Thanks to the 106 artists and individuals that contributed their heartfelt thoughts and concerns for this project. Without your participation MaSAT could not have happened.
MaSAT (Madrid Street Advertising Takeover) is the second international SAT project, and the third in a continuing series of civil disobedience projects aimed at reclaiming space for public dialogue in a commercially saturated environment. The action took place on 03-30-11 and resulted in 106 bus shelter advertising removals. MaSAT began after PublicAdCampaign was contacted by NEKO and A. De Pedro who requested that we come to their city for a large action. In the last two projects, artists and individuals were asked to create or submit artworks which would be used to replace outdoor advertising. This is done through an open call which allows anyone to participate in the event because we feel all of our voices should be represented on the streets. When I told the Madrid team that an open call could result in hundreds of submissions they made it clear that 100 should be the maximum as anything larger would be too risky. This required us to curate 100 individuals for the project, something I was not entirely comfortable with. That said, these projects are entirely collaborative and it is important to trust those who you work with. Not quite understanding how I would go about curating a public project like this, we began to bounce ideas back and forth about a way to create a democratic project while at the same time curating the submissions.
NEKO proposed that instead of artwork submissions we ask only for text. In this way the project would step outside of the artistic arena and become public in an entirely different way than we had conceived of before. I was ecstatic about this idea and together we created a list of artists, sociologists, teachers, lawyers, gallerists, bloggers, and other individuals who think deeply about what it means to have an open public environment. Each individual was asked to submit text via email. This text could be in any language and of any length but could not include the individuals name, logo, or website. I was overwhelmed by the nature of peoples submissions which included heartfelt sentiments, critical public space theories, short stories, and unique text design work. In this way the streets of Madrid were covered with public works made to create conversations and dialogues without promotion and as a gift to the city.
Once we had decided on the format for submissions, planning of the action began. Both NEKO and A. De Pedro had worked in bus shelters before and so suggested we use these venues for our takeover. 4 keys were procured so that 4 teams could work in unison. A call was made to the Madrid community for on the ground installation support and photographic documentation. Within days we had teams in place and our participants submitting work. I arrived in Madrid on the 24th and we set to the task of printing posters, mapping locations, and organizing the action. It took a little under a week to get everything in place and everyone was itching to hit the streets.
April 30th we set out at 5:30am in 4 teams, each consisting of a trolley filled with posters, 3 installers, and one photographer. The action took less than an hour and I sit writing this only hours after we finished. As it looks now, Cemusa has discovered that they have been targeted and we have been watching workers check and count the takeover locations. While I would expect them to remove our work immediately, they have not. This is either because they do not have commercial content to fill these spaces, or like in Toronto, they are documenting the damage. If this is the case we are hoping that these public works will stay up for a few days while they figure out how to remedy the situation. Until then, from all of those involved in MaSAT, we hope Madrid enjoys a small bit of relaxation from the burden of commercial messaging and will enjoy the conversations and ideas created by our love for this city.
A special thanks to NEKO, A. De Pedro, Nuria, C100, Jaime Alekos, Dos Jotas, Luzinterruptus, Sue, Rosh, Clara Urra, 3ttman, Emile, Falansh. Without their incredible dedication to this project we could not have made this happen. It is rare indeed to meet such an amazing group of people, particularly in another country and under such interesting circumstance. Un Abrazo Fuerte Madrid.