Queer Art, Queer Artists, Queer Spaces

Fox Fisher for  Art in Ad Places . Photo by Luna Park.

Fox Fisher for Art in Ad Places. Photo by Luna Park.

This week, for the culmination of Pride and the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Uprising, we teamed up with our friend Daniel Albanese, better known as The Dusty Rebel, for a series of seven ad takeovers. Each poster is by an LGBT+ street artist, and they all address LGBT+ concerns.

And who but Dusty could guest curate this series for us? He’s the man behind the upcoming Queer Street Art documentary, and there is probably nobody who has a better handle on that particular sub-category of street art. On very short notice, Dusty was able to assemble an internationally-sourced suite of posters by Aloha, Fox Fisher, Jeremy Novy, Jess X. Snow, Lésbica Feminista, Paul Harfleet's The Pansy Project, and Suriani. Additionally, thanks to Dusty’s advice, we were able to install this entire series in sites of importance for LGBT+ history: Across the street from the Stonewall Inn, a stone’s throw from historic piers, down the street from the country’s longest-standing lesbian bar (Henrietta Hudson in the West Village)…

Why put up this series now? Fox Fisher hits the nail on the head, in explaining why he contributed the design that he did, “Being part of Art in Ad Places is special because it provides a platform to 'sell' something much more real, to be able to touch people when they least expect it. I chose to highlight that Pride Is A Protest because it's 50 years since the Stonewall Riots and in many countries people are still persecuted for their gender identity, expression, and romantic preference.”

Lésbica Feminista for  Art in Ad Places . Photo by Luna Park.

Lésbica Feminista for Art in Ad Places. Photo by Luna Park.

Of course, there’s also nothing wrong with the aspect of Pride that is about a joyous representation of LGBT+ people and ideas. In particular, Lésbica Feminista and Jeremy Novy’s works touch on that.

Lésbica Feminista told us, “I contributed this image to Art in Ad Places because I think we should talk/see more about lesbian women and give them/us voice. Lesbians have been underrepresented and marginalized throughout history, so I believe it is important to resignify lesbian images, to bring new meanings and to make these relationships more and more visible.”

And Jeremy Novy said, “I’m taking part in Art in Ad Places—and using blunt, strong, and unmistakably gay imagery—because our media is filled heterosexual images. In recent years, Drag Race has helped popularize a certain side of the gay community, and that's great, but there's a homoerotic side too. It can be confrontational and make the heterosexual male question his masculinity, and I wanted to explore that.”

Jeremy Novy for  Art in Ad Places . Photo by Luna Park.

Jeremy Novy for Art in Ad Places. Photo by Luna Park.

Jess X. Snow’s work is perhaps in a similar vein of celebration and visibility, but with their trademark poetic and personal approach. They told us, “I chose to paint queer, migrant non-binary activist/poet Sonia Guiñansaca and their words so folks in the early journey of exploring gender know that we’ve always been this vast of a cosmos. Thank you also to our LGBTQ+ and non-binary elders who make our lives today possible especially the Black trans women who started the Stonewall riots and made pride possible and queer and two-spirit indigenous folks who have been transcending gender and heteronormativity before settler colonialism ever happened.”

Jess X. Snow for  Art in Ad Places . Photo by Luna Park.

Jess X. Snow for Art in Ad Places. Photo by Luna Park.

Paul Harfleet, the artist behind The Pansy Project, and Suriani both took the opportunity to memorialize members of the LGBT+ community.

Suriani said, “With this piece, I to pay tribute to NYC's LGBT+ artist and activist Marsha P. Johnson. Keeping her memory alive strengthens our community which still struggles with discrimination.”

Suriani for  Art in Ad Places . Photo by Luna Park.

Suriani for Art in Ad Places. Photo by Luna Park.

Paul Harfleet’s piece is a bit more difficult to summarize, so let’s turn it over to him:

“I have been running my ongoing artwork; The Pansy Project, for almost fifteen years, I plant pansies at sites of homophobia and transphobia around the world. I take a photograph and add the image with the title that quotes the abuse to my website (thepansyproject.com).
“For Art in Ad Places I have quoted part of a page on Wikipedia; ‘History of violence against LGBT people in the United States.’ In a font size just on the brink of readable I have relocated this information in virtual space and brought it to the street. The list is intentionally difficult to read, practically and emotionally and highlights the impossible challenge of capturing every hate crime our LGBTQ+ community experiences on a daily basis. The image of a pansy planted in Washington D.C. commemorates the life of black trans woman, Tyli’a ‘Nana Boo’ Mack, who was stabbed to death in 2009. Her murder does not ‘make the list’ and emphasises the challenge of any full representation of hate crimes against us. The ‘History of violence against LGBT people in the United States’ covers the fifty years since the Stonewall Riots, a culturally significant beginning to the gay rights movement, half a century later the fight against homophobia and transphobia continues.”

Paul Harfleet’s The Pansy Project for  Art in Ad Places . Photo by Luna Park.

Paul Harfleet’s The Pansy Project for Art in Ad Places. Photo by Luna Park.

Finally, a great example of the unexpected power of images. You never know quite how something is going to land, or how it will be embraced. So let’s keep putting those images out there. Of his poster, Aloha said, “This painting—based on a photograph a friend posted to Facebook in 2012—which began as a joke, but over the years has come to represent Pride and Queer Liberation Movement in Italy and Europe.”

Aloha for  Art in Ad Places . Photo by Luna Park.

Aloha for Art in Ad Places. Photo by Luna Park.

Again, an enormous thank you to Dusty Rebel, as well as all of the artists who saw the value in putting out these messages right now, especially in the format of an ad takeover. As the saying goes, “Be gay, do crime.” Let’s have more queer art, by queer artists, in queer space (and in all spaces).

Taking Space for an Anti-Fashion (and Pro-Animal) Message

Praxis for  Art in Ad Places . Photo by Luna Park.

Praxis for Art in Ad Places. Photo by Luna Park.

Few industries rely more on advertising than fashion. What’s a super-model’s dream? To be on a billboard in Times Square, selling Chanel or Louis Vuitton to people being convinced to take on more credit card debt. Simultaneously, the industry is a huge strain on the environment, responsible for an estimated 5% of greenhouse gas emissions globally. And, on a level that perhaps feels less abstract than the long-term effects of climate change, about 30 million animals are killed each year for their fur. So there’s something especially satisfying about installing this series of posters by Praxis in spaces so often used by the fashion industry.

Praxis for  Art in Ad Places . Photo by Luna Park.

Praxis for Art in Ad Places. Photo by Luna Park.

Praxis told us, “The city bombs us constantly with advertisement, trying to sell us just whatever, and as long as it pays well, every space is available for rent. But the Streets are the people’s media as well, free, massive, and for all, and not having access to a company budget shouldn’t stop anybody from giving an other purpose to all this space we have in the city. Art, activism and self expression should always have space to communicate, given or taken.”

So, get out there and take space!

Praxis for  Art in Ad Places . Photo by Luna Park.

Praxis for Art in Ad Places. Photo by Luna Park.

Part 2 with Medium Tings' Stephanie Baptist: Nydia Blas

Artwork by Nydia Blas, from her series  The Girls Who Spun Gold . Photo by Luna Park.

Artwork by Nydia Blas, from her series The Girls Who Spun Gold. Photo by Luna Park.

Following up on last month’s installations by Shaniqwa Jarvis, today we have the second half of our collaboration with Medium Tings’ Stephanie Baptist. We invited Baptist to guest curate a series of Art in Ad Places installations because we were inspired by her work providing a platform to artists who are under-recognized in the traditional gallery system.

For this second set of installations, Baptist invited Nydia Blas to contribute two photographs from her series The Girls Who Spun Gold. Blas told us, “I contributed these images to Art in Ad Places because Black girls and women deserve to see complicated representations of themselves.”

Baptist’s selections exemplify how, when we hand over public space to the advertising industry, certain images and ideas end up not making it into public space. The photographs by both Jarvis and Blas fill gaps in our public conversations, as Blas’ statement touches on.

Artwork by Nydia Blas, from her series  The Girls Who Spun Gold . Photo by Luna Park.

Artwork by Nydia Blas, from her series The Girls Who Spun Gold. Photo by Luna Park.

Even behind the scenes at Art in Ad Places, we’ve been thinking about how, despite creating this project about opening up public space, we inevitably have our own curatorial biases steering the ship. The core team comes from a background in street art and graffiti, and we work with a lot of street artists. RJ loves text art, and we’ve had a lot of big bold text. Sure, some work is just going to fit well in this format. But if we want to show a world where public space is for everyone, we have to break out of those boxes. Working with Medium Tings is one way for us to try doing that, and we appreciate Baptist, Blas, and Jarvis for their willingness to join us in this experiment.

Have ideas for other important topics that advertising either ignores or addresses poorly? What ideas should be projected throughout public space? Let us know. Or, better yet, go out there and put up those messages yourself.

Opening up the Platform with Medium Tings' Stephanie Baptist - Part 1: Shaniqwa Jarvis

Dev Hynes  by Shaniqwa Jarvis for  Art in Ad Places . Photo by Luna Park.

Dev Hynes by Shaniqwa Jarvis for Art in Ad Places. Photo by Luna Park.

For just the second time since Art in Ad Places launched in 2017, we are opening up the project a guest curator. We asked Stephanie Baptist from the trailblazing apartment art gallery Medium Tings to invite two artists to contribute to Art in Ad Places.

First up is Shaniqwa Jarvis. This weekend, we installed two of her photographs.

"I contributed both images to Art in Ad Places as they evoke a sense of beauty, strength, and confidence. I wanted people to find inspiration in an unexpected spot," said Jarvis.

Ericka Hart  by Shaniqwa Jarvis for  Art in Ad Places . Photo by Luna Park.

Ericka Hart by Shaniqwa Jarvis for Art in Ad Places. Photo by Luna Park.

Each of Jarvis’ photos is a striking portrait that stops you in your tracks and certainly says something, but isn’t there to sell you anything, just to give the gift of inspiration. Without giving away the location of Jarvis’ work completely, we’ll just say that we installed these within about a block of each other, so we wonder who will catch that.

Thanks to Baptist/Medium Tings for embarking on this atypical collaboration! We’re looking forward to sharing part two with the world soon.

A Simple Suggestion: Human Liberty over Dumb Products

Ganzeer for  Art in Ad Places . Photo by Luna Park.

Ganzeer for Art in Ad Places. Photo by Luna Park.

The stars aligned this week, and after two years of hoping to work with Ganzeer, we made it happen. A version of his poster, an illustration of Maya Desnuda, was previously exhibited at the Brooklyn Museum back in 2015, but we think it works just as well outdoors. Whether it’s as a shout or a whisper, so many billboards seem to say, “You can touch my body if you buy this product” or “People will only want to touch your body if you buy this product,” so a pay phone seems an especially poignant location for Ganzeer and Desnuda’s message.

Ganzeer told us, “I'm participating in Art in Ad Places because cities should be controlled by the people who live in them and not solely by corporations and their interests. New Yorkers have a right not to be bombarded by ads for dumb products they never wanted or asked for, and instead should retain the right to express themselves and their opinions openly in public space and be exposed to the opinions of fellow city dwellers in turn, for it is the only way to further societal development (at least far more effectively than with more ‘breast augmentation’ ads). Speaking of breasts and other human body parts, this particular work of art was chosen because women should clearly be able to display (or not) their bodies however they mighty well please without worry of judgement or harassment. Any laws or social conditioning standing in the way of this very basic human liberty must cease to exist effective immediately.”

We couldn’t agree more.

Ganzeer for  Art in Ad Places . Photo by Luna Park.

Ganzeer for Art in Ad Places. Photo by Luna Park.