How do you pull off a proper sequel? By going bigger and better in every regard than you did in the first outing. That’s the lesson of every follow-up from The Empire Strikes Back to World War II, and it’s one that Brandalism–the collective of street artists who collaboratively subvert advertising in massively-orchestrated campaigns–learned well.
In the follow-up to the group’s 2012 campaign, which saw eight different artists poster over 33 London billboards with original messages, “Brandalism 2014” last week brought 40 different artists to 10 different cities in the U.K., replacing a whopping 365 corporate bus shelter ads with original handmade art–most of which carried a subversive, culture-jam style message. A spokesman for the group described the its motives after the 2012 “campaign”: “Advertising does not stress the value of a collective long range future and the prevailing values of the commercial system provide no incentives to develop bonds with future generations. Faced with growing ecological and social crises, and with advertising being the engine of an unsustainable and detrimental economic system, it must be viewed as one of the major obstacles to our survival as a species.”
To capture the sheer brass it takes to pull off something like this over two days in one of the most heavily surveilled countries in the world, Brandalism’s participants documented their actions, which can be seen in the short YouTube video above. There are bold artists in brightly colored road hazard vests–the universal sign for “I’m supposed to be doing whatever I’m doing right now”–unscrewing the frames of the bus shelter ads to replace them with new messages, often in places where pulling off such feats seems particularly risky. It’s quite a project, and one that the Brandals seem eager to see continued by others: the group’s site includes a DIY guide to opening up and replacing bus shelter ads, so you too can brandalize in broad daylight.