<body> Public Ad Campaign: Recent PosterBoy Show
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Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Recent PosterBoy Show

I can't believe it took this long to review the most recent PosterBoy, Aakash Nihilani, Ibrahim Ahmed III show at the Jajo Gallery In Newark, but I wanted to see if my initial reaction changed with a bit of time to think. It didn't. Similarly to his last show at Eastern-District, PosterBoy's transformation of the gallery space doesn't address the underlying advertising and public space issues his work in public so effortlessly tackles. In this recent show you might not even know that the materials were in fact stolen billboards if you weren't aware of his process because the billboards he chose were obscure New Jersey based rug retailers. On top of this Aakash's work looses its spatial relationships, merely becoming a way to hold PosterBoy's billboards to the wall, albeit in an artistic fashion. I thought to myself, even more than most street art, this work just doesn't work in a gallery setting.

Nonetheless, I found myself out at Jajo enjoying myself and rabble rousing with an interesting crowd of people, talking about street art, graffiti, and outdoor advertising's monopolization of our collective visual space. This was an unsuccessful gallery exhibition but a successful event which reinforced an open dialogue about important activist issues that are often left out of gallery conversations surrounding street work.

This fact begged me to rethink what I expected, or wanted from a gallery exhibition of street art and public space activist projects. Most importantly, whether the work exists on the street or within four white walls, I want the work to create conversation about whose ideas belong in the public and how as a public our communications are often illegal and transgressive. Whether this happens on the street or within a gallery isn't the issue, it just has to happen for the work to hold water. And in fact this kind of conversation was well represented the opening night. I just don't know if it needed to be up for a full month.

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