money. This is not, in any way shape or form creative advertising. This is more like a public nuisance.
    The Renegade artists, on the other hand had a purpose: Create works of art in lieu of these eyesores in the hopes that people will--however many--will get the message and understand that they don't have to be constantly bombarded with visual displays trying to sell you something. Visual displays can be interesting and thought provoking however it was created. Let the businesses go through the proper channels and the artists, when they get an equal voice will as well.

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  21. Why is it that just because a McDonalds label is on something, people think it's not only morally ok, but legal? Large companies make their money by walking the razor's edge of legality and morality. I applaud any time someone creatively exploits this. Beautification and education.

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  22. Hola Barbara, maravilloso proyecto este, un gran abrazo desde Caracas donde algunos amigos y yo creamos Ser Urbano: http://www.facebook.com/inbox/readmessage.php?t=1007744329931&f=1&e=0#/group.php?gid=18651558381

    Le damos vida y color a la ciudad a traves de juegos, sean unas (N)Olimpiadas con carreras de saco o ula ula en una plaza. Todo gratis, todo libre, todo anarquico, todo publico. Siga en la lucha urbana!

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  23. truely epic..it's out time to take it back!

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  24. i love your blog

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  25. there not small companies that save money to adveritse with them in 2001 npa made 12.5 million in nyc alone not counting la plus they have up to 30 other markets across the country

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  26. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=54J-OCUFzQM

    rick del mastro owns city outdoor has an office in npa outdoor money and power

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  27. They're all ads. Ads for someone. Ads for something. Some of them are interesting, some aren't.

    We should be demanding that corporations make more artfully-made ads instead of this one-off band-aid that won't last.

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  28. that is fucking stupid. they just want to put art all over everything? this would kill art, and probably just commercialize it

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