“Subvert the city” – international action against advertising and consumerism in public space.
Project “One of 1580” by SC Szyman and NeSpoon
After the fall of communism in 1989, the public space of our country, Pland, was literally flooded with adverts. There were no legal tools to control this process. Earlier, they were not needed, as outdoor advertising behind the Iron Curtain was almost non-existent. Later, both international corporations and local businessmen used all the legal gaps to transform the landscape into a visual rubbish tip.
We couldn’t stand this and in 2007 as a group of friends we launched a NGO, “Miasto Moje A w Nim”. It had one aim, to introduce law that would control and limit the presence of adverts in the public space. After seven years of lobbying, we managed to convince the parliament to pass a suitable act. Today, the flashiest ad forms are disappearing from streets and advertising agencies are observing the rules.
At the beginning, our NGO had many invitations to directly and physically attack ads. Not even subvertise but simply destroy them. We were always against this. We stood in a position that if we followed that path, we’d be called radicals and lose credibility. We’d no longer be perceived by authorities as serious partners in a debate, as it happens with radical ecological organisations. This strategy turned to be right.
However, as street artists we use subvertising to prostest against all forms of the advertising in public space, because the problem is not the amount of it, but the fact that it still shaped the city landscape and promote consumerism. The best example of it is a fact, that the city of Warsaw changed lately 1580 bus stops into advertising structures in the process of “modernization”.