Creative Activism

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Art as Healer

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The Incredible Ways Art Is Helping Charleston Unite After Church Massacre
Huffington Post
June 27, 2015

…In the week since the shootings, many other Charleston residents have expressed their emotions in powerful and creative ways, from thousands of people joining hands in a unity chain to making handmade signs honoring the victims…

Panhandle Slim

Sara Green Studio, Instagram

MadeleineSchimming Madeleine Schimming, Age 7

See the whole article here.

Symbol of Hatred Bravely Removed Only To Be Immediately Replaced

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Confederate flag raised again at South Carolina Statehouse after woman climbs pole to remove it
by David Boroff, Rachelle Blidner
Daily News
June 27, 2015

aptopix-charleston-shooting-confederate-flagBree Newsome used a climbing mechanism to reach the top of the 30-foot pole. Bruce Smith/AP.

A woman climbed a flagpole and removed the Confederate flag from the South Carolina Statehouse Saturday — only to be arrested and have the banner raised again less than an hour later.

Bree Newsome scaled the 30-foot pole using a harness just after dawn as officers yelled for her to come down on the Columbia grounds, organizer Tamika Lewis told the Daily News.

“You cannot get to me with hatred and oppression and violence,” Newsome shouted from the top of the pole, according to video. “I come to do this in the name of God. This flag comes down today.”

Newsome took her time climbing down, citing prayers as she did so. When she reached the bottom, State Police took the flag out of her hands and arrested her.

Another activist, James Tyson, spotted Newsome at the bottom of the pole to make sure she didn’t fall, Lewis said. He was arrested alongside Newsome as a group of onlookers cheered off camera. Read the rest of this article here.

YouTube video from The Tribe:

Unsanctioned Bust of Edward Snowden Erected (Briefly)

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Filed under: Creative Activism, Culture Jamming and Reality Hacking

From Deborah Thomas:

There’s a Massive, Illicit Bust of Edward Snowden Stuck to a War Monument in Brooklyn
by Bucky Turco
April 6, 2015

Illicit statue of Edward Snowden erected in Brooklyn

While most people slept, a trio of artists and some helpers installed a bust of NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden in Brooklyn on Monday morning. The group, which allowed ANIMAL to exclusively document the installation on the condition that we hide their identities, hauled the 100-pound sculpture into Fort Greene Park and up its hilly terrain just before dawn. They fused it to part of the Prison Ship Martyrs Monument, a memorial to Revolutionary War soldiers. As of press time, the sculpture was still there.

Read the full story of the erection on and the very quick removal by City park officials on

Watch the video:

Afgan Artist Angers Her Harassers

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Filed under: Creative Activism, Culture Jamming and Reality Hacking

Afghan artist dons armour to counter men’s street harassment
by Emma Graham-Harrison
The Guardian
12 March 2015

Kubra Khademi’s eight-minute walk in Kabul wearing steel armour that emphasised her body shape inspires anger and death threats

 Kubra Khademi was surrounded by a mainly male crowd, which threw insults and stones during her walk. Photograph: Twitter

Kubra Khademi was surrounded by a mainly male crowd, which threw insults and stones during her walk. Photograph: Twitter

It took a month for Kubra Khademi to get the armour made exactly to her design; hours spent with a quiet, patient metalworker who usually made stoves.

The performance artist was an unusual customer on a street of dusty workshops in Kabul, where she chose her craftsman for his lack of curiosity about the outrageous steel plates she sketched out.

In a deeply conservative country where women are expected to shroud their figure and almost every inch of bare skin beyond hands, face and feet, she wanted steel armour that slipped over and emphasised her breasts, belly, crotch and bottom.

“He was a quiet man,” she recalls. “He didn’t question me at first, maybe because of my attitude. Then he asked: ‘What the hell is it?’, because other people were asking him.”

It was in fact part of a vanishing occurrence in the Afghan capital: a piece of performance art, planned by 27-year-old Khademi. The armour would be both protection and a defiant rebuke to the men whose groping hands and leering remarks make Kabul’s streets uncomfortable for almost any woman who walks them unchaperoned.

Photograph: Massoud Hossaini

Photograph: Massoud Hossaini

It was also an almost unimaginable provocation in a city where pornography may be avidly consumed in private, but women’s appearance is fiercely policed in public. Her performance lasted less than 10 minutes, but pictures soon ricocheted around social media, drawing anger and death threats – genuine worries in a country where women have been murdered for working as news anchors, actors and singers.

Read the rest of this article here.

Looking Back at Some Superstar Scambaiters

Filed under: Creative Activism, Fraud and Deception, Pranksters, The History of Pranks

419 scams (a/k/a “NIGERIAN PRINCE” emails) have long, long fascinated certain quarters of the internet. They’ve flooded inboxes with outsider poetry and inspired satire and scambaiting, a prankish and dangerous literary subgenre explored at length in the fascinating work of journalist Eve Edelson.

Craigslist killers, social media “catfishing” scams, and the internet vigilantes of Anonymous now get much more attention, making 419ers look like relics, at least by internet standards. And yet, great work still emerges from the scambaiter milieu.

Here’s the absurd story (from 2013) of how a few intrepid 419-eaters orchestrated the cover of Vice, for posterity.

“How We Got the Skammerz Ishu Cover”
By Mishka Henner
December 17, 2013

Scam-baiting is a form of internet vigilantism in which the vigilante poses as a potential victim to expose a scammer. It’s essentially grassroots social engineering conducted as civic duty or even amusement, a cross-cultural double bluff in which participants on separate continents try to outdo each other in an online tug-of-war for one’s time and resources – and the other’s private banking information.

The baiter begins by “biting the hook” – answering an email from the scammer. The “victim” feigns receptivity to the financial lure, engaging the scammer in a drawn-out chain of emails. The most important element of baiting is to waste as much of the scammer’s time as possible – when a scammer is preoccupied, it prevents him from conning genuine victims.

Vice Skammerz IshuThe cover of the issue you’re looking at is a trophy from the most elaborate bait I’ve ever been involved in. Three scammers, spread across Libya and the United Arab Emirates, set the con. They posed as a widow named Nourhan Abdul Aziz, a doctor named Dr. Ahmadiyya Ibrahim and a banker going by Ephraim Adamoah. From Nourhan’s initial contact with my associate, Condo Rice, to Ephraim’s actually donning an Obama mask and shooting our cover for us, 7,000 words were exchanged over nearly four months of emails. During that time, Condo and I negotiated our way through a labyrinthine network of fake websites, bogus documents and broken English, and ended up with the weirdest photograph I’ve seen in a long time. Read the actual email correspondence here.

Banksy Does Gaza

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Filed under: Creative Activism, Parody

Banksy has posted a new tourism video welcoming world travelers to the wonders of Gaza:

Some of the images:




Watch the video:

More about this piece here.

More about Banksy here.

“Children Aren’t Playthings” Campaign

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Shared Hope International, whose mission is to eradicate sex trafficking, unveils their “Children Aren’t Playthings” doll box campaign to warn the public of the potential for and dangers of sex trafficking of minors at “mega” sporting events like the upcoming Super Bowl. Young women take turns standing in the box for hours on end to bring attention to this cause.

Anti-sex trafficking stunt at the Super Bowl

From Huffington Post, January 28, 2015:

The 7-foot exhibit debuted on Monday at Arizona State University, which is a hosting a weeklong anti-trafficking campaign, Offenbacher added.

It will also be stationed at Grand Canyon University, Glendale Community College and downtown Phoenix throughout the week leading up to Super Bowl Sunday, according to a statement released by SHI. Saturday’s event will be held in conjunction with StreetLightUSA, a local Arizona group that rehabilitates sex trafficking survivors between the ages of 11 and 17.

Read more about it here.

Valuable Life Lessons and Limited-Edition Boxes of Poo

Filed under: Creative Activism, Culture Jamming and Reality Hacking, Parody, Pranksters

Emerson Dameron chats with Cards Against Humanity’s Max Temkin:

bullshitcahLike numerous other small businesspeople, the braintrust behind the controversial party game Cards Against Humanity ran a money-saving special on “Black Friday,” the designated consumer orgy following Thanksgiving.

First, the company pulled its flagship game offline for the day, leaving any prospective buyers with plumper wallets. In case anyone remained dead set on exchanging scratch for CAH merch, it introduced an exclusive new item: the Box of Bullshit. It sold out within hours, despite the fact that it was, as its creators explained repeatedly throughout the day, precisely as advertised.

I checked in with Max Temkin, a Chicago-based designer and the most high-profile member of the Cards Against Humanity team, to see how it went.

How did you hatch the idea for the Box of Bullshit?

We all hate “Black Friday” and the ensuing media frenzy around it, which is a problem for us because holiday sales are pretty important for our company. I’ve always loved the Black Friday culture jamming that happens, like people who run up to a Best Buy moments before it opens and U-lock the doors shut. So it just seemed right for us to parody black friday by taking part in it in completely the wrong way. (more…)

Westboro Baptist Church Pranked with Fake Turkey Recall

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Filed under: Creative Activism, Pranksters

Turkey hoax targets controversial church
by Andy Warren
November 28, 2014

Fred Phelps Sr. of Westboro Baptist in Kansas displays one of his infamous protest signs, Photo by Capital-Journal File Photo/MBO

Fred Phelps Sr. of Westboro Baptist in Kansas displays one of his infamous protest signs, Photo by Capital-Journal File Photo/MBO

National Report, the satirical website that immediately jumped on the Ebola hoax wagon, has done it again for the holidays.

Millions of Thanksgiving turkeys have been recalled because of a mutated form of the avian flu virus.

It seems no form of preparation, whether baked or deep fried, will make them safe for human consumption, the article alerts.

“Consumers should call the Turkey Safety Hotline … for safety updates.”

That’s the hoax part. Then there’s the big finish:

The phone number provided is for Pastor Fred W. Phelps at the Westboro Baptist Church, the anti-gay Kansas-based congregation infamous for picketing at military funerals that recently tried to out-yell Texas A&M students over the school’s inclusion policies.

Projecting Solidarity for Hong Kong Protestors

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Filed under: Creative Activism, Culture Jamming and Reality Hacking

Messages Supporting Hong Kong Protesters Stream from Web to the Streets
by Adario Strange
September 30, 2014

IMG_3844.JPGMessages supporting Occupy Central sent in to a Hong Kong art collective’s website are turned into a stream real-time, projected graffiti. Read the full article here.

image: Add Oil Machine for OCLP

Hazmat Suited Doctor Brings it Home

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Filed under: Creative Activism, Publicity Stunts

From CNN, October 5, 2014:

Doctor Gilbert Mobley wore a hazmat suit and strolled through the world’s busiest airport to make a point about Ebola.

Watch the video – Doctor: The CDC is lying about Ebola

Protestors Flood Wall Street

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Flood Wall Street Protesters Assemble In New York
by Katherine Boehrer
The Huffington Post
September 22, 2014

Flood Wall Street, by ethanvanauken

A day after the People’s Climate March filled the streets of New York, a smaller group of protesters are engaging in non-violent, direct action against climate change. By conducting a sit-in on the steps of the New York Stock Exchange and blocking lower Broadway, organizers say they are confronting “the system that both causes and profits from the crisis that is threatening humanity.”

The protest does not have a permit, and some participants have pledged to risk arrest during the sit-in.

Pictures from the group’s assembly at Battery Park, the march to Wall Street and a blockade of Broadway are already appearing on social media. Follow #FloodWallStreet on Twitter and Instagram for more live updates. Watch a live-stream from StopMotionsolo.

UPDATE — 4:15 p.m.: At least one protestor has been arrested according to Newsweek’s Zoe Schlanger and there are reports that pepper spray has been used by the NYPD. Protesters had moved to the blocked entrance to Wall Street, attempting to remove barriers and get past police.

image: ethanvanauken

See more photos here.

Anti-Koch Light Activists Arrested for “Illegal Advertising”

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Filed under: Creative Activism

From Naomi Pitcairn: Another hypocritical farce. Did the NYPD arrest the right “illegal advertisers”?

NYPD Detains Activists for Anti-Koch Light Graffiti at the Met
by Ben Davis
Artnet News
September 11, 2014

On Tuesday, three activists were detained by NYPD officers outside the Metropolitan Museum of Art after disrupting a gala honoring David H. Koch. The controversial billionaire was being fêted for his $65 million contribution to the newly reopened museum plaza, which prominently bears his name (see “Protesters Crash Koch Plaza Opening at the Met“). The three activists, Kyle Depew, Grayson Earle, and Yates McKee, were caught projecting images from a customized art truck onto the museum’s façade that read “The Met: Brought to you by the Tea Party” and “Koch = Climate Chaos”—references to Koch’s well-known role in funding right-wing and climate change denying groups.

Light Brigade at the MET

The incident followed a protest earlier in the day by the tenacious Occupy Wall Street spin-off Occupy Museums, which by all accounts brought a good-spirited group of art activists to the newly opened David H. Koch Plaza to stage anti-Koch performances. Early in the evening, the activists unexpectedly had a chance to confront Koch himself on the steps of the museum, chanting “Shame on climate change denier” as he passed by on the way to his car. (more…)

Performance Artist Explores the Weight of Personal Violation

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Emma Sulkowicz says her senior thesis is more performance art than an act of protest. Perhaps it is both.

Columbia Student Will Carry a Mattress Everywhere Until Her Alleged Rapist Is Expelled
By Jessica Roy
New York Magazine
September 2, 2014

columbia-performance-art-rape-student.200Emma Sulkowicz says she was raped in her own dorm bed by a classmate on the first day of her sophomore year of college. Since then, a substantial amount of her time at Columbia University has been spent trying to convince college administrators, police, and even friends that what happened to her really happened, that it was rape, and that her rapist deserves to be punished for what he did.

[Read The Cut’s September 4 interview with Sulkowicz here.]

Sulkowicz is one of 23 students who are part of a federal Title IX complaint filed against Columbia in April for mishandling sexual-assault cases. Though she and two other students reported that the same student had assaulted them, all of their claims were swept under the rug, and the male student was not expelled from campus.

…Now a senior majoring in visual arts, Sulkowicz has devised a senior thesis rooted in performance art that will allow her to protest the fact that her rapist continues to study on campus. She has committed to carrying around a twin-size dorm mattress everywhere she goes on campus, to classes and appointments, “for as long as I attend the same school as my rapist.” Read the rest of this article here.

Watch video of Sulkowicz explaining her thesis project:

A Rough Week for Celebrities: Recap

Filed under: Creative Activism, Practical Jokes and Mischief, Publicity Stunts

This week, a major Hollywood star faces repercussions for a public stunt, while another remains with us despite a death hoax.


via Flickr

The satirical website caused a brief scare with a pun about beloved actress Betty White “dyeing.” In light of the very real passing of comedian Joan Rivers, the goof caused understandable alarm.

from NBC 5 San Diego

from NBC 5 San Diego

Meanwhile, Steve-O, a star of the Jackass franchise, is facing criminal charges for defacing a sign directing Southern California motorists to Sea World. With the horrifying scandals that have lately surrounded the aquatic amusement park, Sea World must be particularly sensitive about its reputation.

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