<body> Public Ad Campaign: Flair Magazine-Interview With PublicAdCampaign
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Monday, November 30, 2009

Flair Magazine-Interview With PublicAdCampaign

You often meet interesting characters on the set of fashion shoots, but Jordan Seiler has a really unusual story. A photography lighting technician, he is also a very busy artist. He created PublicAdCampaign, a project that promotes, as works of art, the illegal occupation of public spaces designated for advertising. His goal? To protest against the distorted use of public spaces by the part of corporations and to return them to the public.

How did you start?

On a whim. I was studying at the Rhode Island School of Design and when I went home to New York and ride the subway, I thought that I would prefer seeing one of my images there instead of advertising.

What’s behind PublicAdCampaign?

Lots of money is made through advertising in public spaces. Unfortunately, we artists cannot afford to pay to exhibit our art; we can only do it illegally. Also, I would definitely like the streets more if we eliminated advertisements: it would reduce the corporate control of these places. They would return to the public, which could use it differently, more artistically.

What is your latest project?

My latest project is National Bestseller.

What is it about?

We took over the advertising spaces in phone booths with the pages of some bestsellers. It wasn’t so much about sharing the content of the book as much as the desire to return this space to the public. Books are loved and shared by many people and so it is only right that they substitute the corporate messages. It is a more democratic form of information.

And the next project?

I’ll be working with over a hundred artists and activists: we will take over 130 advertising billboards around New York.

Is there a political message behind this protest?

We move illegally and without permits, so this too is a form of “opposition”. We want the city to be returned to the public. It would be great if everyone could use it to display new and creative ideas. Public space is one of the last democratic spaces, where each one of us has the same power and the same “value” as the next person.

Working in fashion, you must have worked on the set of advertising campaigns. Isn’t that a contradiction?

Advertising is a tremendous force that guides our desires and persuades us to buy things that we might not even have thought of. When this content is in newspapers or on television or the radio, we can ignore it. But if it’s displayed on billboards, then we can only be subjected to it and we become unwitting slaves to the message, incapable of choosing. I don’t have a problem with advertising per se, but with how it is imposed on us in public spaces. So working in this industry is not a contradiction since I’m not participating in the creation of its content.

Do you know of similar initiatives in Europe?

In France they are at the forefront of this type of protest. I don’t know if this also exists in Italy.

Paola Salvatore

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