Marrakesh to Manhattan
I just returned from a trip to Morocco where I was assisting on a shoot for a Brazilian fashion company. Needless to say Marrakesh had very little public advertising and I was happy to walk around an unadulterated environment. That, however, isn't why I'm writing this post. I have clear issues with public advertising on our streets and in our neighborhoods but there is a grey area as well, and that is the public/private spaces we all must use in order to function in our society. I toyed with the boundaries of public space in a project some years back where I installed work in bar and restaurant bathrooms by removing InSite advertising. At the time it was difficult to explain why I felt justified going into a private establishment and imposing my will, but when I returned from Morocco it became more clear. After an 8 hr flight me and my fellow travelers passed through customs, only to be subjected to a giant Mastercard advertising bombardment as we left baggage claim and entered the terminal. It was so large and aggressive I couldn't help but think of how it reflected on our culture. All those eyes seeing America for the first time had this to greet them. It spoke to our obsession with commodity and our unbridled allegiance to Consumerism. This private space was revealed to me as a functionally public space for the first time. I felt there was a reason to demand the protection of that space because of the cultural ramifications of big advertising. In the end this experience further supports my intuitions that advertising, even in public/private places, must be challenged if the public is to retain its right to express its cultural identity over our nation's capitalist identity.