SIGNS O' THE TIMES: THE I70 SIGN SHOW
Deep in the Missouri Midwest, above the 250-mile stretch of Interstate 70 that connects St. Louis with Kansas City, a billboard read: 'Keep Abortion Legal'.
Artist Aleksandra Mir’s stark political message jostled for attention with adverts for casinos and burger joints. Although it’s not unusual to see political statements along this stretch of the rural highway, seeing a pro-choice message is virtually unheard of. Missouri has some of the tightest abortion laws in the US, and is currently seeking to enact even stricter requirements. Billboard companies almost always refuse to display pro-choice messages for political and religious reasons – despite the fact that pro-life statements, funded by Christian and right-wing groups, are commonplace.
Devised by Aleksandra Mir back in 2005, the ‘Keep Abortion Legal’ design was intended as an antidote to the graphic and aggressive banners of anti-abortion protesters she saw in NYC. Outraged by their vocal protests and unnecessarily gory posters, Mir felt the pro-choice movement needed an effective visual counterpoint. The artist initially imagined she had devised a relatively innocuous design: the message, which after all advocates the continuation of a (currently) legal procedure, is written in neutral Helvetica font with baby blue and baby pink colouring. Nevertheless, the artwork has attracted controversy and outrage, being rejected by fashion labels and banned from a museum show even before the team at The i70 Sign Show chose to arrange for its appearance on a 21 x 60 foot billboard...