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Adbusting

July 20, 2005

On the way from my apartment to the subway every morning, I come across a small battlefield in the war for control of public space. That may seem like a melodramatic way to describe some cardboard boxes taped over a payphone advertisement, but fuck it. This little ad display has been scratched, smashed, spraypainted, graffiti’d, and, most often, covered with cardboard boxes and wood boards (picture at right). Every morning, someone covers it up, someone else comes and cleans it up, and the next morning it’s covered again.
The ad is one of three for beer companies on my morning route. One is a billboard obviously targeting young African-American males, the other two are generic payphone displays. This one is in front of the local mosque, smack in the middle of the sidewalk hangout spot for the neighborhood’s Muslim community. Since the Quran calls alcohol “Satan’s handiwork” it’s not surprising that this ad’s arrival was probably viewed as an unwelcome intrusion.
I don’t want to read too much into this, but after the recent controversies over Hummer and Time magazine‘s street art ad campaigns, passing by this one every day made me think about all the tiny ways that art, public space, and commercialism are contested day to day. Just thought I’d share.

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One comment on “Adbusting”

It seems that everyspace has its price now. Untapped resources are scarce, let only I reveal any of what I may discover. This reminded me of a Friday evening dinner at the Cheesecake Factory last week (http://thecheesecakefactory.com ) . The menu has advertisements in it. Just sickening. As if I’m not spending enough for a watered down fruity drink and some butter soaked bread.

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