Art Everywhere: 12 Projects Transform Public Spaces into Guerrilla Galleries

Brandalism Replaces Bus Shelter Ads with Art

In the UK, an international collective of artists called Brandalism “revolts against corporate control of culture and space” by taking over ad spaces that usually celebrate consumption. “Brandalism use ‘subvertising’ as a lens through which we can view the intersectional social & environmental justice issues that capitalism creates,” they say. Their work ends up on all kinds of surfaces, including bus shelters throughout London’s busiest shopping district, as seen here.

Britain’s Red Phone Boxes Turned into Mini Galleries

Gallery on the Green in Settle - Postcard art in a red phone box

When Britain finally acknowledged that its famous red phone boxes were facing extinction, they ended up with 7,000 of them scattered through the streets, losing money via maintenance costs. But the British Telecommunications group (BT) didn’t want to just destroy this visual element of the nation’s heritage. So they offered many of them to the public to be transformed into new uses. Some of them ended up becoming mini libraries, sculptures or even vending machines, but one became ‘Gallery on the Green,’ billed “probably the smallest gallery in the world.”

Info Pillars Takeover in Toronto by cARTographyTO

A guerrilla group called cARTographyTO hacked 35 info pillars located throughout Toronto – which are supposed to contain useful information for people exploring the city on foot, but instead were full of ads – and put art in them instead. The aim of the project was to force the city to recognize that its info pillars were completely pointless, and it worked.

“We believe that it is sometimes necessary to reclaim public space from persistent and predatory private interests through non-violent and non-destructive creative tactics,” the group told GOOD. “We believe it is important to remain active and engaged with the city around us and we aim to raise awareness and generate discussion about our public spaces. We think these structures should be removed entirely, but failing this, that the structures should be drastically redesgined: ads should be removed and useful information should be an integral part of any ‘info’ pillars. In many cases, the art pieces that cARTographyTO installed are maps of the surrounding neighborhood – the contributors’ personal take on the area, its composition, complete with way finding tips.”

Harlem Art Collective Takes Over a Construction Wall

An abandoned wall outside a stalled construction site in Harlem was an eyesore. A group of artists called Harlem Art Collective saw it as an opportunity waiting to be grasped. They tried to get official approval, but after waiting an entire year without any replies, they decided to just take over the wall and turn it into ‘Guerrilla Gallery.’ “The wall had been dilapidated for the past eight years. We wanted to beautify the neighborhood and have something people could gather around and talk about.”