On Billboards, Or More Precisely, Not On Billboards

Damn, but that is one fantastic propaganda billboard. James Hill shot it for the NY Times. Apparently, it's in Abkhazia, and the two guys are the presidents of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, two breakaway provinces of Georgia.

LAXART curates an art billboard pretty well, and I guess the medium's appreciated more there, but I'm really surprised at how rare are the instances of traffic-stopping, naturalistic [sic] photography on a billboard.

There's Felix, of course, and maybe he's part of the problem, because he set my expectations so high with his 1992 MoMA Projects show, which consisted of a photo of his and Ross's unmade bed on billboards around Manhattan. Coming across those things in the cityscape blew my tiny little mind.

But then, it was the early 90s, and Benetton was certainly making use of naturalistic or photojournalistic imagery in its advertising. We're so inured to the standard billboard vocabulary--Alive! Newport compositions, supergraphics, 3D gimmicks, blownup print ads--that they stop registering, if not become completely invisible. And yet unless we go to Abkhazia, all we get is Patrick $#*%ing Mimran's vapid fortune cookie sayings.

Since 2001 here at greg.org, I've been blogging about the creative process—my own and those of people who interest me. That mostly involves filmmaking, art, writing, research, and the making thereof.

Many thanks to the Creative Capital | Warhol Foundation Arts Writers Program for supporting greg.org that time.

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greg [at] greg [dot ] org

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first published: July 21, 2009.

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