From Berlin to Paris and further: In the last few months Europeans have been witnessing a street artist’s commentary on advertising and more. Street artist Vermibus’s campaign titled “Dissolving Europe” is one where the artist has used their collection of 90 keys that can open ad displays in order to steal the advertisements and reform them. Using the inter-rail to get around, the artist has taken the ads to a workshop and used a pallet of solvents to distort the images. Once the artwork is complete, the ads are returned to displays around the cities.
The images are psychedelic terrors. Where a beautiful woman once advertised a Rolex or an expensive pullover, there now resides an image that is straight from your nightmares. Faces melting, exploding appendages and dripping body parts. The shadows of these images battle each other in a counterintuitive corruption.
I tried to reach out to Vermibus, but no luck. The images seem to be a commentary on beauty and the farce of the advertising industry. In Paris, Berlin and truly all around the world, we establish the foundations of what is considered beauty in tight glass displays. Vermibus seems to be tapping into this mentality and making it so the display is no longer a nameless being that looks good in a pair of pants, but the focus is now shifted to the beautiful but disturbing deformity of the human appearance.
Vermibus’ intentions may have been to comment on advertising solely, but there is much more there for the viewer. I am reminded of every psychedelic experience I’ve ever had. I am reminded of dripping clouds, shape-shifting hills, imploding facial expressions and the inversion of my environment around me. Cohesion is in the eye of the beholder.
In a more political sense, the artwork reminds one of the uses of acids just like Vermibus’ that have been utilized for doing what he did but to real people. Acid attacks are a strange trend worldwide, injuring or killing 1,500 people around the world each year, and the victims are disproportionately women. Using acid as a weapon is a much more sinister thing to do to people than to advertisements, but acid attacks have the same intention as Vermibus’ art; to destroy perceived beauty.
These ideas all have one thing in common: The idea of placing importance on appearance. The girl or guy in the advertisement is meant to entice you into looking toward the ad. Once you’ve got your eyes on the ad, you’ve got your eyes on the product. Once you’ve got your eyes on anything in a psychedelic experience, the reality of that image changes into a completely different interpretation. And finally, for those of us that value our appearance to any significant degree, the results of an acid attack could change the way we see ourselves and certainly the way the world sees us.
The human mind is automatically repellant of deformity. That’s the reason some people, like myself, find clowns to be terrifying. The mind wants symmetry and overall familiarity. Vermibus’ “Dissolving Europe” challenges these concepts, and it challenges the societal constructs of beauty. Beauty is in the hands of the supporters.
The fashion and advertising industries are in our hands. If we don’t like how the industries portray men and women, then we can stop supporting the ones that portray them in unappealing ways. American Apparel famously presented mannequins with pubic hair at the beginning of 2014, and other companies have presented mannequins that have a body shape that more realistically depicts what average people look like. News flash: A lot of people have pubic hair, and most people weigh more than 110 lbs. Not to say that there’s anything wrong with those that are pubeless and rail thin. We get to decide what’s accepted as attainable or desired. If you don’t like the table, then you have to flip it over.