The Prank as Art

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Art of the Hoax – Joey Skaggs on PRI

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Filed under: Creative Activism, Definitions, Media Literacy, The Prank as Art, What Makes a Good Prank?, Why Do a Prank?

Jester_waitscmMarch 30, 2014: Pranks and Hoaxes, produced by Wisconsin Public Radio and distributed by Public Radio International, presents an interview with Joey Skaggs called Art of the Hoax – Joey Skaggs.

Listen here

Announcing RE/Search Pubs “Pranks 2″ eBook

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Filed under: The History of Pranks, The Prank as Art

From V. Vale of RE/Search Pubs:

The iconic, game changing Pranks 2 book, published by RE/Search, is now available for epub (ipad), Kindle Fire, and online “cloud” reading. Somewhat still in BETA, the cost is $9.99.


To purchase, click on the link or the image and then toggle the menu navicon in the upper left corner.

For more information:

  • PRANKS 2, on RE/Search Pubs website
  • PRANKS 2: Reviews, various publications
  • RE/Search: Pranks 2, Laughing Squid
  • The Golden Age of the Cockroach

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    Filed under: The History of Pranks, The Prank as Art

    Spoiler alert! According to author John Reed, Joey Skaggs’ Metamorphosis: Cockroach Vitamin Pill hoax headlines the Golden Age…

    The Golden Age of the Cockroach
    by John Reed
    February 6, 2013

    Illustration by Michele Witchipoo

    Illustration by Michele Witchipoo

    Every era in art has a new favored subject. The Etruscans looked to Hercules; painters of the Renaissance reenvisioned the Bible; the American Ashcan School rendered sensitive tableaus of poor urban life; and the later half of the 20th century, dominated by the PoMo-ism of downtown NYC, crowned a new king, the cockroach, which was not only an available resource, but a stand-in for the artist—a heroic outcast, thriving in the ruins of civilization.

    The oeuvre of the cockroach is best understood as a series of distinct ages that, in turn, comprise a whole. During the Reformation, the cockroach was reconsidered; the Enlightenment percieved the cockroach as potentially “divine”; the Golden Age saw the pinnacle of the discipline; the Silver Age was consumed by celebrity; the Bronze Age refigured the subject as metaphor and victim; the Age of Decline represented the subject in absentia and/or in parts. As far as I can tell, no one has completed, or even attempted, to survey the cockroach’s place in the art world, so consider this seven-part piece that examines an artistic era that scuttled by so quickly, hardly anyone even noticed it. (more…)

    Alison Klayman Film About Ai Weiwei Premieres

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    Filed under: Creative Activism, Political Challenges, The Prank as Art

    For Ai Weiwei, Politics And Arts Always Mix
    by NPR Staff
    July 25, 2012

    Listen to this Story on All Things Considered [7 min 49 sec]

    Last week, a Chinese court rejected artist Ai Weiwei’s lawsuit against the tax bureau that had imposed a massive fine on his company.

    Ai was fined more than $2 million after being detained for three months last year.

    This marks yet another political struggle for Ai, who is famous abroad for his art and has emerged as a leading Chinese dissident, a voice for individual freedom. A year after being released, Ai is still monitored heavily by officials, although he uses his Twitter feed to continue criticizing China’s government.

    Filmmaker Alison Klayman was an intern on NPR’s All Things Considered before she left for China, where she wound up chronicling Ai on video. The result is a documentary — her first film — called Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry, part of which chronicles Ai’s crusade to seek justice for an alleged police beating.

    Movie trailer:


    The Artiness of Naughtiness Radio Show

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    Filed under: Sociology and Psychology of Pranks, The History of Pranks, The Prank as Art

    The Artiness of Naughtiness
    BBC Radio
    April 1, 2011

    Toby Amies discovers how tricksters have turned the poking of fun into an art form.

    Produced by Rob Alexander and hosted by Toby Amies, this 30:00 radio show is now available here for listening.

    There are pranksters who have been determined to show us our folly all year round and most have philosophical, political and artistic reason to do so… Toby investigates this reasoning behind pranking – discovering why people will risk consequences as serious as prison to make a point or get a laugh. Sometime the motivation behind a prank is not always only a good laugh at someone else’s expense. It can be a very serious business.

    Fool School: The Art of the Perfect Prank

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    Filed under: Pranksters, The History of Pranks, The Prank as Art, What Makes a Good Prank?

    Update, April 3, 2011: You can now listen to this 30:00 radio show here.

    The Artiness of Naughtiness, hosted by Toby Amies, aired on BBC Radio 4 on Friday, April 1, 2011. Until April 7, 2011, you can listen to it here.

    The art of the perfect prank
    by Toby Amies
    BBC News Magazine
    30 March 2011

    As April Fools jokers hatch their plans, what’s the secret to a perfect prank, asks broadcaster Toby Amies. And how far do the very best tricksters go in preparing their practical jokes?

    This article is not a hoax. I promise you. It’s a serious work about the practical joke.

    How far would you go to pull off a prank? The dole queue? In 1987, a young British broadcaster called Chris Morris let off helium into the BBC Bristol studio, causing the newsreader’s stories to reach a higher and higher pitch. Chris lost his job. And started his career in satire.

    Would you risk prison? Pranks are often protests, against unfairness or authority or reality. And protest is increasingly risky in the 21st Century.

    As the film director Billy Wilder said: “If you are going to tell people the truth, be funny or they will kill you.”

    Whether personal or public, the prank has a point to make, but if you’re planning on tricking someone, it’s best to ensure everyone gets the joke. (more…)

    The Artiness of Naughtiness

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    Filed under: Sociology and Psychology of Pranks, The Prank as Art

    Update, April 3, 2011: You can now listen to this 30:00 radio show here on Joey Skaggs’ website.

    This radio show, produced by Rob Alexander, hosted by Toby Amies and featuring Joey Skaggs, among others, aired on BBC Radio Friday, April 1 at 11:30 a.m. UK time. You can listen to it on the BBC Radio site until April 7, 2011.

    The Artiness of Naughtiness
    Friday 1 April, 2011 at 11:30am on BBC Radio 4

    Toby Amies discovers how tricksters have turned the poking of fun into an art form.

    What have Jonathon Swift, Orson Welles, Marcel Duchamp, Yoko Ono, Malcolm Mclaren, Jeremy Beadle, and Sacha Baron Cohen got in common? Toby Amies discovers how tricksters and pranksters have turned the poking of fun into an art form.

    Pranking is such a part of society, we’ve got a specially sanctioned day of misrule in the calendar. Mark Twain described the 1st of April as “the day we remember what we are the other 364 days of the year”. But for some people April Fool’s day is just not enough; generally opposed to the status quo, they are determined to alter our relationship with reality by forcing us to question its veracity.

    There are pranksters who have been determined to show us our folly all year round and most have philosophical, political and artistic reason to do so.

    Toby investigates this reasoning behind pranking – discovering why people will risk consequences as serious as prison to make a point or get a laugh. Sometime the motivation behind a prank is not always only a good laugh at someone else’s expense. It can be a very serious business.

    Toby draws a wobbly line from the court jester to the hoaxes of Swift and Welles to Yves Klein to the playful Marxism[!] of Debord and the Situationsists, through to the commercial modern pranking industry and the work of Sacha Baron Cohen, Improv Everywhere, Jeremy Beadle and America’s king of the prank, Joey Skaggs.

    A Pier Production for BBC Radio 4

    Happy Thanksgiving from The Art of the Prank

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    Filed under: Culture Jamming and Reality Hacking, The Prank as Art

    thanks Don

    Tobias Wong, RIP

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    Filed under: Creative Activism, Pranksters, The Prank as Art

    Tobias Wong, Witty Designer and Conceptual Artist, Dies at 35
    by William Grimes
    June 2, 2010

    Tobias Wong, a designer whose outrageous sendups of luxury goods and witty expropriation of work by other designers blurred the line between conceptual art and design, died on Sunday at his home in Manhattan. He was 35.

    The office of the chief medical examiner in Manhattan ruled the death a suicide.

    Mr. Wong first came to the attention of the design press in 2001 when he turned a Philippe Starck Bubble Club chair into a lamp, softly glowing from within. Adding spice to the stunt, “This Is a Lamp” was shown the night before the actual Starck chair was presented to the public for the first time.

    A provocateur by nature, Mr. Wong operated at the fringes of the traditional design world, creating objects like a stack of 100 $1 bills, bound in peelable glue like a notepad; a gold-plated McDonalds coffee stirrer (a riff on the company’s plastic version that was apparently popular among drug users before being withdrawn); and an engagement ring with the diamond mounted upside down, so that the wearer could use it to scratch graffiti.

    “As time went on his work became more and more ironic, sarcastic and pointed,” said Paola Antonelli, senior curator in the Museum of Modern Art’s Department of Architecture and Design. “He had an enfant terrible style of design that was very fresh in New York. Today you see all sorts of people doing conceptual design, but he was one of the first.” (more…)

    Happy April Fools’ Day!

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    Filed under: Satire, The Prank as Art

    The Art of The Prank Is Now On Facebook

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    Filed under: The Prank as Art

    facebookReaders can now follow The Art of the Prank blog on Facebook. Comments are welcome there.

    Jumping the Snark

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    Filed under: Pranksters, The Future of Pranks, The Prank as Art

    Jumping the Snark
    by Dave Gilson
    Mother Jones
    November/December 2009

    In an age of Yes Men, flash mobs, birthers, and fake pundits, is the prank dead?

    Snark200What’s a good prank worth? How about $2 billion? That’s how much Dow Chemical’s stock value dipped in just 23 minutes on the morning of December 3, 2004, after its spokesman went on the BBC to announce that the company would make amends for the 1984 Bhopal toxic-gas disaster “simply because it’s the right thing to do.” (Dow had acquired Union Carbide, the original owner of the Bhopal chemical plant, in 1999.) Within the hour, the flack was exposed as one of the Yes Men, a duo that’s spent the past decade perfecting the art of anti-corporate trickery. The feat cemented their reputation as the world’s preeminent political pranksters (a reputation they recently reaffirmed by pranking the US Chamber of Commerce). It also proved that a punch line can occasionally pack a real punch.

    The Bhopal stunt kicks off the pair’s new film, The Yes Men Fix the World, the follow-up to their self-titled 2004 movie. But don’t let the puffed-up title fool you into thinking that the Yes Men believe their hijinks are actually making the world a better place. A better title would have been The Prank Is Dead. (more…)

    Inventing Marcel Duchamp

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    Filed under: Art Pranks, Pranksters, The Prank as Art

    Inventing Marcel Duchamp: The Dynamics of Portraiture
    National Portrait Gallery
    March 27 – August 2, 2009
    Washington, DC

    Portrait multiple de Marcel Duchamp (Five-Way Portrait of Marcel Duchamp), 1917

    Rrose Sélavy by Duchamps and Man Ray & Tonsure (rear view), by Man Ray

    Profile Portrait of Marcel Duchamp & Duchamp with Shaving Lather for Monte Carlo Bond, by Man Ray


    Washington, DC – This groundbreaking exhibition casts new light upon Marcel Duchamp (1887-1968), one of the most influential artists of the recent past. This show demonstrates that Duchamp harnessed the power of portraiture and self-portraiture both to secure his reputation as an iconoclast and to establish himself as a major figure in the artworld. (more…)

    Happy Birthday to The Art of the Prank (almost)!

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    Filed under: All About Pranks, The Future of Pranks, The Prank as Art

    On April Fools’ Day 2009,
    The Art of the Prank Blog
    will be two years old!


    Note to our contributors, friends and fans:
    In celebration, we have moved the entire blog to a cloud server. This will help us accommodate more volume and more traffic. Since we’re making big changes, we decided to change our Web address at the same time. Why not cause the maximum confusion for the most people?

    Henceforth, The Art of the Prank Blog will be found at
    (instead of

    Our new email addresses are:
    admin @ to talk with us
    submit @ to submit materials to the site

    You can continue to count on us to bring you the profound, the profane, and the pathetic, that is — the widest spectrum of artful pranks; culture jamming & reality hacking; creative activism; literary, media & political hoaxes; truth that’s stranger than fiction; prank instructionals; and loads of practical jokes and mischief.

    Please update your bookmarks and those of your friends’. If you are a subscriber, you don’t have to change anything. Email and RSS feed subscriptions should continue to function as usual. If you’d like to be a subscriber, please join us via email or RSS feed. You’ll find the subscription links on the right hand column of this page.

    If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to contact us.

    What Was Old is New Again @ ZKM

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    Filed under: Culture Jamming and Reality Hacking, The Prank as Art

    From at the New Museum, posted by Marcin Ramocki

    What Was Old is New Again
    A Meeting of Art and Scholarship

    Fri–Sun, November 21–23, 2008
    Symposium at the ZKM Lecture Hall
    Karlsruhe, Germany

    from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m.

    Every religion, political ideology, philosophy, and scientific theory embodies a set of structured beliefs. These belief systems maintain a symbiotic liaison with the arts. Throughout history, communal beliefs have relied on music, theater, painting, and dance in order to propagate accepted doctrines, and the arts in turn have shaped the articles of faith.

    The conference brings together artists and scholars in an unusual forum. The arts addressed deal primarily with media, the major art form that has only come to the fore in recent decades. The scholarship concerns antique matters, such as Sumerian music, early Egyptian medicine, and the omens, codes of law, and creation myths of Mesopotamia. The divergent perspectives of the participants augur well for innovative ideas emerging from this close encounter between scholarship, the arts, and the belief systems of early and modern times.

    Participants: Mel Alexenberg / Netanel Anor / Michael Bielicky / Bazon Brock / Yiyi Chen / Michael Cohn / Brian Dillon / Dragan Espenschied / Dmitry Gutov / Jenia Gutova / Wayne Horowitz / Th. J. H. Krispijn / Bo Lawergren / Olia Lialina / Barbara London / Naomi May / Luke Murphy / Muzaffer Ozgules / Marcin Ramocki / Morty Schiff / Irene Sibbing / Joey Skaggs / Peter Weibel / Martin Williams / Jocelyn Wolff / Henry Zemel

    Presented by

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