Are Hijacked Ads In Berlin Art or Vandalism?

By Stephen Fuchs on Email @StephenWFuchs

Vermibus Vimeo

We can pretty much count on seeing some form of advertising throughout the day, whether we stay inside or go to work. The ad industry has found a way to make their client’s message seen or heard no matter what your daily habits might be. Some may say we have become¬†desensitized to the messages we are seeing, but some artists feel the subtle messages of false perfection make their way into our minds whether we want it to or not.

One of these artists, going by the name Vermibus, has started to make a name for himself in Berlin, and across Europe, for his questionable practice of hijacking outdoor billboards throughout the city. Having worked in the industry as a fashion photographer himself, Vermibus has had enough of the superficiality of the fashion industry and it’s involvement in brand advertising.

In an interview with DW, Vermibus commented that a “photo is taken of a model and is changed until it is exactly as they want. This is not real. This is absolutely fake. If you are looking for perfection, this is not perfection.”

So what has this Berlin artist done to get his message across? Vermibus decided to remove fashion posters from advertising lighboxes found at many bus stops and street corners, and brings them back to his studio to transform it into a piece of artwork that removes the beauty from the image before eventually reinstalling them to their original locations.

While Vermibus may be getting his message across with these ghoulish modifications, the issue of the legality of his hijacking has been questioned. A spokesperson for Wall AG,¬†Germany’s leading billboard provider, commented that “Ads being changed or removed by artists are a minor problem and occur rarely. However, it is illegal and might lead to legal actions.”

Vermibus on the other hand believes he is working in an ethical way. “I’m not destroying the lightbox with a bat. I have a key, I open it, I change the poster and that’s it. It’s not anarchy; it’s an alternative message, to say that this is a public space,” he said to DW.

Companies paying money to have their advertisement displayed in their original condition may not see it the same way though.


Sources: Vermibus, DW
Photo: Vermibus [shot taken from Vimeo]

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Stephen Fuchs
Stephen founded German Pulse and LGBT Germany out of a passion to introduce Americans to a Germany that goes beyond beer and polka (although with enough beer he has been known to polka it up a bit). He's a coffee addict, lover of wine and good times, a hit in the kitchen and editor of TV commercials. You can follow him on Twitter (@StephenWFuchs) to find out a lot more.
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