Talk about attention-grabbing.
While walking to work in Sydney, Australia, I came across a bus stop advertisement for swimwear that had been plastered with a sticker.
“Let’s pretend it’s an ad for swimwear!” the sticker declared, with the small byline underneath: “Persistently Plastic.”
It reminded me of About-Face’s similar actions, so I tracked down West (a.k.a. Persistently Plastic or Amanda West), the young female artist responsible for the action, to find out more.
Tell us about yourself.
“My name is West (A.K.A. Amanda West). I’m a female painter and screenprinter living in Sydney. Last year I was a co-founder of Monstrosity Gallery, a small artist-run initiative in Woolloomooloo which runs screenprinting and photography classes and supports young and emerging artists.
My work is often feminist in nature (especially my paint on faux fur works) but I also draw from pop culture, mischief, and people-watching to get inspired. At the moment I’m doing a lot of t-shirt design, and three of these designs have loose feminist themes: ‘Meat is my favourite animal,’ ‘Closet Attention Seeker’ and ‘Serving Suggestion.’ I have a casual electronica side project with Phil Soliman called Schmenguin and I sometimes make films on my old iPhone 3GS, like ‘Let’s Pretend it’s an Ad for Swimwear.’”
What inspired you to put “Let’s Pretend it’s an Ad for Swimwear” stickers on posters?
“In 2009, everywhere the bus took me on my way to work, I’d see these horrible billboard images of skinny bikini-clad girls posed with their legs wide open, and I thought, ‘If I had a young daughter or sister, I’d apologize for how sick advertising has become, when you’re being sold an insecurity, not the actual product. Most of my life I could hardly tell the difference!”
What effect were you hoping this would have on people who saw it?
“I think many people see these ads and think, ‘Oh yeah, we know sex sells, but so what?‘ But I wanted to get at least a few people to think to themselves, ‘Hey, if they are not selling swimwear, then what are they selling me? Am I feeling good about myself after seeing this?’ That’s why I put the stickers up in peak hour in the city center.”
If people claim it’s about “sex sells”, they’re not entirely correct. The judges said that about Diana Zalewski on ANTM, and that was clearly not what they were after. It’s “unattainable image sells”. Is that the most effective way to sell clothes? I doubt it.