Billboard Liberation Front / by Chris Hall

Last week I posted a blog where I briefly discussed the differences between art and advertising, how the two are often confused, and the ubiquity of advertising in our lives.  Many people have come to accept the visual pollution and propaganda as something normal, and even welcome in our lives (more people relish the idea of watching Super Bowl commercials than going to a museum).   But advertising, like propaganda, have ulterior motives that are self-serving and not always beneficial to the people whom they are directed.  While art and advertisement both use aesthetics in order to communicate a message, there are some notable differences in their intent.  Advertisement seeks your money, art, however, seeks the truth.  Fortunately, some artists are fighting back.  

Meet the Billboard Liberation Front.  The Billboard Liberation Front was founded by Jack Napier and Irving Glikk in San Francisco in 1977 and has since been altering billboards in the bay area in order to turn advertising into art.  Advertising seeks to seeks out your money, and not always by benevolent means.  Sometime what they advertise for are outright lies.  Art, on the other hand, aspires to truth, sometimes, beautiful, sometimes ugly, but always truth.  Using a practice developed by Guy Debord called detournement, the Billboard Liberation Front uses the language of the enemy, in this case, advertisement, in order to tell truths.  Below are some examples of their work.