Creative Activism

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Fear, Loathing, and Farts in Austin

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Filed under: Creative Activism, Culture Jamming and Reality Hacking, Political Pranks, Pranksters, Publicity Stunts

Texas is at the center of the national controversy over mass shootings and gun control. And few cities have the same flair for the theatrical as does Austin.

The warring sides of the gun debate recently staged their own equally ridiculous public events in the state capital.

Fake Mass ShootingThe Huffington Post reports that “Pro-gun advocates doused fake victims with fake blood outside the University of Texas on Saturday in what they called a theatrical event to show the need for firearms on campus.

“Their ‘mock mass shooting’ was met with a much larger counter-protest and derision by many onlookers in the left-leaning city of Austin who saw the group pushing a position that could increase the danger brought by firearms at the university that saw one of the worst mass school shootings in U.S. history.

“One of the mock mass shooting organizers, the group Come and Take It Texas, said allowing gun-free zones on campuses eliminated a human right to personal protection.

“‘Our goal is to instill the importance of everyone to be able to defend themselves in any way they choose,’ the group said in a statement posted on its website.” Whole thing here.

mass farting counter-protestMeanwhile, as reported in the Austin Chronicle, “Pro-gun demonstrators staging a mock mass shooting near the University of Texas at Austin on Saturday were overwhelmed in number and ferocity by a large group of counter-protesters wielding dildos and machines that generated fart sounds.

“‘This isn’t about guns necessarily. This is about scaring our community. This is about a choice between fear and a little bit of good humor,’ Andrew Dobbs, a UT alumnus who organized the ‘mass farting’ counter-protest, told the crowd. ‘We are in a scary time right now and lots of scary things are happening, and some people want us to be more afraid.’ Whole thing here.

Peter Markus, RIP

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

Peter Markus, former classmate from the 60s at the School of Visual Arts, a talented artist, satirist and cartoonist, and a very dear friend, passed away on Wednesday, November 18, 2015. He was 70 years old. Peter was a frequent co-conspirator, working with me on numerous projects, usually behind-the-scenes, using his significant design talents to create graphic images of all sorts.

This is an image he created in 2000 purportedly for his own memorial as part of my Final Curtain media hoax, in which we promoted a cemetery theme park for creative people who wished to celebrate their own demise with satirical markers and mausoleums:

Peter Markus' self-made memorial tombstone from Joey Skaggs' Final Curtain media hoax in 2000

Peter broke his back in a motorcycle accident in the sixties, but it never stopped his indomitable creative spirit. He’ll be sorely missed.

Here are a couple of archive photos of Peter from the 70s:

PeterMarkusDog-1970s-72

Peter Markus Flag Shirt-1970s


Providence Punks Poke Fun at Local Foodies

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

As marks go, culinary snobs are low-hanging pomegranates. But these anonymous Rhode Island performance artists get points for their attention to detail. (H/t to Dave Pell.)


The Hippest Cafe in Providence Was Totally Fake
By Vicky Gan
Citylab
October 27, 2015

luracafeFor a few #blessed days, Lura Cafe was the hottest new restaurant in Providence. The bright, cozy farm-to-table joint hid in plain sight next to a downtown parking lot, steps away from the Rhode Island Convention Center. Lura would be a refuge for diners in the know, serving modern takes on cafe classics—all local, all organic, all certified GMO-free. It was upscale and casual, timeless and avant-garde. It had a vaguely Nordic air of refinement.

It announced itself – as all similarly accoutred restaurants must – with a social media blitz, featuring sans serif lettering, sunny high-angle shots of brunch dishes, even a breathless write-up in the New York Times.

It was also totally fake.

When Lura Cafe “opened” on October 18, visitors were greeted not with avocado toast and bruleed carrots but with a manifesto: “‘Lura’ is a statement project targeting the rising phenomenon of the elitist subculture of foodies.” Beside it, a translation of “Lura” – “Swedish for fool, trick, deceive, lure, cheat, befool” – and a call to arms: #stopfoodies2015.

The satire wasn’t exactly subtle. In the days leading up to Lura’s grand opening, the restaurant’s Facebook page taunted followers with a surreal menu of “home-cut potatoes… wrapped in authentic New York Times newspaper,” “cold brew coffee served… over mineralized water rocks,” and “10x washed quinoa salad.” The quote attributed to Pontus Wikner, “POTS SEIDOOF,” is “FOODIES STOP” backwards. Full story here.


RyanFair Hoax: Flights of Fancy

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Filed under: Creative Activism, Culture Jamming and Reality Hacking

From Andrea Natella: The RyanFair media hoax: Shaming the world into being a better place one corporation at a time.


‘RyanFair’ hoax claims airline will carry refugees visa-free
RT
30 Sep, 2015 16:20

© Andrew Yates/Reuters

© Andrew Yates/Reuters

A hoax website masquerading as an initiative driven by budget airline Ryanair has offered to transport asylum seekers lacking the proper documentation, as Europe grapples with one of history’s worst refugee crises.

The prank site claims the airline will transport migrants from Greece, Montenegro, Slovakia and Hungary into Western Europe. A spokesperson for Ryanair told RT that the site is “entirely fictitious” and has absolutely no affiliation with the carrier.

The site included a fabricated quote from Ryanair Chief Marketing Officer Kenny Jacobs: “We are facing the biggest humanitarian emergency of our era, confirming our mission: made [sic] air travel accessible to the masses. We decided to open to refugees our routes from Greece and East Europe, violating a rule that simply dumps government responsibilities on the carriers. We will proudly cover all the costs of this violation.”

RyanAirTweet

(more…)

Arabic Graffiti on TV’s Homeland: The Writing’s on the Wall

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Filed under: Creative Activism, Political Pranks

Street Artists Infiltrate ‘Homeland’ With Subversive Graffiti
by Dan Bilefsky and Mona Boshnaq
The New York Times
October 15, 2015

On TV's "Homeland," artists hired to add authenticity to a Syrian refugee-camp set scrawled Arabic graffiti messages declaring the show "racist."

On TV’s “Homeland,” artists hired to add authenticity to a Syrian refugee-camp set scrawled Arabic graffiti messages declaring the show “racist.”


LONDON — In a recent episode of Showtime’s hit series “Homeland,” the former C.I.A. officer Carrie Mathison is escorted by a Hezbollah militant past a wall in a fictional Syrian refugee camp covered with Arabic graffiti.

Attentive viewers who read Arabic, however, might have noticed something awry. Among the messages spray-painted on the walls: “ ‘Homeland’ is racist,” “There is no ‘Homeland’ ” and “ ‘Homeland’ is not a show.”

The subversive messages seemingly escaped the notice of the producers of the television series.

On Wednesday, an Egyptian artist, Heba Y. Amin, and two other artists, Caram Kapp and Stone, took credit for the graffiti, saying it was a subtle protest of false and misleading stereotypes in the series, which has been heavily criticized for its portrayals of Muslims. (more…)

The Squicky Side of International Development

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Filed under: Creative Activism, Political Pranks, Satire

JadedAid, a new party game derived in style and spirit from Cards Against Humanity, satirizes the international development industry in brutal and hilarious fashion.


Cards Against Humanitarians
by Iyla Lozofsky
Foreign Policy
September 28, 2015

Needless to say, this very serious industry has its very serious critics. But few are as creative (or as hilarious) as three young development professionals who, in the last few weeks, have chosen to express their discontent by self-publishing a satirical card game. JadedAid is modeled on the popular millennial game, Cards Against Humanity, in which players compete to select the funniest (or most vulgar) answers to a set of “fill-in-the-blank” questions. Just a week since its opening, the JadedAid KickStarter campaign has collected nearly twenty thousand dollars — far ahead of its creators’ targets — and the game is well on its way to completion. As an example of the kind of decidedly un-pc satire the game provides, here is one possible combination of cards:

Some of the card ideas were developed by the game’s inventors, who, all in their thirties, have extensive experience in the technology and communication side of the development industry. But the vast majority of the suggestions (nearly 800 at last count) were submitted by friends, colleagues, and anonymous development workers. One of the game’s co-founders, Jessica Heinzelman, 36, attributes the game’s immediate appeal to the need for development workers to “let off some steam” by subjecting their experiences in the field to mockery. (more…)

Art Project Causes Outrage and Reflection

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Filed under: Creative Activism, Culture Jamming and Reality Hacking

University at Buffalo student hangs ‘White Only’ signs on campus, sparks outrage
by Melissa Chan
New York Daily News
September 18, 2015

Ashley Powell White Only sign art project
These “White Only” signs were hung near bathrooms at the University at Buffalo this week. Ashley Powell, a graduate art student, admitted to hanging the signs for a class art project. UBSPECTRUM.COM

Ashley Powell, 25, who is black, admitted to plastering the Jim Crow-esque signs near several bathrooms and water fountains in a dorm as an art project to express her struggles with being a minority in the U.S. and to “expose white privilege.”

“I am in pain,” the graduate student wrote in a lengthy explanation posted on Facebook and published by the UB student newspaper. “My art practice is a remnant of my suffering. White privilege and compliance only exacerbate my symptoms.”

Powell said she hung up the signs to see how many white people would see the signs and do something about it, although she claims it was not a “social experiment.”

“Today these signs may no longer exist, but the system that they once reinforced still does,” she wrote. “Any white person who would walk past these signs without ripping them down shows a disturbing compliance with this system.”

The signs, which Powell said were created with support from her professor and colleagues, caused a firestorm of controversy on campus. Students denounced the project as racist and a hate crime, ABC 27 reported. Read the whole story here.

Bible Studies for Kim Davis

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Filed under: Creative Activism, The Big One

Planting Peace Sends a Message to Kim Davis, September 11, 2015

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Following the June 26th Supreme Court ruling on marriage equality, Rowan County clerk Kim Davis refused to issue same-sex marriage licenses in her home state, citing that doing so compromised her religious beliefs. That day, she became the poster child for the anti-gay movement.

As has been painstakingly observed time and time again, the anti-LGBTQ movement is comprised of a substantial number of zealots who unfailingly refer to their rigid interpretation of religious text to narrowly define “traditional” institutions and values. They pick and choose what they wish to convey as immoral and unacceptable, while seemingly sweeping lines of scripture just a few letters away completely under the rug.

In response, Planting Peace has constructed a message for Kim Davis and the anti-LGBTQ movement. The intent of the billboard is to expose this narrow interpretation by Davis and others that they use to defend their discrimination against the LGBTQ community. It is important and relevant to call this out, because these messages and actions are not simply about a political or religious debate. There are LGBTQ youth across the world who are taking their lives at an alarming rate because of these messages from society that make them feel broken or less than. We have to meet hate with love…intolerance with compassion.

Our message to our LGBTQ youth is simple:
You are loved, valued, supported, and beautiful.
There is nothing wrong with you, and we will stand by you.
You are not alone.

Planting Peace

photo: Huffington Post


PAC-ing a Punch

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Filed under: Co-option (If You Can't Beat 'Em...), Creative Activism, First Amendment Issues, Parody

From W.J. Elvin: Not that it’s too difficult to find bizarre humor in politics today but here’s an interesting sidelight from former colleague Glenn Garvin.


Scamsters, jokers: this PAC’s for you
by Glenn Garvin
Miami Herald
September 5, 2015

Cats-for-a-better-tomorrow-200Finally it’s arrived: High-rolling fat-cat campaign finance for the rest of us! The days when it took Donald Trump’s bank account and a battalion of lawyers to buy and sell political candidates like bags of potatoes are behind us. Now anybody with access to a computer, 20 minutes to spare and a low boredom threshold can set up a political action committee to funnel unlimited campaign contributions to the issue or candidate of his choice, no matter how weird, prankish or — let’s be honest here —stupid.

Seriously — well, “seriously” is probably not exactly the right word, but you get it — nothing is too bizarre, too arcane or too ridiculous to have its own super PAC. If you’re sick of American politicians who badmouth Darth Vader, you can give money to The Empire Strikes PAC, which helps candidates who favor “the construction of a safer, more x-wing resistant Death Star.”

And if you grieve that we haven’t had a bewhiskered president in the 122 years since Benjamin Harrison left the White House, send all the money you want to Bearded Entrepreneurs for the Advancement of a Responsible Democracy (that’s right, BEARD PAC), which imperiously decrees that “the time is now to bring facial hair back into politics.”

And yes, there’s even a PAC for the uncounted hordes who believe Virginia psychologist Anna Hornberger’s cat Xavier would make a good president: the My Cat Xavier for a Better Tomorrow, Tomorrow PAC. (Even you dog people have to admit that a president who comes with a full-time shrink attached is an idea whose time may have arrived.)

When the U.S. Supreme Court paved the way for Super PACS in 2010 with a pair of decisions — Citizens United v. Federal Elections Commission and SpeechNOW.org v. Federal Elections Commission — that established the rights of Americans to make unlimited campaign contributions as long as they go to independent committees and not directly to candidates or political parties, some political scientists predicted disastrous corruption. Others foresaw a robust expansion of the First Amendment.

What nobody expected is that creating super PACS would turn into a sort of performance art that, depending on your perspective, either joyously celebrates or cynically mocks the American political system.

Read the rest of this article here.


Art of the Prank Movie is About to Launch!

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Filed under: Art of the Prank - the movie, Art Pranks, Creative Activism, Prank News, Pranksters

Art of the Prank movie still

We’re excited!

Art of the Prank, the feature documentary film about the life and work of artist Joey Skaggs, produced and directed by Andrea Marini and co-produced by Judy Drosd, is nearing completion. Filmed in New York, London, Hawaii, Los Angeles, Kentucky & Tennessee, the movie, a story of true will and determination, follows Joey as he attempts to pull off the most challenging media hoax of his career.

The movie website is now live at http://artoftheprank-themovie.com.
The Facebook and Twitter pages are respectively at:
http://www.facebook.com/artoftheprankthemovie
http://twitter.com/aotp_themovie

Here’s the teaser trailer:

The plan is to submit the film to film festivals around the world and to begin showing it widely. We’re open to all forms of distribution so please share any ideas you have with us. You are very important to the success of this film. The more that our friends and colleagues spread the word, the more opportunities we’ll have to grow an audience. We’d love to have as many people see the film as possible.

There will be more news soon about some exciting screenings this Fall.


Why Hollywood Culture’s Outspoken (Fake) Mystery Critics Threw in the Towel Remains a Mystery

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Filed under: Creative Activism, Literary Hoaxes, Pranksters

Twitter’s ‘Mystery Hollywood’ implodes: @MysteryExec was a fake
by Josh Dickey
Mashable
August 20, 2015

@MysteryExec, @MysteryVP Thumbnails

@MysteryExec, @MysteryVP thumbnails

The Twitter handle @MysteryExec, the most prominent voice in a small and tight-knit community of showbiz types who for years have tweeted anonymously, candidly and often about their batshit crazy profession, deleted his account sometime late Tuesday night. So did his sidekick, the tart-tongued @MysteryVP.

The reason: Mystery Executive is not an executive at all. Mystery VP is vice president of nothing.

They were catfish. And that’s too bad.

Multiple sources close to the people behind the accounts tell Mashable that @MysteryExec and @MysteryVP were a young male/female writing duo just trying to make it in Hollywood whose prank turned into a mini-phenomenon. What started as an outlet for their frustration turned into a movement that thousands of people, including this writer and dozens of prominent players in Hollywood, readily bought into.

And in recent months, as the ruse began to unravel, the entire Mystery showbiz-on-Twitter community began to crumble, too.

Read the whole story here.


Mike Huckabee Won’t Give You a Choice

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Filed under: Creative Activism, Satire, The Big One

From Erin:


Mike Huckabee guitar lessons

Inside the Center for Tactical Magic

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Filed under: Art Pranks, Creative Activism, Culture Jamming and Reality Hacking, Pranksters, The History of Pranks, The Prank as Art

Here’s a rare glimpse behind the enigma of the legendary Center for Tactical Magic as founder Aaron Gach shares his background, philosophy, and success stories in this interview with Regine Debatty.


“Interview with The Center for Tactical Magic”
by Regine Debatty
We Make Money Not Art
August 14, 2015

The Center for Tactical Magic uses any craft and scheme available, from the most magical to the most pragmatic, to address issues of power relations and self-empowerment.

At the CTM we are committed to achieving the Great Work of Tactical Magic through community-based projects, daily interdiction, and the activation of latent energies toward positive social transformation.

Tactical Ice Cream Unit

CTM’s work combines appealing aesthetics, humour and language with actions that invite people to think, question and reclaim their civil rights. Their most famous project is the Tactical Ice Cream Unit, a truck distributing free ice cream along with propaganda developed by local progressive groups. Another of their initiative saw them launch a bank heist contest. And a year before that, they responded to New York’s stop-and-frisk policy by screening Linking & Unlinking on a digital billboard in Manhattan. The billboard showed amateur footage demonstrating how to pick a pair of handcuffs, magicians performing a classic magic trick called “linking rings“, while a text from the American Civil Liberties Union was scrolling down and explaining passersby what their rights were if they were stopped by the police. In 2013, they set up big Witches’ Cradles that evoke the Inquisition and enveloped people into an altered state (of consciousness, or an altered political state). Most recently, Gach directed and performed a radical magic show which drew parallels between magic acts and contemporary issues such as economic manipulation, political deception, vanishing resources, and social transformation.

Read the interview here.


Austerity Art in Athens

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Filed under: Creative Activism

Street artists in Athens are expressing their economic concerns and frustration with vivid imagery:

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See more images from Huff Post Greece.


Children vs. Fashion

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Filed under: Creative Activism

From the website of Yolanda Dominquez, visual artist and activist who, “through irony and contextualization as principal strategies, creates situations or scenarios in which the viewer is involved and can participate.”

She recently asked young children to talk about images fashion brands use to promote their new collections.

Watch the video:

Photos:
001_Kids-vs-Fashion_Yolanda-Dominguez1

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Read more here: Kids Point Out Dark Side Of Fashion Ads That We’ve All Been Ignoring, by Jamie Feldman, July 30, 2015, HuffPo.