David Wojnarowicz, “True Myth (Domino Sugar)” (1983) (© Estate of David Wojnarowicz, courtesy the Estate of David Wojnarowicz & P·P·O·W, New York)

Now on view at Poster House, Masked Vigilantes on Silent Motorbikes traces how advertising posters have become a staple of public discourse, providing artists with a rich array of material to build upon, tear down, and subvert meaning. Throughout this show, posters are vehicles for modern and contemporary artists to critique concepts of beauty standards, capitalism, and who owns the public space.

Curated by RJ Rushmore of Art in Ad Places, a 2017–2021 campaign that replaced outdoor advertising in payphones with art, Masked Vigilantes includes work from David Wojnarowicz, Swoon, KAWS, Jordan Seiler, Jacques Villeglé, and many others who incorporate posters into their work in a unique way. Aiming to subvert the original messaging, they play with, crop, and re-contextualize advertising elements, perhaps attempting to reappropriate a public platform to which private entities have long laid claim. As much as the majority of the artists featured are critical of the functionality of ads, many are also enamored by the artistry and design that goes into creating a good poster, and the connection viewers have with design in everyday life.

For Poster House, this exhibition functions as a meta-observation of the museum’s primary subject matter. In its first three years of programming, it focused on posters as examples of design history and social artifact; but here, the museum hopes to consider how posters have infiltrated society and what meanings and functions they currently embrace. The exhibition aims to erase the line between commercial and fine art, showing once again that context often determines how we view artistic skill.

Masked Vigilantes on Silent Motorbikes will be on view through February 12, 2023, in Poster House’s main gallery.

To learn more, visit posterhouse.org.