Mar 15, 2007

Madison Banksy-Sampling (Seventology) is Depressingly Corporate

Seventology - Madison Guerrilla "Art" (2007)

Defacing guerrilla art tactics themselves instead of the corporate facades they are supposed to challenge, the recent 777s that conjured UK-visionary Banksy's style in the streets of Madison were painted in vain. According to the Seventology website whose secret was "revealed" today at noon, the high-priced Madison housing market will gain a tower of new Steve Brown apartments at the University Square site branded "Lucky" where "it's not just a residence, it's a state of mind". The jarring transition from Seventology's mysterious webpresence to the glossy new Lucky website demonstrates that this "state of mind" has nothing to do with art.

The Seventology (777) campaign's guerrilla art strategies achieved the desired stir. Gritty spray-stenciled tags sent curious passersby to a website where ambiguous text about "positive change and good fortune" reeked of religious evangelism mixed with casino promotions. Aggressively painted logos seemingly attempted to anti-brand existing corporate advertisements. The sophisticated coordination of a street team and integrated television spots inspired dread about another liquor sponsorship or new energy drink. But the announcement of the entire campaign's purpose to rile consumers into a frenzy around the chance of winning $7,700 in meaningless cash on 7/7/07 is even more depressing.

In a culture where marketing selling product outweighs art discussing ideas more than 100:1, can we ever trust public art's authenticity? How can we let an artform created to dialogue and critique marketing's ownership of our streets become marketing itself? Is there no hope left for a shared investment (with corresponding vigor and funding) to fill our field of view with thoughtful art for the sake of thoughtful art... instead of fading corporate slogans? My "Day of Perfection" will occur when public art can be respected with more meaning than a cash giveaway business incentive. We have some work to do in response, Madison.

The Frames - Fake (mp3)

Jens Lekman - Pocketful of Money (mp3)


At Thursday, March 15, 2007, Blogger Mike said...

Something similar happened down here. "88 West" was spraypainted all over the sidewalks across campus, though notably not as street-arty as the subject of your post.

The confusing thing about it all is that a local arts advocacy organization is called 40 North 88 West. And while nobody can really claim the longitude of Champaign belongs to them alone, it seemed disingenuous.

More recently, and more puzzling, somebody has sprayed the phrase "KKK est 1906 at UIUC" across campus sidewalks. But that's it. If there's some activist organization demanding an apology or a recognition or anything, I have yet to hear from them.

At Saturday, April 07, 2007, Anonymous apt space said...

Right on. I thought about that strategy a bit when it happened and wondered a) if it worked? and b) would treatment of any "street team" members caught advertising be the same as someone who was, in the eyes of the law, vandalising?


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