“Thirty percent of the content of mass media is advertisements, i.e. corporate art, pixilated, transmitted and sprayed over the world. Ads are on our orange peels, protruding from the seams of our underwear and on our doorknobs and windshields. They link the articles I read and the songs I
hear and programs I do not watch. I try to prevent ads from entering my
eyes, ears and pores, alienating me from my fears, desires and culture. I cut labels out. I lobby to prevent the telephone company from selling my phone number to businesses. I refuse to give salespeople my address when I make purchases and I throw my junk mail in the recycling bin so it never enters my house.”--Anne Bray
Artist, social evangelist, marauding barbarian horde--Anne Bray has been delighting, enlightening, and terrorizing Los Angeles for over 15 years. Bray has co-opted gas stations, shopping malls, movie theaters, billboards, and department stores--transforming them into showcases for art. “In my artwork, I place intimate images into public arenas, or I manipulate public, often commercial, language into personal messages.” In these messages, wheelchairs, bridal veils, and body parts intermingle with public media display to insinuate consciousness into mainstream information channels.
Anne Bray is from the East Coast, by way of Geneva, Switzerland. Says Bray, “I grew up in a large family and was trained to do social service in a Catholic setting. Between 1978 and 1982, I lived in a commune, believed in collective processes, socialized with progressives and taught large classes. Also during that period I regularly collaborated with other artists, city officials and community members to present public art events in Boston. My media aversion had crystallized by that time from contrasting the detestable sound of TV, which had permeated my childhood home, with the stimulation of 8 years living away from television in college and Europe. My political disagreements with the box, particularly mainstream news, were sharpened by work with my mentors, Aldo Tambellini and Antonio Muntadas, at Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Center for Advanced Visual Studies.
“In 1982, I arrived in socially disconnected Los Angeles where, one's best friend is generally 15 to 60 minutes away, depending on the time of day and therefore the traffic, and where intimacy is experienced most frequently on the telephone or more recently on-line.”
One of the most respected voices in new media art and social awareness, Bray has conceived and produced public art projects and mixed-media installations worldwide, in venues that include: Highways Performance Space, the NY Avant-Garde Festival, Otis Art Gallery, Cité des Arts et Nouvelles Technologies de Montreal, the Civitella Ranieri Center in Umbria, Italy, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and the middle of Times Square, NYC.
But Bray’s vision exceeds even her artistic reach. She has also become a guide and instructor to a new generation of artists, teaching new genre arts at Claremont Graduate University and public art at USC. “Through teaching public and media arts, I let young people know these opportunities exist. Public art, independent video festivals and education are all about speaking one's mind in the face of very large commercial structures and providing the space for others to do likewise, or at least begin strategizing to do the same. With 3,000 ads in our face per day, with only 9% of the TV directors being women and with more extra-terrestrials on TV than Asians, Latinos and Native Americans combined, there is much missing in our public pictures and many false mirrors presented to us.”
Currently, Bray serves as Founding Director of
L.A. Freewaves, a growing democracy of 65 arts organizations, 68 schools, 74 libraries, 32 cable stations, 35 programmers and over 2000 videomakers. The coalition produces a major festival every 2 years, an extensive follow-up tour, new media workshops and a web site. LA Freewaves has shown experimental video and new-media works by over 2,000 artists, presenting attitudes, stories, facts, aesthetics and angles unseen in mass media.
The tireless Bray shows no signs of slowing down. In fact, if anything, her intensity seems to be increasing. She has more exhibitions in the works, and this year’s incarnation of
L.A. Freewaves looks to be her largest festival yet. For Bray the future can be bright, if we only have the courage to see it. “Artists are producing new images, sounds and texts to offer us new understandings of the past and future, to assist us across our own mental borders. During this era of the privatization of culture, I advocate vigilant protection of access to free-speech avenues and venues for the public. This technology could be the antidote to the centralization of the entertainment industry into a handful of mega-corporations. Art could provide spiritual strength, physical presence, political voice, perceptual change, information exchange, community truths and financial force---the power of consciousness.”
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For more information or to interview Anne Bray please contact Lynn Hasty at Green Galactic at 323-466-5141 or or