Italian based artist BR1 has pasted his artwork in places such as Rome, Istanbul, London, Paris, Berlin and home-base Torino. His favourite subject is the muslim woman, as they go about their normal everyday lives in brightly coloured veils. He wrote for us a little insight into his world…
The billboard is the natural place of advertising bills. As well as cultural and political bills, commercial bills are the most diffused in the public space and their function is univocal: advertising a product. The advertising of a product becomes effective when it is represented on a lot of billboards, in different streets of the city, because billboards are an element of the street furniture that doesn’t pass unnoticed. Everybody looks at them during the day and they become bigger along the highways, going from the city centers to the suburbs.
So, this is the question: why are these elements of the streets exclusive supremacy of enterprises?
Billboards stand in the streets like traffic lights, benches or letterboxes, which are all elements with a precise social function. I am not sure that commercial billboards have a social function.
Starting from this preliminary remarks, I am developing my study on billboards: my aim is to give a social and cultural function to billboards.
However, advertisement bills are subject to a frenetic rhythm, as the creation of artificial needs and the consumerism boost: advertising is so fast that it is impossible for us to control it. But it is possible to interfere with it, entering in this advertising frenetic cycle, pasting up a draw on a billboard, ripping out bills from the billboards or playing with the message of the bill, modifying the meaning of the ads.
In my experience, I realize art on billboards in order to reclaim them, and I would like everybody, with consciousness-raising, to start to express art, opinions, ideas on this support created to launch messages: freedom of expression in the public space.
Unfortunately, my installations haven’t long life: they will be phagocytized by the new ad campaign that will cover the artwork. Without mercy. The market system hasn’t remorses.
The important thing, looking at an ephemeral art intervention, is that people understand that city can become more liveable and harmonious with the presence of art installations in place of commercial advertising.
The solution can be converting commercial billboards into free expression billboards. More colour in the city, more critical ideas instead of a cold, artificial and oppressive situation in which we live everyday along the streets, saturated of advertising.
Today this thinking could seem utopian, but I believe in a consciousness-raising.
See more of BR1’s work at br1art.blogspot.com.au
Originally published in Yume Magazine #4 (December 2012)