Before ad takeovers were a thing, before street art was a thing, before graffiti was a thing... there was simply a man who painted messages in the street: John Fekner. Since 1968, John has been stenciling messages, and painting other things, outdoors. He is a street art pioneer. For Art in Ad Places, we asked John to recreate one of his most iconic works, his MY AD IS NO AD billboard from 1980.
John gave us a photo of the original billboard, making this a somewhat meta installation of a photo of a long-gone ad takeover. And because John's poster is backlit, it changes throughout the day, looking totally different during daylight, at dusk, or after dark.
John says, "I decided to contribute to the Art in Ad Places project because there continues to be an incessant plethora of corporate visual glut that prevails wherever there is available and highly visible public space. Every community, both large and small, needs to not see, listen or be persuaded by corporate media's tactical junk-peddler onslaught. Don’t allow your mind to be their gold mine."
That last line of John's is worth noting, because a variation of it appeared somewhere else this week: An ad takeover installed as part of Subvertisers International's #SubvertTheCity campaign, an anti-advertising call to action taking place this week around the world. We at Art in Ad Places are big fans of Subvertisers International, and we timed the installation of John's poster so that it would go up in solidarity with #SubvertTheCity. By connecting an ad takeover from 1980 to Art in Ad Places, and Art in Ad Places to other anti-advertising actions taking places independently in cities internationally, we hope to highlight both the history of this movement and its continued growth today. And remember: you can always join in too.