In April 2019 all around Vantaa for two weeks ads were taken down and replaced by art. Essi Ruuskanen, a ViCCA major and Street Art Vantaa Collective member, curated this outdoor exhibition of 28 unique art posters and called it ‘Mainostauko‘ (Ad Break). Mainostauko was a comment and a well deserved break from constant flow of advertisement. The aim of the project was to criticise the dominance of ads in our public space without our consent and offer an alternative for the prevalent situation. Exhibited posters were designed by all together 31 artists from various different countries (including many ViCCA students) and the result was a polyphonic statement. City of Vantaa supported the project by offering abribus stands administered by them to our use.
Mainostauko is not supposed to present itself as a unique approach or be a one-time intervention. Ruuskanen hopes that similar projects would emerge regularly to balance the consumerist propaganda. Similar projects around the world have served as inspiration, among others #TrashCanTakeover (2018) in Philadelphia, “Art in Ad Places” (2017) by Caroline Caldwell & RJ Rushmore in New York and “Haluan nähdä muutakin” (2011) by Elissa Eriksson in Helsinki, which also inspired JCDecaux to launch a sequel campaign with design agency Kokoro&Moi called “Muutakin”. Ruuskanen does not want to point at an individual operator but to challenge everyone to produce noncommercial content into our common spaces. Communication in the public space can be enriched and diversified easily if outdoor advertising companies would commit to offer for example once a year free ad breaks to artists’ use. This way we could create a whole new genre of visual art instead of these individual campaigns.
Advertisement, placed in our public space and forced onto our everyday life, affect greatly how we think, what kinds of aesthetics and design we feel familiar with, which messages and people are allowed to be seen and heard and in the end also the decisions we make everyday. All these decisions and values in turn affect our shared reality and guide us forward. So far the path has been one of destruction. Impregnating our shared spaces with visualisations of capitalist values only strengthens the idea that humans are primarily consumers and that consumerist religion is the prevalent myth of our culture. All this can be challenged.
VENLA HAVERINEN and IDA LINDGREN
D.U. COLLECTIVE (Paola Jalili, Naya Magaliou, Else Lagerspetz)
PIETER-JAN VAN DAMME
AGNIESZKA POKRYWKA and HUMBERTO DUQUE
SHEUNG YIU and SAMRA ŠABANOVIC
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featured image – Tuomas Lehtomaa
Text by Essi Ruuskanen
Photo Credit Pieter-Jan Van Damme