Odd billboard on Post and 52

Digital prints, 54 frames, 5x7” 

In an alternative way to engage a community and open a space for questions, I advertised a billboard in March 2019 in New Palestine, IN. Odd billboard on Post and 52 contained three sentences written in white over a black background. The main sentence is a quoted caption taken from an archival image found in the museum of New Palestine, Indiana, which says: “Notice on the top picture the name of the town was once Palestine.” Below that, a translation in Arabic, and the third line says: “I (heart symbol) New Palestine, OH.” this third sentence functioned as a signature to show love to Ohio from Indiana and abstract the third Palestine, while offering up this aesthetic advertisement, speculation and communication within the view of another New Palestine in Indiana. 

In an article written by a local journalist in Indiana after an interview I had over the phone with someone from the town, I was able to allay the local concern and confusion regarding the public intervention. The community's very real feedback and debates on the social networking service Nextdoor was shared with me by one of its members and sparked the curiosity of the local journalist. The community members were so roused by the billboard they found me online and shared all of their comments on the private thread, as only people with local zip codes are allowed access to view and post within the Nextdoor website. These comments show how the simple presence of a foreign language and a little bit of geopolitical confusion can spark a wide array of so many meanings that reflect a rural community’s knowledge, politics and stereotypes. The repeated photograph of the billboard above was taken by an anonymous local person.

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