An Art of Fly Postering (Manifesto)


An Art of Fly Postering (Manifesto)


” If one wanted to make a work of art which was blank, an absence, a cancellation, some how devoid of meaning, it would clearly be impossible.”

Joseph Kosuth


Fly-postering is not by any means necessarily classed as Art. It falls into the many categories, principally advertising and vandalism. However with activism on the side and street-art  combined with new media finally being excepted into the culturally deep history of art, the art of postering can now be a choice of a ‘medium’ for artists wanting to get their message to the streets, not just soley for an art-public, with acceptance.  


But this is no shallow postmodern flux. It’s much more.  




It’s a movement of a medium that could subscribe to the dematerialization notion of the art object. When Lucy Lippard coined the notion of dematerialization in her seminal text “The Dematerialization of Art” from 1968, she identified dematerialization with the so-called ultra-conceptual art that “emphasizes the thinking process almost exclusively” and “may result in the object becoming wholly obsolete”.


However, understanding that the idea of the “object becoming wholly obsolete” is merely a phrase from a much bigger conversation, I want to also discuss another understanding of dematerialization discussed by Jacob Lillemose. His understanding is that the dematerialization is as a negation or dismissal of materiality as such, but also how it can be comprehended as an extensive and fundamental rethinking of the multiplicity of materiality beyond its connection to the entity of the object.


In dematerialization its understanding is a conceptual, yet not transcental relation, to materiality. By Lillemose’s view, dematerialization is an aesthetics in which the conceptual is already material, rather than the aesthetic of conceptual ideas over-superiority approach to the materiality of an art object. 


Of course, please notice that Lillemose is careful to note that this is just merely another perspective/take on the definition of the notion of ‘dematerization’ in relation to the art object. And that he doesn’t disagree with the general overflowing idea of Lippard’s paper. He is simply opening discourse to cover artists, and mediums such as new media art, that should be included into the idea.


Now, my argument is that the transformation of art from an autonomous object to a contextual materiality is developed further by a certain strand of contemporary artists working with immateriality in the context of new media art and postering.


Through artists creating work that exists outside the gallery white cube space, the conceptual element takes on the immateriality, continuing the aesthetics of dematerialization with new urgency, agency and creative energy.


When fly-postering takes place, as a public/audience we have already given meaning to the work by indicating that it is indeed art, and neither that act, nor art itself, is as simple as it appears. When one fly posters, it is ephemeral in nature. You post the flyer; it gets taken down, defaced, or just dissolves in the rain and wind. That’s all it needs to do. Here today, gone tomorrow. You remain.


The act in which is taken, both as audience and artist, is just as important as the poster itself. The poster is a mere object that transcends a meaning or idea but even in the act of destroying the evidence that a somewhat deviant act was taken upon the space, it is also recreating itself. A reinvention.


The problem arises when it isn’t as much a formal aspect as it is conceptual. Every piece of art assumes an audience, a community in which shares its discourse and social praxis.

Its form is its meaning and its meaning is comprised of relation to relations.




The art of fly postering works in arenas of areas. One arena is the community of artists who collectively or through individual effort define what is a historical moment concretely in the practice of their activity.


We can think back to 1975 for an example of this. A splinter group from the New York Art&Language (ALNY), members consisting of Michael Corris, Preston Heller and Andrew Menard, slipped out onto the streets of SoHo, NY, in the middle of night. They put glue into gallery locks and fly-postered posters denouncing the corruption of the current state of the gallery public and its artworld. People sprawled out over the streets of SoHo early afternoon, not knowing what to do other than be forced to come to terms with the art and its social implications.


This piece of art not only revealed social and political implications but also helped derive the attention from the space within the gallery to the architecture and public space outside the gallery as a setting for intervention and indeed a platform for art. A fleeting moment that had revolutionary insinuation that changed the course of art history. 


The posters that were pasted on the walls of galleries where conceptual in materiality. They were also materially conceptual in what they were deploring. The words on the poster and the action in itself, indicated that Corris, Heller and Menard were not simply interested in the form and shaping of an object  or just joking around-but rather in different handlings of materiality – the process; and the reaction with political capability. Creating a physical yet conceptual connection between the materials and the surrounding environment, something by which 34 years later could be our answer to “re-inventing” the artworld into something that we could really care and be involved in.


The second arena is the mass cultural context in which the first arena is embedded. It is a process by which an institution creates the reality of its citizens.  Artists have to fight for there meaning of their work in reflection of increased power structures of the ever expanding institutionalised and bureaucratisation lead up to the commodification of art.  This idea is referenced momentarily by Eduardo Costa, Raul Escari and Roberto Jacoby in A Media Art (Manifesto), were they discuss how people conceive art via the news media.


Unlike other forms of New Media Art, Fly-Postering relies upon a passer-by audience and a space/architecture for its canvas. There are no media outlets since the action in itself can be classed as illegal.  It works purely on speculation, spectatorship and word of mouth. No reviews or institutional interference with the understanding of ones work can happen – unless provoked by the artist.


Conceptually astute, postering, if relevant for the art, could be the future for artists who want to maintain an artistic integrity, as it offers a place for risk and political engagement.  




Jacob Lillemose, argos festival, October 16, 2005

Similar idea discussed by Joseph Kosuth.

Confirmed by Michael Corris via an email interview on 26/4/08

It’s Important to note at this point that public space is commodified so there is an institution interference but usually postering work is against the spectacle.


Sarah Smizz is an artist based in Sheffield working in the UK & NYC. Her practice is currently involved with the idea of the social value as architecture as a spectacle, and how people re-create their own space. She is specializing in interventionist art and social art practices. She is founder of StreetForm Organisation and C.A.a.D [Contemporary Art as Dialogue]. 



Conceptual Art: A Critical Anthology; edited by alexander alberro and blake stimson.

Jacob Lillemose, argos festival, October 16, 2005

E-mail Interview transcripts with Michael Corris 

Guy Debord – Society of the Spectacle

Published by smizz

I've had this blog since I was 17. I use it process thinking & work. It's changed with how my life has changed. Artist → Re-evaluating life→ Rad Oncology graduate + public health worker→ @lab4living PhD-er → Want 2 make a positive difference → Rule-Breaker → LIVE DRAWZ! → councillor! → Loves cities → rides fixie → adventures → wanna be ramen master → <3 Tokyo + NYC

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