Photography, like any visual art, can serve a purpose bigger than its original intention; it's not merely a way to capture an instant. In our consumerist society, it is a weapon.
As Paris prepared to welcome leaders of the world for the UN Climate Change Summit, the UK-based guerilla art collective, Brandalism, took over Paris using classical advertising techniques to call on the general hypocrisy related to climate discussions. On Black Friday, the most hectic and competitive shopping day of the year, more than 600 pieces of art criticizing the hypocrisy of allowing certain companies to sponsor the summit were placed inside JCDecaux billboard spaces. Joe Elan from Brandalism said:
By sponsoring the climate talks, major polluters such as Air France and GDF-Suez-Energie can promote themselves as part of the solution, when actually, they are part of the problem.
Other prominent corporate sponsors of the climate talks, such as Mobil and Dow Chemicals, are parodied in the posters, whilst heads of state such as Francois Hollande, David Cameron, Barack Obama, Angela Merkel, and Shinzo Abi are not left untarnished. Over 80 renowned artists from 19 countries created the artwork, including Neta Harari, Jimmy Cauty, Banksy-collaborator Paul Insect, Escif, and Kennard Phillips.
The genius of some of these fake ads is that they replicated the advertising identity of the brands in question. Onlookers were thus also reminded that photography is just a tool and advertising, often far from being truth, is merely a way to sell a product. An image might be worth a thousand words, but the message conveyed depends on who is doing the talking. One of the artists taking part said:
We are taking their spaces back because we want to challenge the role advertising plays in promoting unsustainable consumerism. Because the advertising industry force-feeds our desires for products created from fossil fuels, they are intimately connected to causing climate change. As is the case with the climate talks and their corporate-sponsored events, outdoor advertising ensures that those with the most amount of money are able to ensure that their voices get heard above all else.”
Images used with permission of Brandalism