Art Dies For Advertising
The top image is the way this corner used to look back when WK Interact had his work all around this neighborhood and one could enjoy his art freely. A few years back the piece was painted over and replaced with a painted advertisement which then gave way to the large freestanding signage you see now. I have long pondered how public advertising can be viewed as more than urban blight or manipulative images coercing your subconscious day in and out. How can we understand public advertisement to be an alteration of the politics of public space? My usual answer has to do with the problems that arise by generally commodifying the public space. By giving real monetary value to the sides of our buildings and the walls which surround us we legitimate them as a commodity to be bought and sold. Once something becomes a commodity, the ability to profit from that space becomes a given right and to not take advantage of that right seems ludicrous. If on the other hand that space remains "valueless" the motivation for its use completely changes. Now that space is an empty canvas from which money cannot be gained and therefore becomes something that can be given away without the owner feeling like they are loosing anything of value. When something has no "value", people will find their own way to give it meaning. This is seen in the work of WK Interact, but also can be seen in the myriad of public murals which adorn our city, often painted by people from within the community in which the mural exists. Public schools often take advantage of this opportunity and develop relationships with local building owners to procure space on which the children can paint and thus connect to their neighborhood. Physical connection to ones community is an amazing way in which people build psychic connections to their neighborhoods. If public advertising can be seen as even a small factor in the disconnect between residents and their public environment, it can, and should be seen to be in direct conflict with our intended use of our public space.