Advertising Wants To Covert Our Desire For A Better Life Into A Desire To Buy Something, 96 sheet billboard poster, DOT Arena Festival, Leicester, photograph by Alice Evans

Commissioned by DOT, for the Arena Festival of Contemporary Art, 1 – 16 November 2008. Freee made the work Advertising Wants To Covert Our Desire For A Better Life Into A Desire To Buy Something which was displayed on a 96 sheet billboard site at the corner of Checketts Road and Little Avenue, Leicester LE4 7QN from Monday 3rd – Sunday 16th November 2008.

The Freee art collective have produced a billboard work addressing the gap between the utopian promises of liberal consumerism and the harsh reality of neo-liberal market forces. Advertising Wants To Covert Our Desire For A Better Life Into A Desire To Buy Something is a work that occupies the place of the advert only to propose a total reconfiguration of advertising – and everything.

Ads have become a prominent feature of public space and the public sphere. No consideration of popular culture, urban experience, economics, the public sphere or art’s social context can ignore it. Advertising is, in effect, the perfect public sphere for a society geared towards consumption, markets and profit. This means that advertising is always an advert for capitalism in general before it is an advert for any product in particular. As an industry and as individual campaigns, advertising is at once made possible by capitalism and crushed by it. As such, it is not only our desire for a better life that is redirected into purchases, it is advertising itself that is ruined for the sake of sales.

The radical response, however, is not to obliterate advertising nor to reform it. Advertising in its current form is entirely embedded in contemporary capitalism. It is only the abolition of capitalism that can bring about the kind of shift in advertising that Freee are calling for. And this is why their latest video of a string of mini protest performances in Trafalgar Square is called Everyone Is A Guerrilla Advertiser (After The Revolution).

Freee’s billboard proposes itself as a counter-advertisement. The three artists pose with their faces masked by homemade bandanas. This image is not a celebration of advertising execs and their slick marketing. It is an attempt to imagine advertising as available to everyone, not an industry monopolized by big business. The image carries a slogan but it also carries an implicit message: everyone is or can be a guerilla advertiser.

Freee put these critical aims into practice by occupying the billboard site and yet refraining from advertising any product. Advertising that engages in a political critique of advertising and the society that requires advertising to survive is advertising for another world.

Advertising Wants To Covert Our Desire For A Better Life Into A Desire To Buy Something, 96 sheet billboard poster, DOT Arena Festival, Checketts Road, Leicester

Advertising Wants To Covert Our Desire For A Better Life Into A Desire To Buy Something, DOT Arena Festival, Leicester




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