I hijacked the government’s Information Bulletin to bring attention to loneliness as both an important health and social issue.
I installed the first poster on the outside walls of a walk-in medical clinic. The poster might have been seen by health professionals going to work, patients going into the clinic, and people waiting for the bus. When I went back to check on the poster four hours later, it was gone. I then contemplated on what results I expected, which led me to re-design the poster and experiment with two other locations. In both locations, the poster was down within one to two days.
The Information Bulletin makes a private, taboo topic public by ‘making’ the government talk about it. I used deception to infiltrate the establishment and to put public space in the service of citizens; as Brandalism artists put it, “the street is a site of communication, which belongs to the citizens and communities who live there” (http://www.brandalism.org.uk/).
My spoof poster acts within the “movement of propaganda” acting as part educational propaganda and part criticism. Both Guy Debord & Gil J Wolman, and the artist group WochenKlausur, comment on the purpose and effects of art on society, tracing its evolution and its attempts in trying to liberate itself as mere commodity object. WochenKlausur points out that the poster is still an object that can be archived and collected by collectors and museums, and thus it can still be commodified. We have made progress, though, because according to WockenKlausur, today the détournement project, or “activist art, no longer overestimates its capabilities. But it does not underestimate them either. It makes modest contributions” (http://wochenklausur.at/).
To truly effect change, WochenKlausur suggests that “art must devote itself to very concrete strategies of effecting change.” The fake Information Bulletin can be safely described as making a modest contribution, for on its own it lacks a strategy to effect change. It can perhaps lead medical professionals to consider the topic and move people to seek more information, but the question has to be asked to what extent is it effective and what problem does it solve? If we believe that small acts equal small changes that will eventually amount to something, then as citizens and artists we might be moved to continue with modest contributions.
Nevertheless, a more thought-out strategy involving volume distribution may fetch better results. If the act were to be taken further and brought to the attention of the media, even fooling the media—in the style of YES men projects—then it can have the power to educate.