exhibition, urban campaign
July 1-7, 2009
contaminated urban public surfaces in the centre
Novi Sad, Serbia

As part of the Open Design Studio 03 Project, an exhibition of works by graphic design and new media students from Novi Sad Academy of Arts was organized and held on Wednesday 1.7.2009. The work was showcased on the outdoor advertising space situated at Narodnih Heroja 3, Novi Sad. The project idea originated from the necessity to resolve some of the ongoing visual culture problems of Novi Sad: unavailability of outdoor advertising spaces, reasoning behind the promotion of instant capitalism, overall pollution of the urban environment by application of advertising materials at inappropriate places (trees, building facades, poles and other areas not intended for advertising purposes)

It is precisely these locations, labeled as inadequate and unintended for public advertising, which served as the exhibition premises. More than 20 city locations were used as application areas for students to exhibit their work and “interventions” by means of posters, stickers, graffiti stencils, and sound installations, all in an attempt to draw attention to the tragic misuse of public advertising space and visual pollution of the city.Director of City Greenery Snežana Repac attended the workshop opening and, along with other participants, received flyers containing information about the exhibition objectives and locations around the city where other works were showcased. Oddly enough, exhibition participants and visitors were faced with an interesting situation – majority of exhibited work was taken down or posted over within one hour with other advertising materials, mostly originating from the Exit music festival’s promotional campaign.Presented work was conceptualized as a reaction to the problems of visual spamming of the city, whose late uncontrolled expansion inspired advertisers and their employees to utilize inadequate spaces for their commercial means.

At the same time, project ethics steered away from the sterilization of the urban environment, merely pointing out the problems of information and visual pollution of the post-socialist urban environment.It seems absurd that this particular exhibition, an important asset to the community and local ecological activism, was ripped down and posted over within hours by the unscrupulous Exit festival campaign, which, ironically, utilized ecology as one of the main media weapons. One of the students was noted for saying: “Exit has, as one of the initiators of upheaval in the culture and entertainment sectors, disappointed us in its attempt to annihilate our own efforts...especially now, when they try to portray themselves as an organization supportive of artistic and cultural trends of this city, at the same time illegally applying their campaign materials on public areas, thus undermining our concurrent effort to decontaminate the urban environment of visual pollution.

This has already happened two or three times, so it didn’t make sense to try to keep up the pace of such an organized diversion…it all happened in a very short time span, which indicates how well structured and planned-out this festival is, but not when it comes to collaboration and support of independent projects, such as this one”.