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'Brandalism' rampage leaves subversive damage in its wake

Forty street artists wreak havoc on more than 365 ads in a matter of days. But why?

Video screenshot by Rusty Blazenhoff/CNET

Over the weekend, several gangs of guerilla artists asked no one's permission to replace hundreds of corporate ads with giant artwork in cities all over the United Kingdom. This large-scale exercise in culture jamming is the work of Brandalism, a group whose mission is to "revolt against corporate control of the visual realm."

Ad-busting crews organized by Brandalism swapped out ads in public spaces in 10 UK cities with "lovingly hand printed" black-and-white posters made by international artists.

A staggering 365 outdoor corporate ads were replaced in just two days, in broad daylight no less, by these radical anti-consumerist activists donning orange safety vests. Organizers are calling it the "largest advertising takeover in world history."

"Any advert in a public space that gives you no choice whether you see it or not is yours. It's yours to take, re-arrange and re-use. You can do whatever you like with it," said controversial street artist Banksy in 2012, "Asking for permission is like asking to keep a rock someone just threw at your head.

"You owe the companies nothing. Less than nothing, you especially don't owe them any courtesy. They owe you. They have re-arranged the world to put themselves in front of you. They never asked for your permission, don't even start asking for theirs."

See the list of participating artists and their posters, as well as a map of what cities were hit, at the Brandalism site.

Also, check out this video that shows some of the "hidden in plain sight" Brandalists swapping out ads in their effort to take back the "visual landscape":

(Via Wooster Collective)