Cities often try to find solutions against the excess of advertising in public space. Shop owners and entrepreneurs are forbidden to have light signs or banners that affect the visual character of the public domain too much. Such happened in São Paulo for instance, where the mayor decided to remove all advertising in public space. This is a great way of city-marketing in itself by the way. In other cities such as Amsterdam, the governmental morality is rather complicated. Shop owners in Amsterdam’s most liveable and important street Damrak are requested to take their signs away in order to preserve the historical townscape. To the contrary, the whole city is full of banners and advertisement spaces exploited by the local government themselves, and organized by a company called Bizon.
Some days ago Urban Shit and Rebel Art wrote an interesting post about a guerilla advertising exhibition in Vienna. The collective Phorm organizes an exhibition called GEWITZTA, which deals with the issue of ownership of the city’s visual space. Along the project comes a ‘DIY Reclaim Your City Kit’. This box enables people to, for instance, hack a city light poster. The key which provides access to the poster box is copied and spread as a part of the DIY kit. The project is called GEWITZTA after the name of the Austrian company organizing the public advertising Gewista.
“The name GEWITZTA is a wordplay. The company that owns nearly all the advertisement areas in Vienna is called GEWISTA and the modification to GEWITZTA means “shrewd”. So that is of course an artistic attack against the monopoly of a huge advertisement area providing company. In Austria free placarding is anchored in the right of freedom of expression but the company which is providing the areas for advertisement wanted to make a monopoly on this and remove every poster (placarded by e.g. small cultural institutions) to achieve that those institutions had to pay high prices for placarding in the city. This affected political movements as well. For there are nearly no free areas provided by the city and the company for placarding.”