Battlefield of ideas
Greg Bunbury’s Black Outdoor Art project plays on our expectations of media space and expression. By Anoushka Khandwala [EXTRACT]
In 2014, graphic designer Greg Bunbury posted a graphic to Instagram featuring the words ‘I can’t breathe’ repeated eleven times. The piece was made in homage to Eric Garner, an African American man who had been killed in New York at the hands of NYPD officers on 17 July that year. There was little response in the social media dialect of likes and comments. However, it planted a seed in Bunbury’s mind, and as he produced more work about his social and political stances, it attracted people who shared those values.
This graphic surfaced again in 2020, in the wake of George Floyd’s killing in Minneapolis, when a friend of Bunbury’s from the agency Brotherhood Media asked if they could use the image on their billboards, to stand in solidarity with the Black community. Bunbury initially refused, wary of the ‘virtue-signalling’ that was rampant at the time, but after a long conversation, both friends felt reconciled to each other’s perspectives. Bunbury went home and designed a new poster connecting Garner’s last words to those of George Floyd, which went up on billboards across London. The response was overwhelming and helped Bunbury conceive of a wider initiative, Black Outdoor Art …
Photographs by Greg Bunbury and @London_streetshots. Eye 103 cover photo by Jahnavi Innis.
Anoushka Khandwala, designer, writer, educator, London
Read the full version in Eye no. 103 vol. 26, 2022
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