The Billboard Campaign
In Partnership with HCP for FotoFest Houston 2018
March 10 - April 22, 2018
Opening + Conversation
March 10, 11-1pm
For Freedoms is an artist-run initiative, founded in 2015 by artists Eric Gottesman and Hank Willis Thomas to mobilize the arts infrastructure of the United States toward broader civic participation using the tools of political campaigns, activism, and advertising. The Billboard Campaign(2016– ) is an ongoing series of artist-produced billboard installations in public spaces and in art spaces. Co-opting the billboard format—a tool of political advertising—these works invite the viewer to engage critically both with the messages they present and with the medium of political advertising itself.
This billboard was produced in conjunction with the For Freedoms-organized town hall discussion The Artifice of Drawn Borders. It includes an image from a series of photographs by Eric Gottesman. This series, Jordan Is Not A Country, explores the manufactured phenomenon of nationalism in the Middle East. In a desert landscape stands a porous fence with holes, bent supports, and gaps, symbolic of the fragile veneer of nationalistic structures anywhere, and recalling concerns about immigration and citizenship here in the United States.
The words at the top of the image—“Where do we go from here?”—might evoke multiple associations: the words of the migrant confronting such divisive structures; the thoughts of many people today, who wonder about the current status of where we are as a nation; and Paul Gauguin’s inscription on his painting Where Do We Come From? What Are We? Where Are We Going? (1897–98), in the MFA’s collection.