In Montreal, fifty public space activists known as ARTUNG! have successfully taken back hundreds of spaces owned by the advertising companies Pattison, CBS Outdoor and Astral Media, filling the space instead with community artwork.
The Beehive Collective’s No Fences, No Borders for ARTUNG
Plateau Mont-Royal, the borough where the action was staged, recently voted to ban 45 billboards from the area. The advertising giants responded with a legal threat to reverse this democratically made decision, favored by 78% of residents. Their aggression inspired ARTUNG! to take direct action. Vanessa Moraless, an ARTUNG! campaigner offers this explanation in a press release:
Today, we transformed Montreal’s outdoor ads into public works of art to send a message to advertising giants: to stop threatening residents of the Plateau with an unnecessary legal battle and immediately remove their visual pollution from the whole of Montreal’s cityscape.
Rayures Horizontales Duct Tape by François Lalumière for ARTUNG!
Differing from the recent ad takeover in Madrid, ARTUNG! organizers invited artists to contribute handmade works, stencils, or stickers, or to leave the visual art materials at home and create a flashmob or performance art piece in the space. The goal was a “collage. . . a wonderful surprise to the community,” augmented by the participation of bloggers, community groups, and more.
ARTUNG! contributor Jordan Seiler’s Pink Earrings
In total, the action successfully removed 250 ads, and opened 110 boxes to install art. Many of the contributing artists will be familiar to Groundswell readers from past coverage of NYSAT and MaSAT, as well as the more recent planter installations in Toronto.
Now that the action is complete, ARTUNG! has opened the doors for further collaboration, making their website a platform for tracking guerrilla public space reclamation in Montreal, past and present. Residents and transients are encouraged to input their work, or their favorite piece they spotted at street-level.
Disclosure: Groundswell supported ARTUNG! by providing coverage and collaborators. All of the above photos are taken from cecinestpasunepub.net, where a full gallery of images from the action is hosted.