David Ogilvy and Jordan Seiler: Adman and Agitator, Defenders of Public Space
It's Friday and I finished installing a mockup of my submission for the Urban Canvass Design Competition for the Dumbo art fest about 8 hours ago. This post from Dennis Hathaway is a little self congratulatory but I want to use it as an opportunity to talk about my appreciation. Over the last two days I was helped by Keith Schwietzer of No Longer Empty and two other volunteers I only know by first name, Dan and Alex. Their physical and moral support was unparalleled and I cannot thank them enough. I want to tell them both that this is the last weave install. While I love the design, it is time to move on in an attempt to prevent branding of PublicAdCampaign imagery.
The PublicAdCampaign project, while funded and run by myself, has relied heavily on the participation of other artists and citizens. I have not found a proper way to thank these individuals despite the importance of doing so. In particular, I want to talk about the participants in the NYSAT and TOSAT projects. I feel like I personally benefit from the projects more than the individual artists. While benefit is an odd word to use when talking about a public space activism project, it is something that has weighed heavy on my conscience.
I run these projects because I think they are important. I think they challenge the steadfast rules of public participation. I think they challenge people to consider themselves as active participants in the curation of their shared spaces. That said, there is no way that these projects would ever happen without the submissions, support, of all of the individuals who selflessly donate their work and time to the cause. These people are the true champions of civil disobedience whether they want to admit it or not.
Recently I read through the PaperGirl newspaper that was produced for PaperGirl 5. It spoke heavily about the act of gift giving as an important aspect of the project. It investigated what the benefits of gift exchange might be and how that might be worthwhile pursuing as an artistic and public project. I could not agree more with the conclusions they came to and I would like to use that idea to thank all of those who have contributed to the takeover projects.
While I have not come up with a way to champion the individual artists involved in the takeover projects beyond listing them on the website and thanking them individually, I would implore them to consider their work as a part of a symbolic gift exchange never seen before. Not only does their work act as a gift, enlivening public spaces worldwide, but their gift also functions as a tool for public protest, invigorating the profundity of their gift.
What do we expect from a gift given? truthfully we cannot expect anything, and in the words of PaperGirl, maybe a nod, or a wink of appreciation is the extent of our return. With the takeover projects, the individual artist gets no physical return on investment and this is what weighs heavy on me. I have not found a way to thank them appropriately. I hope and assume that return is not the motivation but still want to find a way to return the favor that is their donation and participation.
I guess what Im getting to here is that I want to continue to do these takeover projects in the future. I see an extended life for these projects and once ten deep, an appreciation for the publics concern for public space, both nationally and internationally. I see these projects expressing a global concern for how public space is being used. That said, to continue to do these projects I must rely on the countless brave and selfless individuals that donate their work without compensation or renumeration, again something I have not figured out how to provide appreciation for. In the end, the donation of work comes from an individual's belief in the ideals of the project. With that said, the donation of work also comes with, however little this may matter, my deepest appreciation for the individuals interest in promoting a healthy public space. I cannot thank them enough and I hope this small post, however trivial, expresses my deepest gratitude and helps motivate the continued participation from artists who might have more pressing concerns on their agenda.
The late David Ogilvy, who founded the Madison Avenue firm of Ogilvy & Mather that created such iconic campaigns as “The Man in the Hathaway Shirt,” is sometimes known as the father of modern advertising. So the fact that he also had a passionate hatred for outdoor advertising may come as something of a surprise. [More Here]