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Think twice

The Last Billboard in Pittsburgh, PA.

The Last Billboard in Pittsburgh, PA.


Edith A. Miller Striped Shirt.






Dueling double takes: one expressed in burly wood letters, perched above a waffle joint in Pittsburgh, PA; the other, instigated by kid scratch on cotton, stretched across a chest. Both semiotically subversive, inversive.

For four years, artist Jon Rubin has curated The Last Billboard, a rotating signage of sentiments overlooking the intersection of Highland and Baum in the East Liberty neighborhood, a busy spot seen by some 10,000 people and cars per day. Rubin describes the installation as “a publishing system for thoughts and ideas from around the world all presented in the sky…” The monthly words are those of artists, neighbors, writers and children: Maude Liotta, 11, sent her thoughts on society from Seattle, “Questions for my new blog: Who invented tape, how were feelings discovered, when did ‘skinny’ become fashionable.” Adam Frelin created the current Crier, based on his travels through Brazil: in a rural village, a loudspeaker announced the start of a funeral, inviting all who knew the deceased to pay their respects. The announcement seemed logical to Frelin, so logical he has proposed a similar system stateside: a town crier of sorts, making proclamations in public places who also symbolizes the public act of crying in joy or sorrow. Through The Last Billboard, Frelin is testing out his crier concept, a fresh approach to temporary installation as social experiment, a double take that may become a permanent part of society.

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