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.