London urban poetry artist Robert Montgomery works with text in a post-Situationist tradition. Since 2005 he has carried out his WORDS IN THE CITY AT NIGHT project, inspired by the Situationist concept of detournement, where he hijacks advertising space in the city, often illegally. He covers illuminated advertising billboards with austere black posters with white letters: his texts part poetry, part an enquiry into our collective unconscious, and an attempt to describe in public space ‘what it feels like to live now’. His texts and poems connect with the traditions of conceptual art, concrete poetry, Situationism, and contemporary artists like Jenny Holzer, but have their own resonant melancholic voice.
Montgomery has a 1st Class honours degree in painting and an MFA from Edinburgh College of Art. In 1994 he initiated the Aerial Project, a landmark artist-initiated project funded by the Scottish Arts Council opening the streets of Edinburgh to contemporary artists. From 1995 to 1997 he was Artist-in-Residence at the Museum of Fine Arts Houston, and his work is now in the museum’s permanent collection.
Of all the post-Marxists, post-structuralist theorists, post-modernist thinkers and art history essayists I read at University I thought Guy Debord was the most important. And that’s because he is fundamentally interested in what Capitalism does to us on the inside. He also very early on predicts what I was just speaking about – that in their hyper phase Capitalism and the Media will coalesce to make increasingly suave and seductive images of artificial beauty which will alienate us from real life, fill us with impossible desire, and break our hearts.