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Joe Enright on Joey Skaggs–60 Years of Satire, Psychic Attorneys and Mobile Confessionals

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Joe Enright takes a walk down memory lane and reviews Joey Skaggs Satire and Art Activism, 1960s to the Present and Beyond, the new oral history series debuting at the New Jersey Film Festival on Friday, February 12, 2021


Joey Skaggs: 60 Years of Satire, Psychic Attorneys & Mobile Confessionals, by Joe Enright, Argyle Heights, February 10, 2021

In the mid-1960s, a Lower East Side artist organized crucifixion performances in the East Village on Easter Sunday, protesting social injustice and the Vietnam War. They created…wait for it…wait for it…controversy! The cops swarmed and he was busted. This inspired some Hollywood filmmakers to option his life story for a movie. To which the young man responded: “What life story? I’m only 20!” Indeed, there would be so much more to his story.

Joey Skaggs went on to become a satirist and prankster with an extraordinary history of accomplishments, only some of which were crammed into the hilarious 2015 documentary, Art of the Prank. But many scholars also consider him a progenitor of “culture jamming” and “reality hacking,” decades before such high-falutin’ terms were invented to describe his sly takeover of the language and visual trappings of American culture in order to subversively critique it. His pranks are never vicious, never illegal, but they do require a deadpan sense of humor, good acting skills, well-crafted press releases, financing for props, costumes, videos and above all, a wonderful imagination with the planning necessary to carry it all forward.

Skaggs is foremost a very versatile artist, but when pressed for a definitive occupational title I could pin on him for this profile, Joey chose “Pataphysician,” defined by the 19th century French writer Alfred Jarry as a practitioner of “the science of imaginary solutions.” Among Skaggs’ long list of solutions that have brought joy to many fellow citizens, and embarrassment to bamboozled reporters and societal gate-keepers, some stand out for their sheer audacity. Read the whole article here.


Catch the First Four Joey Skaggs Oral Histories at the (Virtual) New Jersey Film Festival Friday

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Who is Joey Skaggs?

Find out more as the New Jersey Film Festival screens the first four oral histories in the new series, Joey Skaggs Satire and Art Activism, 1960s to the Present and Beyond this Friday, February 12, 2021.

The screening is virtual and is available for streaming anywhere (not just in New Jersey) for 24 hours as of 12:01 am. From the moment you begin watching, you have 24 hours to finish it.

Teaser trailer

Joey Skaggs Oral History Film Series Launches

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ANNOUNCING:

Joey Skaggs Satire and Art Activism, 1960s to the Present and Beyond

A new series of short oral history films,
produced and directed by Judy Drosd with Joey Skaggs

 

UPCOMING SCREENINGS AND ANNOUNCEMENTS ARE HERE



This “sticky” post will be here for a while. Scroll down for other posts.


Norman Savage, RIP

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Norman Savage was a poet, author, friend and long-time co-conspirator. In addition to participating in performance pieces, he also doubled as me, even though we didn’t look or sound at all alike, on numerous occasions.

He was always game for some sly fun.

Here’s a brief journey through some of our hijinks together.



In 1986, Norman played the part of a diet commando in my Fat Squad hoax, where you could take out a contract on yourself and commandos would keep you on your diet.

In 1988, when Entertainment Tonight asked me to appear for a story promising the inside scoop on great hoaxes and hoaxers—how the news media falls for their stories, what to watch out for, and how not to be fooled—I sent Norman to appear as me.

In 1990, Norman played a “Hair Today, Ltd” scalp donor in a photo taken for Mark Dery’s article “The Merry Pranksters and the Art of the Hoax” in The New York Times.

(more…)

If Your Medical Bills Make You Sick, Sell Them.

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Here’s a creative prescription for managing your medical bills.


Oversized hospital bill paintings sold to pay off medical debts, by Oscar Holland, CNN, October 5, 2020

An art collective has come up with a novel way of paying off three people’s medical debt: turning their hospital bills into huge paintings and selling them to collectors for thousands of dollars.

The paintings were sold for the same amount owed on each bill, with the money used to pay off the applicants’ medical debts. Credit: MSCHF

New York-based MSCHF, which is known for its irreverent art projects, identified Americans with sizable medical debt, including one with a bill for over $47,000. The group then hand-painted the invoices on 6-foot-tall canvases and sold them on the art market for precisely the amount owed.

Beyond settling these individuals’ debts with the money generated, the artists aim to make a wider commentary about the US health care system. Over 137 million people in the United States reported medical financial hardship, a 2019 study found.

Read more here.

As Bugs Bunny would say: Comment Ca Va, Doc?

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Whether you’re raising awareness about food waste or trying to keep people from smoking, tons of carrots seem to be the way to do it…


32 tons of carrots dumped on London street for art installation, by Ben Hooper, September 30, 2020

Angry French tobacconists dump tons of carrots on Paris streets, by Robert Myles, July 24 2015

New Listing!

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Vote and evict him! h/t DJD

Statues That Should Be Torn Down

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“There shall be no golden idols…”


Golden ‘Statues’ Memorializing Donald Trump’s Most Divisive Moments Have Popped Up Around Washington, DC, Courtesy of an Ad Guru, Sarah Cascone, ArtNet News, July 21, 2020

Bryan Buckley hopes to remind voters of just how poorly Trump has handled the challenges of 2020.

Bryan Buckley, Now Go Back to School. Photo courtesy of the Trump Statue Initiative.

Big, shiny, gold statues of Donald Trump sound like they would be right up the president’s alley—but a new art project, titled the “Trump Statue Initiative,” uses the figures to instead memorialize his worst moments of 2020.

Street performers painted head-to-toe in metallic gold paint posed as still as stone atop massive plinths that hailed Trump as the “destroyer of civil rights and liberties.” The trio of “statues” appeared over the weekend in sites across Washington, DC.

Filmmaker Bryan Buckley decided to stage the project in part because of the way public statues have made headlines all summer, with activists outraging Trump with their efforts to remove memorials to Confederate leaders and other problematic historical figures. In response, the president has not only beefed up the law against vandalizing statues, but also issued an executive order to create a “National Garden of American Heroes.”

Bryan Buckley, The Bunker. Photo courtesy of the Trump Statue Initiative.

“I noticed that Trump was obsessed with statues,” Buckley told AdAge. “I felt like the best thing we could do was to create these very honest statues of the legacy he’s living right now, that let the world see exactly who he is.” Read the whole article here.

Here’s Why New York City Parks Close at Dusk

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Reminding us about the good old days, artist Joseph Reginella just placed statues around New York commemorating Mayor Ed Koch’s (1978-1989) strategy for ridding the city of taggers by releasing wild wolves in the subway yards. According to Joseph, they’ve since multiplied and are roaming the city’s nether regions. H/T Felipe.


Sculptures of wolves mauling tourist appear in New York City parks
by Rusty Blazenhoff
BoingBoing
October 10, 2019

This is weird.

A series of identical monuments depicting a tourist being mauled by a pack of wolves have surreptitiously been installed in different New York City parks with plaques that read:

Dedicated to the many tourists that go missing every year in New York City.

And a reminder as to why the parks close at dusk.

Erected by the Ed Koch Wolf Foundation and the NYC Fellowship.

A brilliant prankster with mad sculpting skills is taking credit.

Watch the video:

Here’s Mayor Koch pontificating on his brilliant idea:

Read the full story here.

Banking on Banksy

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Banksy conquers retail with a storefront selling satire.


Banksy Opens London Art Shop Same Week He Sets $12M Auction Record
by Naomi Polonsky
Hyperallergic
October 4, 2019

The anonymous artist has opened a shop in the south London borough of Croydon to showcase some of his characteristically humorous items.

photos by Naomi Polonsky

LONDON — Banksy has always had a complicated relationship with the art market. His unsanctioned street works deliberately challenge the idea of art as a tradeable commodity, but often still end up at auction, commanding astronomical prices. A stunt last year during which his “Girl with a Balloon” (2006) self-destructed at a Sotheby’s sale seemed like a rebuke to the art market, but in fact simply doubled the piece’s value.

But as of this week, Banksy has officially gone into business. A new installation of his work, unveiled on Tuesday, features a storefront filled with branded merchandise. Although Banksy has exhibited his works in storefront installations before, this is the first time that the items are for sale. All of the products will go on sale online in a couple of weeks with prices starting at £10. Gross Domestic Product, which is located in a disused carpet shop in the south London borough of Croydon, includes old and new works by the artist including the iconic stab vest worn by the grime artist Stormzy at Glastonbury last year…

Playing on the double meaning of “gross,” Banksy’s store stocks various disturbing and unsavoury items, such as a rug made from the skin of Tony the Tiger, who has died of diabetes after eating too much Frosted Flakes cereal. A label, written in Banksy’s characteristically irreverent tone, explains that “the floor covering makes quite the conversation piece — especially if the conversation centres around the UK spending over £7.8 million a year on tooth extractions for the under 5s.”

3.8 Million Years Later…

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Behold humankind’s most primitive man. h/t Naomi.


Skull of humankind’s oldest-known ancestor unearthed
Associated Press
August 29, 2019

NEW YORK — A fossil from Ethiopia is letting scientists look millions of years into our evolutionary history — and they see a face peering back.

The find, from 3.8 million years ago, reveals the face for a presumed ancestor of the species famously represented by Lucy, the celebrated Ethiopian partial skeleton found in 1974.

Read the whole (real) article here.

Stephen Barnwell’s Outrageous and Exquisite Moneyart on Exhibit Through September 8

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Congratulations to artist, activist Stephen Barnwell whose “Capital Offenses” moneyart will be on display at Monmouth Museum, 765 Newman Springs Road, Lincroft, NJ, as part of the NJ Emerging Artists Series, now through September 8, 2019.

Lawless John Law Revealed

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John Law, co-editor of Tales of the San Francisco Cacophony Society, is a pioneering adventurer who defies gravity and the status quo. From the Suicide Club to Burning Man to the Billboard Liberation Front to the Cacophony Society and beyond, John is a true inspiration to artists and activists. He’s also a helluva driver. I’m glad to call him a friend. His one-man show “SIGNMAN: John Law” is at the Pro Arts Gallery in Oakland until August 24.


John Law, iconic Bay Area prankster, now has his own ‘art’ show
by Angela Hill
Mercury News
July 5, 2019

A famed Bay Area prankster and underground artist just got his first exhibit

Here’s the way one of John Law’s longtime cohorts describes an early encounter with the neon artist/prankster/culture jammer/urban adventurer/enigma:

It was 1982 and Mark Pauline got a phone call from Law saying he had a bunch of body parts in the refrigerator at his house and they had to get them out of there before the cops came. “Sure enough, he had a big plastic bag full of human body parts, preserved in formaldehyde,” says Pauline, director of performance art group Survival Research Labs (known for building things that spew fire and blow stuff up).

“John was in the Cacophony Society and those guys would go in abandoned buildings and do adventures,” Pauline says. “They’d gone into an abandoned mortuary college and found all these body parts left in these tubs there, so they took ‘em.”

Frankenstein-style, for another pal to tattoo and display in a big Lexan case which hung around for a while and eventually cracked and rats got in and ate all the skin. But that’s a story for another day.

“That is one of my hundreds of John Law tales,” Pauline says. “At least one we can talk about in public.”

Indeed, if you add up all the pranks and adventures and happenings Law’s been part of over the decades, it becomes a cacophonous calculus, an astronomical amalgamation of mischief in the Bay Area’s underground arts scene.

Now, Law has gone above ground for his first art show, “SIGNMAN: John Law,” a retrospective of his four-plus decades of devilish deeds, on view at Pro Arts Gallery in downtown Oakland through Aug. 24. All this despite the fact that he doesn’t really consider himself an artist and uses air quotes whenever he talks about his “work.”

So who is this man? Culture jammer? Gentleman joker? Prankster with a purpose?

“I’m an unindicted co-conspirator,” he says, a sly smile curling above his silver goatee. “But I guess I’m an artist now, since I have an art show.”

Read more…

JR Brings the Immigrants’ Plight to Ellis Island

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Artist JR has augmented his earlier haunting installation of immigrant photos pasted in the derelict Ellis Island Immigrant Hospital with new photos pasted on the outside of the building. This time, he altered the faces of the 19th and 20th century migrants to the faces of current day Syrian immigrants he had photographed in a refugee camp in Jordan. Asked what the project’s commissioners thought of this unsanctioned transformation, he said, “No one noticed.”


Artist’s hidden message on Ellis Island
by Brit McCandless Farmer
CBS News
July 07, 2019

The street artist JR has brought his trademark oversized photographs to an abandoned immigrants’ hospital, but there’s more than meets the eye

The building is derelict. On the walls, paint peels, illuminated only by what sunlight peeks through the grimy windows. Time has worn the floors. The filing cabinets, covered in dirt and dust, have been sitting empty for decades. Rust peppers the metal lockers.

But turn a corner, and see something remarkable: A group of men, dressed in fine hats and overcoats, appears to ascend the stairs. The sound of the wooden steps creaking under their weight is almost audible. Close a shabby door, and a young girl stares back, her hands folded calmly in front of her. In another vacant room, a family of three gazes out the window. Over their shoulders rises the Statue of Liberty, the symbol of a new life just out of reach.

These black-and-white photographs feature some of the 12 million immigrants who passed through New York Harbor from the late 19th century to the mid-20th century. They’re part of an installation by French street artist JR, who blew them up to life-size and pasted them in the former Ellis Island Immigrant Hospital, where they bring new life to the abandoned building. He also used photos of doctors and nurses who worked at the hospital.

Read more about this second phase of the project

r/Place: Recollections of a Pop-up Online Subculture

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r/Place, an incredible 2017 reddit experiment with a simple premise and strict parameters, stands out for the spirit of challenge and community it ignited. It brought the best of collaborative street art into the heart of the digital realm, it earned its place in the annals of internet culture, and it’s worth revisiting and remembering. Here’s how it went down, through the eyes of one very engaged participant.

(If you’re unfamiliar with reddit, here’s a pretty good primer.)


“The story of r/Place. As told by a foot soldier for r/Mexico.”
By Arturo Gutierrez
ART + Marketing
April 3, 2017

I’m sure other historians can tell you who was the first. Others much more knowledgeable than me who can pinpoint where exactly in the vast Canvas did the cursors of hundreds aimed themselves into a singular area, and willed order out of the chaos. But I’m not the one to tell.

Instead, what I saw as a bystander that April 1st was the emergence of life, color, and memes of all sizes and kinds growing almost by magic. And as the hours passed, as I laid a pixel here, waited, and laid another pixel there, the whole Canvas evolved and grew between each of my visits. It was an amazing sight to behold. An inspiring feat of human ingenuity, humor, and improvised politics in slow motion.

Yes, that’s right. For even in these early hours, even before the dedicated subreddits, the forums, Discord channels and massive bot armies of the later days, a silent, wordless body of politics was being established right before our eyes. Read more.