“What if we, ordinary people, could decide what kinds of messages we see on a bus stop, for a change”. This was the idea of Elissa Eriksson, art education student who became tired of the overload of commercial messages in public space. Last December, she started a Facebook campaign, called “Haluan nähdä muutakin/ I want to see something else” to free some space from bus stop advertisements.
Elissa describes how her idea was born, last November: “I was waiting for a tram, thinking about my master’s thesis, which discusses the possibilities of ordinary people to participate legally in shaping their urban environment. Watching the advertisements at the tram stop, it occurred to me that you could comment on them from within the structures. I thought that I could possibly gather a group of friends to rent one tram stop.”http://visualcage.ru
It turned out that one has to rent at least 21 bus / tram stops in order to make an outdoor advertising campaign, which costs almost 6000 euros. This put the artist’s plans on hold for a while. However, she realised that at the age of social media, her idea could still be made possible. From the beginning of December, the word spread like fire through a Facebook page. Within 1.5 months, the page reached almost 6000 fans. Elissa invited people to think, what else they would like to see instead of ads, and support the idea with 3 euros, to cover the rents.
Of course, not all of the 6000 were willing to pay, but 1458 people did. In two weeks, the total sum of 5896.62 euros was put together. The average contribution was 4.20€ per person.
On her Facebook page, Elissa has been reporting frequently about the proceeding of her project, and got enormous amounts of positive feedback. Elissa tells that even the people at JCDecaux, the company behind outdoor advertising, were very excited about the idea and saw it as a possibility to refresh their concept, not as critique.
Yesterday evening, people gathered at the centre of Helsinki to drink hot chocolate and celebrate the opening of the campaign that had become a success in the media even before it really started. For a week, 21 bus and tram stops in the centre of Helsinki will now display the campaign posters, bearing 1311 messages from the participants.
And what did people want to see? A lot of happy and good things: urban art, love, caring for other people, something inspiring, smiles, silence, or simply nothing. “The messages show that people still believe in good things”, Elissa said at her opening speech, thanking “all the ordinary people” who made this possible.