By Kasia Cieplak-Mayr von Baldegg interview: “Gwenaëlle Gobé, who directed the film, discusses the evolution of the project in an interview below. She also shares the trailer and an excerpt from the film, about activists whitewashing illegally placed billboards in New York City (and ironically, getting arrested for their efforts)”
The Atlantic: What inspired you to document this topic?
Gwenaëlle Gobé: Well, I come from a very opinionated family. Marketing and the international promotion of brands were definitively a hot topic at the dinner table, since my dad, Marc, has developed the branding for huge companies around the world. I feel he has a post-WWII, rosy view of brands saving the world from destruction and decay. He still sees corporations with a “Helvetica” innocence of neutrality and righteousness. He would say, “Look at the all the colors, the emotions, and social change they are involved in.”
Obviously I strongly disagree; I feel brands infiltrate our space, our privacy and our health without asking permission. Everywhere we go we are treated as potential consumers. There needs to be a place for everything, and we, as a culture, as individuals, are many other things besides consumers. It’s important to create and maintain public and private spaces that respect the citizen. Things are a bit out of control in Los Angeles; when I go for a walk sometimes I think, there is a virtual pick-pocketing going on.
Marc wanted to make videos for his website about the future of branding. He’s considered an international branding guru, has written many books on the subject, and thought it would be fun to make videos about his favorite topic. He read in the newspaper that the city of São Paulo had passed a law to take down all billboards. He was shocked. I was thrilled. He asked me if I could make the short film on the subject.
The film started a three-year debate on the topic, resulting in a groundbreaking transformation: we finally agreed on something.
Jeremy Hobson interview on NPR Marketplace: This Space Available and the problem with billboards. Read the interview transcript HERE.
Hobson: Well let's focus on the specifics. I drive by a famous building in Los Angeles all the time, it's on the corner of Wilshire and La Brea; it's an old building and it's got a big lit-up Samsung billboard on the top. What is wrong with that in principle?
Gobe: There's nothing wrong with buying and selling. But there is something wrong when wherever you go, whatever you do, you are treated as a consumer. There are places where that is appropriate, and there are places where that's not. There's a problem when students from a class don't recognize the trees that are in their neighborhoods, but if you show them an alphabet with just one letter picked out from logos, they will recognize every single brand.
The Brian Lehrer Show
This Space Available Director Gwenaëlle Gobé and Executive Producer Marc Gobé interviewed by the Peabody Award-winning program,The Brian Lehrer Show
Hosted & produced by Ondi Timoner, director of “DIG!,” “JOIN US” and “WE LIVE IN PUBLIC,”
“This Space Available,” filmmaker Gwenaëlle Gobé joins BYOD to discuss her examination of the visual pollution of advertisements.
Inspired by an anti-ad ordinance in Sao Paolo, Gwenaëlle explored the ongoing and accelerating phenomenon of advertising taking over public space, and how artists and guerilla artists are doing battle with commercial visual noise.
"This Space Available": Film Looks At Advertising As Visual Pollution in Public Spaces (Video) by Kimberley Mok
Winner of BEST OF AMERICA PHOTO CONTEST
For our Best of America Photo Contest we invited you to send an image that conveyed what you love about our country. Here are three winners that stood out from hundreds of submissions.
“I like to focus on the faces in the crowd rather than on the main spectacle. I captured this boy’s elated expression at President Obama’s inauguration in January.”—Gwenaëlle Gobé, New York, New York