This week, just in time for the election, Art at a Time Like This and Save Art Space have installed 20 billboards by 20 artists around the five boroughs of NYC. You can find Marilyn Minter's at W. 45th Street and 11th Avenue. The others are worth a bike ride through LIC and Brooklyn, or up Webster Avenue in the Bronx. (You can always take a break at nearby Arthur Avenue for Italian delicacies.) Or try a ferry trip to Staten Island. A map of all the locations and images can be found here. Traveling around to see these works is empowering, letting the imagination create an alternative campaign to those of politicians fighting for their appointments. It's better than the dueling townhalls where one leader stirs the pot for a violent outcome to the election while the other calmly predicts a better-than-now future which is hard to believe. Of course, we prefer the latter, but no longer trust the polls.
This project reminds me of the early John Carpenter horror movie, They Live, where rebels have invented sunglasses that reveal the subliminal messages in advertisements, including billboards. We see the importance of the election in a new light by the juxtaposition of Guerrilla Girls BroadBand's list of good reasons to vote for Trump, an enemy of federally funded benefits, beneath a sign promoting enrollment in a Medicare program. Or Deborah Kass' Yo Vote, yellow letters on a bright blue background, that matches the colors of the ad for legal counsel just above. These artworks may not change minds, but offer to insert the point of view of artists into the political debate in our heads.
Optimally, it will motivate people to take action, such as manning phone banks or knocking on doors in swing states. At the minimum, these artists make us feel less alone, an antidote to the stress of the weeks leading up to the election.
This project was made possible by dozens of donations and sponsorship by V. Hansmann, Jane Lombard Gallery, Galerie St. Etienne, PPOW, Guerrilla Girl BroadBand and Publicide Inc. Media sponsor is Hyperallergic!