“You are Still Alive” Billboard

Steve Lambert was just one of the artists who were included in the 2010 Art Moves Billboard Festival in Torun, Poland. His work, titled “You are Still Alive” is a tongue-in-cheek interpretation of motivational imagery. The photograph is fantastic and seems to draw my attention more than the billboard itself. It seems like the outcome is a little different when billboards are used to hold an exhibition instead of used in their original locations to a non-commercial end–like our previous …and then the city billboard project. Even though I enjoy the idea of a billboard exhibition, somehow I feel this specific work would make more of an impact in a busy urban center.

Luckily for the crew, installation could be done on ground level.

Here are a few of the billboards chosen for the festival. What if Windsor’s Art in the Park had a billboard contest?

8 Replies to ““You are Still Alive” Billboard”

  1. Interesting post Josh, though I wonder if the context of the billboard (being at “ground” level and being part of a contest) might neutralize it’s ability to shock the viewer in the way a re-appropriated billboard (non-commercial use in a commercial space)?

  2. For sure, I hear ya. I was hinting at this fact in the post. This could just as well be sponsored by Sprite or something, you know?

  3. Yeah, using billboards in their urban context is arguably what makes using billboards interesting. However, I think your idea, Josh, of having some kind of critical mass of large-scale surfaces that could be accessed for a one-off project could be great fun. Imagine putting some kind of set of billboards on the white silos of Hiram Walkers, lots of possibilites whether facing Windsor or Detroit.

    P.S. Steve Lambert was at the Creative Time Summit this weekend. Didn’t meet him, but his question to the panel was the best of the entire summit.

  4. Hi all,
    Interesting conversation here. I thought about some of these questions when deciding whether or not to do the project. Ultimately, I think of art on billboards as a kind of victory – if not a step in the right direction. I like that this festival makes people think of ways they would improve on it… maybe someone will…

    1. I completely agree with you Steve! I think you made the right choice in deciding to undertake the project and I am interested in how you’ve reclaimed a medium that is usually completely commercial. This type of exhibition might still be in its infancy (it seems so anyways), but I can only see fascinating things coming from it. By the way, thanks for stopping by and commenting!

      1. Though I’ll be the first (ok, not really the first) to say there’s an issue when it’s used to legitimate the existence of billboards. This can be used as an argument that billboards companies *do* allow freedom of expression or community involvement – when really they don’t. It’s like when cigarette or oil companies sponsor art events – it’s a way to legitimize their crimes.

        I don’t know how well I walked that line here because I don’t know the broader politics of the billboard industry in Poland.

        I was offered space like this in San Francisco through the SF Arts Commission (see wish you were here) and took it. It’s important to realize you’re in a dance with the devil.

        1. I think being aware of that dance is not only important, but productive. New occasions for implicating artwork in these spaces provide new contexts for the work itself.

          When we did our billboard project, there was a lot of negotiation with the billboard company about what we submitted, which in turn changed what we thought the work needed to do in those spaces and ultimately the work itself. That negotiation also shapes how we think and talk about the work now, for better or worse.

          Somehow though, it seems to have added a level of complexity to the process that I enjoy — perhaps getting to put up exactly what we wanted would have been too easy. And, it makes me ask myself what would be lost in the experience of working in public if that process working through those situations wasn’t part of it.

          p.s. a Z-LINE between Windsor/Detroit would be perfect.

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