The artists who launched it are calling it Australia’s ‘largest unsanctioned outdoor art exhibition’. Over the last week, 78 advertising boards in public spaces like bus shelters, tram stops and information booths in central business hubs were stripped of their paid advertising posters and replaced with bespoke artist renderings calling for ‘Real climate action now’. The guerrilla art campaign was launched by a collective of 41 Australian artists, and is ‘a direct reaction to the feelings of hopelessness and powerlessness experienced nationwide in recent weeks’.
Most of the posters allude to Australian cultural products, niche idioms and iconic images. A sooty Blinky Bill dashes from a looming blaze, a mural of Scott Morrison drinking cocktails in Hawaii is sprayed across a brick façade, and a Caramello Koala melts in the heat. By calling on Australian nationalism, and implying the destruction of these cultural icons, the posters reference a brand of rhetoric politicians have employed in their climate change denialism.
The collective particularly object to the country’s newspaper monopoly, which they accuse of misrepresenting climate science. ‘Beyond bushfires, the intervention speaks more broadly to the use of conventional advertising space in Australia’ they said in a statement.
With a combined reach of 700,000 on social media, the artists hope to use their own platforms to ‘question the position of the media landscape in Australia, and its coverage of issues concerning climate change’ on a more direct level. No dilution of the message through mainstream media outlets can occur when the media is your own.
Each poster holds a QR code which, once scanned by a phone camera, directs the user to one of 30 environmental charities and non government organisations including the World Wildlife Organisation and Bush Heritage Australia.
Participating Artists include Georgia Hill, Tom Gerrard, Sarah McCloskey, Amok Island, Andrew J Steel, Blends, Callum Preston, Cam Scale, Damien Mitchell, Dani Hair, DVATE, E.L.K, Ed Whitfield, FIKARIS, Fintan Magee, HEESCO, JESWRI, Ghostpatrol, Leans, Lluis fuzzhound, Lotte Smith, Lucy Lucy, Makatron, Michael Langenegger, Peter Breen, The Workers Art Collective, Stanislava Pinchuk, The Lazy Edwin, Thomas Bell, Tom Civil, WordPlay Studio, Peter Breen and many more artists and creative professionals who have chosen to remain anonymous.