Critical appropriations and usurpations from the advertising iconosphere in Spanish actual art. 2000-2014

This study takes as starting point the existing links inside the art-publicity binomial, with the purpose of bringing back these relations to the present moment as well as to put them under the context of Spanish actual art, especially during the period 2000-2014. In order to articulate a theoretical discourse it is set up such a relation from the appropriations that Art operates over publicity. A kind of Appropriationism that, applied to the artistic productions studied in this work, posses a truly critical role.

The artists who configure this works make use of mechanisms extracted from the advertising universe in order to take them to the field of visual arts and, from there, spread a series of messages transfigured into critical products, which served as a strategy at the same time that they induce the observer to critical thought.

We lived in a world full of images where, through publicity and mass media, every moment is converted into a specific information source which deals about hegemonic stereotypes in contemporary society. Advertising acts as a big predator able to generate different scenarios for fiction, from where it sells its products to us. It also injects ideologies using metonymies which, in some way, refer to the meaning of life.

This work starts analyzing the relations between art and publicity likewise the process of development of art appropriations. A process which leads into the constitution of the tendency called Appropriatonism.

Once the semiotic fundaments of the relation art-advertising have been established is necessary to pay attention to the political potential of Art, since the works studied here have been created to function with critical purposes. These works pretend to be inserted into publicity machinery, in order to launch from inside their own critical messages outside, aiming directly to the heart of the system; a system that usually makes use of them (market and State). This approach let us get into concepts and precedents related with the entire political Spanish art spectrum as well as let us consider the grade of effectiveness that this kind of proposals could have inside our shared iconosphere.

In order to demonstrate these hypothesis we have started from specific objectives which make indispensable bring up a theoretic discourse in relation with the appropriation of advertising strategies from a critical perspective. Such a discourse it has been focused in Spanish art, specifically with works made from the year 2000 to 2014.

At the same time we have produced a program which studies three main points which are deeply interconnected. These points are: firstly, the relations between art and advertising; secondly, Appropriationism as artistic tendency; and finally, the present or actual Spanish political art.

On one hand, all these subjects are studied from the certainty that the relations between art and advertising have been produced from the very beginning of the publicity industry, attracting some artists who have approached to this strategies stimulated by a desire of experimentation as well as by the collaboration possibilities that this artistic field offers. On the other hand these subjects are studied from the consciousness that the middle of XIXth century was the starting point for political art; an art of opposition which looks for agitate the people, serving as an instrument of reflection and for questioning the system of hegemonic values where we live in.

In this work the concept of Appropriationism is taken as a way of production that search for establishing a certain analogy with publicity strategies. From this appropriation, the artists make use of their different means, which are presented in this work as four separate but related sections which collect the fundamental communication elements of advertising, such as brand, campaign, text (understood as slogan and propagandistic lemma) and context, the latter being the distribution channel for advertising products.

In closing, we pretend to question this hazy field where it is a complex matter to differentiate one publicity campaign from an artistic intervention, especially when we take into account the resources of the new way of making advertising as well as the urban interventions, moreover when both of them could be blended with other artistic operations.

These creators offer their artistic projects as counter-campaigns or fictional campaigns which, however, express certain aspects of reality which are sometimes hidden. These kinds of works run the risk of being deactivated by the same scenario in which are inserted, such as the public space, full of images competing one with each other, or from the institutional artistic context, which can produce counter-discourses which propitiate a sole aesthetic point of view, devoided of  its original critical apparatus.

These artists try to articulate, from an attitude of compromise and responsibility, a work that pretend to be kept intact, in order to get transmitting their own message, inducting the observer into reflection. Nevertheless we can observe how often the official institution cancels these contents, assuming their imaginaries and converting them in their own. The regular areas for artistic exhibitions make use of these pieces, promoting them and re-directing their initial content. The artists realize of this danger and because of that they create works from an attitude of resistance, trying to get their final objective at all costs.

Advertising spaces are converted too into elements that neutralize the artistic works, making them passing by and becoming them almost invisible. We cannot forget that these spaces for publicity are very adulterated and can make that these artistic interventions become totally imperceptibles. They are able to affect a massive public, in contrast with the minority public affected in exclusively artistic areas.

We can see how these artists, from an attitude of compromise, propose new languages which try to reach and affect the observer, producing a public with more critical sense; making people able to reflect about the necessity of a thoroughly revision of different aspects linked to our social and political context. These messages are needed, because they are able to make visible the invisible. We must be aware of the limits of the scope of application as well as of the fact that from Art is not possible to propitiate a revolution or a change of state in a “system” as strong as ours is, although any help is welcome.