artists rubbing out illegal billboards all over New York

deleting the offense: first the white paint, then the message, in a classic font of course

Sometimes it seems that the canker of commercial advertising won't stop until it's succeeded in plastering every surface in New York, but now we learn that we don't really have to put up with all of it. Thanks to the alert folks at the Municipal Landscape Control Committee of New York City [MLCCNYC] (with the help of Eastern District, as I understand it) hundreds of illegal billboards put up all over the city by City Outdoor and NPA Wildposting have been spotted and are being rendered faceless by skilled, activist artists even as I write this.

Progress at just one of the sites is documented above, in a picture taken earlier this evening. The wall shown is on the west side of Eldridge Street, just below Houston. The letter attached to the frame of the illegal billboard is copied below.


While doing some searching on line just now I found this spot-on paragraph posted by Jordan Seiler on the "Public Ad Campaign" site, outlining the proper concern of any New Yorker who is not personally a business or corporation:

Outdoor advertising in public spaces transforms those locations into environments intended for commerce and thus for private agendas. Maybe the subway was once a transportation system, but today it is a carefully crafted advertising distribution system with a controlled target audience. These NPA City Outdoor ads turn our city streets into private messaging boards sold off to the highest bidder. In the process, my interest in painting political messages about the failure of our city government is criminalized and my public voice silenced.

ADDENDA: The image I'm adding below shows what the wall looked like when it was completed. It's from the artist's own site. Ji Lee is seen painting in the picture at the top. Also, it now looks like the proper acronym for the project is to be NYSAT [New York Street Advertising Takeover], Eastern District wasn't really part of the project itself, and a concise description of the action can be found on the Wooster Collective site.


[third image from]

I'm going to try not to be an asshole here, but the mere fact that I've prefaced this comment in such a way means I probably will be.

1. "But now it seems that we don't really have to put up with all of it." Way off-base, off-kilter, falling off a two-foot-wide balance beam, even. A single institution has been found guilty of illegally posting "hundreds" of billboards within NEW YORK CITY.

2. "Canker of commercial advertising" is a cop-out. America, and perhaps more than any city in America -- New York -- is a capitalist economy and institution. Without passing judgment on the merits of capitalism vs. socialism (or any other economic agenda), it's completely obvious and cliched to point out that advertisements are idiotic and appeal to our baser instincts.

3. The notion that we have some serious renegade artists here inciting any sort of evolution in our national identity and philosophy is completely out of line.

Grow up and pick your battles.

#1. New York City has plenty of legal advertising space (Times Square being one small example).

#2. Advertising in this form is not and will never be a productive contribution to the advancement of the human race.

#3. Socialism is alive and well in this world and quite frankly kicks the shit out of capitalism. It is not and will never be the new communism no matter what the newly re-branded Republican spoiled-ass brat says.

#4. People, no matter where they live, deserve an actual place to LIVE. "I'm sure you would take exception to someone putting billboards in your windows."

#5. Art has been in conflict with propaganda and advertising for centuries. duh.

Capitalism can aid Socialism, but the nitch is the people who are willing to work hard enough to become wealthy have to be generous enough to give back to society. Bill Gates is an example, he will give away almost his entire fortune to charities after he dies.

Personally, I don't call this art. I call it replacing an eyesore with another eyesore.

On one hand, I get really freaking tired of looking at advertisements. On the other hand, I think that if someone owns a wall, they have the right to put what they want on it. If they take money to put up some guy's ad, that's his business. Permits? I hate permits. Sometimes they prevent people from doing stupid shit, but more often it's just the city wanting more money from every action that we take.

I also don't agree with how these "illegal" ads were handled. the owners of the walls or billboards or what have you should have been notified and given a deadline by which the ad need be removed. If, by that deadline, the ad was still there, then the city may *whitewash* the walls, as the little paper there says. Whitewashing doesn't mean covering a privately owned wall with some random artists' "pieces".

Bad form on both sides, gents. Pistols at dawn.

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Published on April 26, 2009 1:03 AM.

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