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For Freedoms
Make America Great Again with Spider Martin – Pearl, Mississippiphotography via Wyatt Gallery, For Freedoms

An artist group is putting up political billboards all over America

It’s the largest public art campaign in US history

Martin McDonagh’s Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri is a complex, provocative film about redemption, town politics, and a mother’s relentless search for an answer to her daughter’s brutal death. Since its release, the billboards in the film – used by Frances McDormand to bluntly demand something be done for her murdered child – have been recreated in real life political activism. Justice4Grenfell activists drove billboards across London to keep victims of the tower block fire in the public eye. 

Now, For Freedoms, a political art organisation, plans to erect thousands of billboards and signs across the United States with a political message. Titled the 50 State Initiative, the $1.5 million project is the largest public art campaign in American history. As ArtForum reports, over 175 artists and 200 partners are involved: its founders Hank Willis Thomas and Eric Gottesman, and artists including Sam Durant, Marilyn Minter, and Tania Bruguera.

“We want our billboards to be catalysts for people to think differently, to engage with ideas with compassion and nuance,” Thomas says in a promotional visual.

The billboards will each have a different image and message: Bruguera’s will be a collaboration with the Rhode Island School of Design and will encourage women to vote, while Trevor Paglen’s will centre on the ethics of data collection and privacy. 

52 Kickstarter campaigns have been set up, with the goal of $3,000 for each state, as well as Washington D.C and Puerto Rico. Each billboard will coincide with a local exhibition and group meetings to encourage participation in politics and the upcoming election. 

Artist Emma Nuzzo says: “Together we will advocate for artists to express their unique vision of what freedom means.”

Find out more info on the For Freedoms project here.