Early Friday morning I left my house with a sticker with the one intention of placing a sticker on the poster of street artist Shepard Fairey‘s “The Duality of Humanity” which has been stuck up all around this country, from Denver to San Francisco and now, not far from my house in Washington, DC.
It was literally a tongue in cheek action because the sticker was temporary and message was humorous: I <3 Vandalism. I had obtained the sticker from a random street art book a friend gave me for my birthday. The reason behind doing this was two-fold. First is that some forms of street art is vandalism. The other, more important issue, is that Fairey’s street art is merely stylish propaganda, which deserves to be defaced over time, like all street art.
It’s really the Barack Obama poster that gets to me. In my opinion, there is nothing revolutionary about Barack Obama’s character. Nothing. He stands for the status quo. It might be progress that he might becomes president. But when placed in the context of revolutionary ideals and presidential aspirations, this street art becomes explicit Democratic party propaganda and thereby subverts his entire message.
Moreover, its gimmicky— have an acclaimed street artist come to town, put up some large prints that depict ironic pseudo-revolutionary memes on derelict property, have a gallery opening to sell it to rich folk who keep the duality alive, and put up Barack Obama posters on the side. I get it and it sells well. Yet political art should have a larger message that is defiant of the status quo. To embrace the partisan, lesser of the two evilism, might be a Duality of Humanity, but its politically feeble-minded and artistically weak, but it sure is nice propaganda.
A Thank You Note to Muntazer al-Zaidi outside Busboys & Poets
|| 12/15/2008 || 3:17 pm || 2 Comments Rendered || ||
Yesterday President George W. Bush was nearly beaned by two shoes thrown at him by Iraqi journalist Muntazer al-Zaidi (his first name is also sometimes spelled Montaser, Muntada, Muntather, or Muthathi). Before throwing his second shoe at the president who oversaw the invasion of his country and subsequent deaths of over million Iraqis, he said “This is from the widows, the orphans and those who were killed in Iraq.” In case you missed it, here’s the video:
On a very cold morning in February of 2007 I coordinated the amplified soundsystem at Code Pink‘s “Walk In Their Shoes” press conference on the National Mall. The centerpiece of the press conference was the unveiling of The Empty Shoes of War by Alison Flensburg (right). It’s a large plexiglass box filled with donated shoes from Americans from all over the country. On each shoe contains the name of an Iraqi civilian who has been killed by George W. Bush’s illegal war & occupation of Iraq.
Not soon after the Walk In Their Shoes press conference, the memorial was placed on display outside of Busboys & Poets, an independent bookstore & restaurant located on the corner of V & 14th street in Northwest, Washington, DC (about 5 blocks from my house). The placement of the memorial is significant because the owner of Busboys & Poets, Andy Shallal, is an Iraqi-American from Baghdad and has been against the war before it started.
Last night I was reminded of the shoes in the memorial and conceived the idea of putting up a small guerrilla thank you note as a way to publicly thank al-Zaidi for doing something millions of people around the world would love to do if they were given the opportunity.
#UPDATE# – 15/15/08 – 4pm
After the photos below I’ve added the text of a press release related to a demonstration taking place at the White House on Wednesday.
Below are some of the photos I took before putting up the note: