bill stickers will be prosecuted.
May 4, 2009 8:06 PM   Subscribe

On April 25th, 2009, over 50 artists and 26 whitewashers spread out over lower Manhattan as part Jordan Seiler's "New York Street Advertising Takeover". Over 120 illegal billboards were whitewashed, then turned into "personal pieces of art." One person was arrested. More pictures. via
posted by logicpunk (15 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
see also
posted by marxchivist at 8:12 PM on May 4, 2009

posted by danb at 8:22 PM on May 4, 2009 [3 favorites]

Pot stickers will be fried or boiled.
posted by spicynuts at 8:33 PM on May 4, 2009

Free Bill Stickers!
posted by ErWenn at 8:39 PM on May 4, 2009 [2 favorites]

I'll take a dozen!
posted by The White Hat at 9:11 PM on May 4, 2009

So let me get this straight...a guy representing a company that posts illegal advertising...calls and complains to the city that the illegal ads are being painted over...and the city comes and arrests them?
posted by Xoebe at 10:30 PM on May 4, 2009 [2 favorites]

So let me get this straight...

I'm for pulling down all billboards, whether they are legal or not, and pulling down the companies that put them up, but you can't expect the cops to look the other way when you create another illegal billboard over an existing illegal billboard, someone makes an official complaint against you, the cops show up and observe you making the illegal billboard art, and you then show a fake work order to the cops three times in one day. Even if the cops were on your side -- and why shouldn't they be? I bet they hate living in ad land as much as anyone else -- they would be forced to do something about the fake work order.
posted by pracowity at 11:04 PM on May 4, 2009

Thanks for posting this! It fully explains the sudden white-washing and decoration of this illegal ad space in my neighbourhood: photo of the guerilla billboard in progress. Someone was filming the paste-up from the construction site across the street. A few hours later, more ads for the Freelancers' Union and crappy coming films had papered this over.
posted by lasagnaboy at 11:17 PM on May 4, 2009

I wouldn't call what the artists put up on the newly whitewashed billboards "Advertising". I didn't see any websites, or even artist names or anything, just works of art, which, personally, is infinitely preferable to advertising.
posted by Hickeystudio at 12:54 AM on May 5, 2009

Maybe one day NY will follow Sao Paulo and ban billboards. I would probably throw a party to celebrate it.
posted by Grimp0teuthis at 1:02 AM on May 5, 2009

I'm not anti-billboard, stunts or not. Sometimes even regular old advertising can be art, and they're definitely a part of a real cityscape in my mind's eye. How else could we ever have Times Square, Shinjuku or Blade Runner?

I'd like to see some before-and-afters from Sao Paulo, though. Curious.
posted by rokusan at 2:28 AM on May 5, 2009

just works of art, which, personally, is infinitely preferable to advertising.

A clever and tasteful ad can itself be a work of art, while most amateur/guerrilla stuff is no more aesthetically pleasing than graffiti (which itself can be quite nice, but is usually just ugly tags). The crux really is that these billboards are illegal regardless, but "infinitely preferable" is definitely a matter of opinion, since legal billboards can be taxed for their impact on society, and those revenues can pay for city services.
posted by explosion at 3:34 AM on May 5, 2009

A clever and tasteful ad can itself be a work of art

A clever and tasteful advertising jingle can itself be a work of art, but I don't want competing advertising jingles playing from loudspeakers everywhere I go. Likewise, I want to be able to walk through a public space and not see corporate marketing everywhere.

Signs on places of business, I understand to an extent. You have a Chinese restaurant and you want people going by to notice it and walk in. Fair enough. During business hours, light up a sign of regulation size and wattage, with minimal light pollution (light the sign, not the sky). When you close the restaurant, turn it off.

Most ads should be delivered through focused channels, so that, for example, you advertise a certain musical group to people who are fairly likely to buy your group's product. That's where clever and tasteful ads belong, where the customer will appreciate them.
posted by pracowity at 4:28 AM on May 5, 2009

As Grimp0teuthis noticed above, São Paulo banned all outdoor advertising (and imposed harsh restrictions on store fronts). I'd just like to call attention to the amazing photo gallery "São Paulo No Logo" (linked from the article Grimp0teuthis mentioned).

The photographer, Tony de Marco, is a personal friend of mine. This gallery was noticed around the world and even ended up being mentioned by German director Win Wenders in his last movie.

Just a last observation: the city got one order of magnitude more beautiful and friendly onde the adds were gone. We don't imagine the level of visual violence we're immersed until you see the alternative.
posted by nkyad at 5:41 AM on May 5, 2009 [1 favorite]

My wife and I hired a car from Damascus to Beiruit one time. Now Syria is certainly not completely ad free, but with few Western capitalist corporations selling their products in the Arab Socialist dictatorship, it is certainly minimal. Then you hit the border. Even in the demilitarized no-man's land is a Dunkin Donuts and a Pizza Hut. Lebanon is no worse than any Western nation, but coming from Syria the contrast is just amazing. Coke billboards 3 stories high and in-your-face are all along the road, sometimes standing high above a tent city for migrant workers picking crops in the Beqqa. More shocking perhaps are the political billboards. Interspersed with McDonalds, Coke, Pepsi, "Belly Dancing" Clubs, Kebab Huts, Feraris, and fabulous vacation packages were political signs; depending on who controled that area you might see Ayatollah Khomeini, Assad, Jesus-bleeding-light, or any other permutation or candidate you can think of in-between. Sometimes these had some nice counter-grafiti or bullet holes. Sometimes political grafiti was added to billboards, like a big Phallangist cross boarder stenciled around an ad for a cruise package.

As I said, we were coming upon this after weeks in Damascus where the bigest ad you saw was a hand painted Assad family "holy trinity" (Father-Haffez, Son-Bashar, and Holy Ghost-Basil) or a rotting Mandarin Cola logo on the side of a building.
posted by Pollomacho at 6:11 AM on May 5, 2009

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