For the month of April, a giant black and white high-contrast photo of a crying baby with the phrase “KINGSTON ISN’T BORING ANYMORE” written underneath in red all-caps font commanded the Alfred and Princess Streets intersection and caught the attention of many curious Kingstonians.
The billboard, which went up late March, is both an advertisement and public art installation by FOR art collective. “In the new age of social media, it works on both levels,”stated artist Francisco Corbett. Titled “FOR DISPLAY PURPOSES ONLY,” the project is located at 625 Princess Street above Rahim’s Cuisine.
“FOR DISPLAY PURPOSES ONLY” was originally the idea of Corbett, who leads FOR art collective. Corbett said that the creation came from a feeling that “my life was boring. At the time, I was kinda stuck in a rut, and I didn’t really know where to go, and I wanted to do a lot of things, make a lot of art and show it to people.”
The billboard has a picture of a screaming baby because Corbett wanted “have a photo that emulates me just screaming at the top of my lungs – sometimes maybe childishly.”
“FOR DISPLAY PURPOSES ONLY” was designed in partnership with artist and recent Queen’s grad Eric Chen. Chen cited American neo-conceptual artist Jenny Holzer as an inspiration for his work and said that “it was funny to see people’s mixed reactions.”
Corbett also expressed positive feelings about the reception of the project.
“To finally get a response from people who aren’t involved, it’s really cool and it’s everything I wanted, and I just want more of it now,” said Corbett, adding that he enjoyed seeing the billboard on social media, and liked “reading people bickering in the comment sections about what it meant, saying this is bad art, yeah, fuck yeah it is.” Chen said that the meaning of the piece “is whatever people interpret it as”
This is their second venture into public signage. After previously posting the same message with a picture of an exploding car on a smaller electronic billboard at 275 Ontario street, Chen said that the Alfred and Princess billboard was an attempt to “do it bigger.”
“We just want to make Kingston fun,” Corbett said. “For forever.”