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.

I Love You (but come on)

Christine Sun Kim for  Art in Ad Places . Photo by Luna Park.

Christine Sun Kim for Art in Ad Places. Photo by Luna Park.

Here’s something that everyone can empathize with. Christine Sun Kim’s contribution to Art in Ad Places touches on love, patriotism, appropriation, and the unique complications that come with being an American living in a foreign country.

Christine says, “In American Sign Language (ASL) you combine the three letters: I, L, and Y into one sign to say ‘I love you.’ That sign is very visible in media and often signed by non-deaf celebrities. I thought to myself, ‘maybe that sign needs a break from loving...’ so I added a frown to it, as if it's its own person. And as an American living in Berlin, I added the presidential seal in the background because it's been incredibly frustrating and exhausting for me to watch the United States in the midst of the current political climate. I'm contributing to Art in Ad Places to let people know that they're not alone in this.”

With this piece, because we love it so much (perhaps too much, if we take Christine's advice), we installed a few copies of the same artwork. In this post, you’ll see two. Out on the street, see if you can find more.

Christine Sun Kim for  Art in Ad Places . Photo by Luna Park.

Christine Sun Kim for Art in Ad Places. Photo by Luna Park.