#NoBanNoWall

Our Ancestors Dreamed of Us by Jess X. Snow, in collaboration with Jordan Alam. Photo by Luna Park.

Our Ancestors Dreamed of Us by Jess X. Snow, in collaboration with Jordan Alam. Photo by Luna Park.

"Our ancestors dreamed of us, and then bent reality to create us." – Walidah Imarisha

In case you've not been keeping up with the news... The latest version of Trump's Muslim ban was due to go into effect this week (until it was blocked by two judges), and his proposed federal budget includes billions of dollars to build the US/Mexico border wall.

This week's installation comes from queer migrant artist Jess X. Snow, in solidarity and collaboration with queer Muslim activist Jordan Alam. Jess says that the work was made "in response to the recent anti-immigrant executive orders and as a love letter to the Muslim immigrant community." Jordan expands on that thought:

"'To Allah we belong and to Allah we return' is a rough translation of the dua said at someone’s death. Blessed is this temporary cycle. We are part of a long lineage, a history of others who have dreamed us into being (as Walidah Imarisha puts it in the introduction to Octavia’s Brood). We are ourselves complete and also part of this larger whole and while we are impermanent, we are irreplaceable. Remember that you have the hands of ancestors at your back, and the duty to dream of the generations ahead of you."

Our Ancestors Dreamed of Us by Jess X. Snow, in collaboration with Jordan Alam. Photo by Luna Park.

Our Ancestors Dreamed of Us by Jess X. Snow, in collaboration with Jordan Alam. Photo by Luna Park.

We hope this poster is a source of encouragement and inspiration for communities who are under attack right now, and reminds everyone in the country we are largely a nation of immigrants, striving to create better opportunities for every future generation.

PS, Jess and Jordan have made a digital download of this poster (and another in the same series) available for free through Justseeds, so that anyone can download, print, and install it themselves. That may come in handy for Subvertising International's #SubvertTheCity campaign, a global call to action to against advertising and consumerism in public space. You can take part next week, March 22nd-25th, in any number of ways: Ad takeovers, lectures, workshops, calling your elected officials... Learn more about SI and #SubvertTheCity through PublicAdCampaign.

Two-for-One with Jon Burgerman

Poster by Jon Burgerman. Photo by Luna Park.

Poster by Jon Burgerman. Photo by Luna Park.

As Jon Burgerman likes to say, "It's great to create." With that attitude, it should come as surprise that Jon created not one, but two posters for Art in Ad Places!

Lately, Caroline has been thinking about how advertisements get people in a mode of not looking. Rather than experiencing public space, we put our heads down (or into our phone screens) to avoiding looking, ignoring all the beauty (and the ads) that surround us.

Poster by Jon Burgerman. Photo by Luna Park.

Poster by Jon Burgerman. Photo by Luna Park.

Jon's work speaks to that possibility of experiencing public space innocently, and finding beauty there. Here's what Jon has to say about his Art in Ad Places posters:

I fully support the idea to disrupt the onslaught of commercial images that swamp our cities and shared environments. I wanted to share work with no slogans, mottos, tag lines or credits. Just an intriguing image.

The pieces I chose are from a series of tiny sculptures I’ve been making, initially based on people, unknown to me, who i’ve seen in and around New York. I hoped the pieces would make people wonder who or what these things are, and perhaps find familiarity with the children’s modelling material that they are made out of. Maybe they will spark curiosity and joy and go someway to remind us that we were all once children, children who would play without any reason for doing so, and how wonderful that can be.

What is a Payphone?

I HATE THE SOUND OF SILENCE by Cheryl Pope. Photo by Luna Park.

I HATE THE SOUND OF SILENCE by Cheryl Pope. Photo by Luna Park.

This week's installation is on a payphone with three active advertisements, but zero functioning phones, so it's only fitting that it's where we installed Cheryl Pope's I HATE THE SOUND OF SILENCE. Here's what she had to say about the piece:

"I HATE THE SOUND OF SILENCE is the voice of a Chicago Youth responding to issues of inequality, police brutality, political corruption and resulting violence in the United States. Elevating this statement to a Championship Statement increases the volume, weight, and physicality of this lived experience and feeling of anger, pain and frustration.

"I selected this statement for ART IN AD PLACES and specifically on the telephone booth for its relationship to connection, conversation, and public accessibility. When I was young I saw the public phone as a resource if needed to call for help, a direct line to 911 or the operator. The deactivation of these public, democratic resources is a metaphor of the silence, the survival of the individual rather than a sense of a communal support system.

"It also pushes against the phone as an object that keeps us distracted, our inability to be silent, to confront, to be alone with ourselves. Our fear of what might be seen, heard, or felt within the silence."

The site of Cheryl's piece, because none of the phones there actually work, is a great example of what payphones in NYC have become: no longer a public service, they are only venues for advertising. Why should we, as people who have to walk by these booths every day, put up with that encroachment in public space with no benefit? Well, at Art in Ad Places, we would say that we shouldn't put up with it.

As an aside, it's great to have our first artist from Chicago, co-curator RJ Rushmore's hometown.

I HATE THE SOUND OF SILENCE by Cheryl Pope. Photo by Luna Park.

I HATE THE SOUND OF SILENCE by Cheryl Pope. Photo by Luna Park.

Everything We Do is Political

Absence by Noel'le Longhaul. Photo by Luna Park.

Absence by Noel'le Longhaul. Photo by Luna Park.

Noel'le Longhaul's contribution to Art in Ad Places exemplifies what we're looking for with this project, and we hope you enjoy it as much as we do. If you just walk by her poster and enjoy it more than an ad, great; if you see it and understand the meaning behind it, fantastic; and if you walk by and appreciate not just the meaning of the work but also the reason it's place where it is, that's pure gold.

Here's what Noel'le has to say about Absence:

Absence engages the labyrinthine topic of belonging to the North American landscape as a descendent of white colonists. To have a non-violent relationship with stolen land that has been exploited for centuries to further the projects of patriarchy and white supremacy is impossible: Absence subtly asserts that whiteness sacrificed its right to a genuine spiritual knowledge of the interdependence of the land and our bodies when the first witch was burned. The rise of capitalism and the institutionalization of racism, misogyny, abilism, xenophobia, and transphobia/transmisoginy hinges on this moment of spiritual and cultural suicide. Absence is both an image of celebration and of mourning. It is celebratory in that it gestures towards a reverence for the intricacy and majesty of the altered New England landscape, and embodies a spirit of feminine care for its detail and complexity. It is an act of mourning in that it acknowledges that although I have the blood of witches in me, I also have at my core a history that has destroyed them. The white figure as negative space is not an accident: it names my body as void. The way that the globalized power of whiteness has and continues to assert itself evidences an insatiability: the fetishization and appropriation of the art, fashion, spirituality, and music of people of color evidence that there no longer is a white culture or whole spirit. It defines itself through consumption, appropriation, and aggregation, consuming the resources of our planet as readily and constantly as it consumes non-white cultures. Absence is an attempt to turn that violence into a contemporary resistant spirituality, equal parts critique and spellcraft. Identifying with the history of loss of the marginal spiritual knowledge of women and queers is the closest I can come to a genuine spiritual relationship with the New England landscape I call "home."

I wanted to participate in Art in Ad Places because I'm making highly political work that isn't really coded as such. Being in a politicized art campaign alongside a bunch of other amazing dissident artists struck me as an opportunity to have that aspect of my work become more legible. An interruptive art campaign like this feels like a way to push back against a few things: for one, it pushes back against the daily intake of imagery that is in service, ultimately, to violence: most of the media we take in is a conduit for oppressive social norms. It also feels like a way to assert that it is possible to make political art in a way that is not explicitly partisan or didactic, but is nonetheless confrontational when it is engaged with within certain contexts; like this one. I endeavor to make artwork infused with a spirituality that is not appropriative or escapist, which for me means starting with confronting the nature of my circumstances as a white transfeminine non-urban person. Bringing that work into an urban context feels like a rare opportunity to be re-contextualized by contemporary political struggle.

"Absence" by Noel'le Longhaul. Photo by Luna Park.  

"Absence" by Noel'le Longhaul. Photo by Luna Park.

 

"Absence" by Noel'le Longhaul. Photo by Luna Park.

"Absence" by Noel'le Longhaul. Photo by Luna Park.

A Vision of Today, with Hope For Tomorrow

No Future by Shepard Fairey. Photo by Luna Park.

No Future by Shepard Fairey. Photo by Luna Park.

There is perhaps no better artist than Shepard Fairey to simultaneously address this dark moment in American politics and the nature of advertising. This week, we installed Shepard's No Future in the heart of New York City. It serves as a reminder to stay strong, loving, and loud, and that there are brighter days on the horizon.

This poster is an update on one of Shepard's recent prints, about which he wrote:

My art is usually social and political regardless of who is in the White House, but my concerns and frustrations are amplified by the election of Donald Trump. I joked while Trump was campaigning that his slogan should be “Manifest Density,” a parody of “Manifest Destiny,” which was an embarrassingly egotistical pronouncement by rich white men that it was God’s desire for them to conquer ocean to ocean in the territory that would become the United States. Trump appealed to an uninformed electorate who looked for scapegoats and were driven by most likely one or more of the dark impulses listed in the print. I’m pushing for a future where those impulses have no place and definitely no traction. Let’s move forward, not backward.

Reflecting on this installation specifically, Shepard adds:

Art in public space, especially in place of an ad, disrupts the trance of conspicuous consumption that is perpetuated by the constant bombardment of advertising communication that suggests our value and values are determined by the things we purchase. Creative expression as an alternative to advertising or even a critique of advertising gives us a wider and invigorated perspective, as well as an understanding that communication can go two ways.

No Future by Shepard Fairey. Photo by Luna Park.

No Future by Shepard Fairey. Photo by Luna Park.

So let's move forward with boldness and love, towards a future with many perspectives, and none of them hate.