Last spring, a billboard featuring an ad for a butt-lift was put up outside the Brooklyn apartment of artist Caroline Caldwell. Initially amused by the 30-foot-tall naked derriere outside her bedroom window, time and thought made her tired of the blatant attempt to make her feel bad about her own body.
“I became determined to fill my life with art that would make people feel anything else,” said Caldwell in an interview with art magazine Hyperallergenic. To that end, she teamed up with RJ Rushmore and organized “Art in Ad Places,” a year-long campaign to fill ad-space with art instead of merchandising.
“Art in Ad Places is a response to the belief that money can buy access to eyeballs, no matter the message. It is a small effort to clean up public space: instead of ads making people feel inadequate, let’s fill our lives with art that makes people feel… anything else,” the website reads.
However, they haven’t quite managed to replace billboards just yet. Instead, the organization is targeting small ad inserts at bus-stops and telephone kiosks. Every week, they install art by a different artist into paid ad-space. The first collaboration, kicking off 2017, was with photographer Andrew Wallacavagh.
His imagery was placed in a phone kiosk at Metropolitan Avenue and Lorimer Street, in Brooklyn. Upcoming artists to be featured in the campaign include John Burgerman, Molly Crabapple, Tatyana Fazlalizedah, John Fekner, Jeffrey Givson, Cheryl Pope, and Tod Seelie, with more to come. Future artists will be announced via the Art in Ad Places’ website as well as their social media spaces.
Caldwell and Rushmore intended to launch the campaign in November, but found themselves stalled due to the shock of the presidential election. But in the wake of that, while nothing in the project includes an anti-Trump message, they believe their efforts against aggressive shame-based advertisements to be more important than ever.
Art in Ad Places is supported by sponsors who choose to remain anonymous.