Blog Posts

And From a Tiny Acorn…

posted by
Filed under: Art Pranks, Creative Activism, Culture Jamming and Reality Hacking, Parody, Political Pranks, Prank News, Pranksters, Satire

There’s no greater pleasure than watching something grow. This time from seeds to art.


Sowing Discord at Minnesota’s Seed Art Competition, by Isabella Segalovich, Hyperallergic, September 5, 2023

At the Minnesota State Fair, some crop artists promoted timely political messages with corn, quinoa, and flax seeds.

SAINT PAUL, Minn. — The longest line at the second biggest state fair in the United States wasn’t for the prize cows, roller coaster rides, or various deep-fried foods served on a stick: It was for the seed art.

The wait was worth it. Past scores of vintage seed sacks and neatly stacked corn cobs vying for Best of Show ribbons, visitors craned their necks to marvel at the bounty of intricate mosaics made completely out of seeds at the Minnesota State Fair, which ran from August 24 to September 4. While the vast majority of participating crop artists were Minnesotans, the country’s only state fair seed art competition has also graciously expanded its dozens of categories to include out-of-state competitors, as long as they stick to one rule: Every seed must be grown in Minnesota.

I was struck not just by this craft’s painstaking nature but also by the diversity of its subject matter, which ranges from impressive portraits and still lifes to timely pop culture references and biting political commentary. This year’s show included tributes to lost luminaries (Judy Heumann, Paul Reubens aka Pee Wee Herman), hot pink Barbie memorabilia, OceanGate (“the little sub that couldn’t”), excitement over Minnesota’s marijuana legalization, displays of support for trans youth and adults, clap backs to Ron DeSantis (“Minnesota, where woke goes to bloom!”), and lots and lots of yacht-smashing orcas. Read the rest of the article here.

If Your Medical Bills Make You Sick, Sell Them.

posted by
Filed under: Art Pranks, Creative Activism, Media Pranks, Political Pranks, Prank News, Pranksters, The Prank as Art

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.

Better Than Breaking Your Ankle in a Pothole

posted by
Filed under: Creative Activism, Culture Jamming and Reality Hacking, Political Pranks, Prank News, Pranksters

Chicago Artist Jim Bachor has a solution for road maintenance.


Artist Who Filled New York Pothole with Trump’s Face Sees Artwork Removed by City
by Zachary Small
hyperallergic.com
August 8, 2018

Some people have a face for movies. Others have a face for potholes.

In Chicago, Jim Bachor is known for beautifying the city’s dilapidated streets by filling its concrete craters with beautifully crafted mosaics of flower bouquets. There, passersby are so enthusiastic about Bachor’s street art that he has all but gained official approval from authorities to continue his work. In 2014, the city’s Transportation Department even told the Chicago Tribune that “Mr. Bachor and his art are proof that even the coldest, harshest winter can not darken the spirits of Chicagoans.”

images by Jim Bachor

But Chicago is not New York. Our streets are danker. Our potholes are bigger. And our Department of Transportation is crueler. (Shout out to the MTA!) Appropriately, then, Bachor decided to debut a new series of mosaics for this concrete bunghole where dreams are made up called “Vermin of New York.” The compilation includes dead rats, cockroaches, and pigeons — oh! — and President Donald Trump’s face.

image by Jim Bachor

“I assume most New Yorkers hate him,” Bachor replied to Hyperallergic’s request for comment.

Some people have a face for movies. Some people have a face for television. some people have a face for radio. Others, apparently, have a face for potholes.

Speaking with the New York Post, Bachor added that “it could be seen in both ways — one that you’re honoring our president or that you get to drive over Trump.”

Read the rest of the article here.

Finger Painting

posted by
Filed under: Political Pranks, Prank News, Pranksters

A lot of finger pointing here…


Mobile art project gives middle finger to Hillary and Trump
by Oli Coleman
Page Six
April 30, 2018

“DEFIANCE” (Donald Trump) and “FAIR GAME” (Hillary Clinton) are each made from 4,000 hand-cast urethane middle fingers by artist Kevin Champeny. Courtesy Kevin Champeny

An artist is arranging a massive moving art installation in which two trucks will carry giant portraits of Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump around town made of thousands of rubber middle fingers pointing at each other.

Kevin Champeny’s mobile installation — the Clinton piece is called “Fair Game” and Trump’s is “Defiance” — also plays audio clips of the political rivals talking about each other via huge speakers.

With its 4,000 urethane fingers, the art will be parked from May 3 to May 6 at Union Square Park, Madison Square Park, Bryant Park, Times Square and Pier 94 — where Art New York is taking place.

Banksy Immortalizes Painting That Caused Artist Zehra Dogan’s Arrest & Imprisonment in Turkey

posted by
Filed under: Art Pranks, Creative Activism, Culture Jamming and Reality Hacking, Political Pranks, Prank News, Pranksters

Banksy’s new mural in collaboration with Borf, aka John Tsombikos, brings jailed Turkish artist Zehra Dogan’s work to New York.


New Banksy NYC mural supports jailed Turkish artist
by Janon Fisher
New York Daily News
March 17, 2018

The mysterious British graffiti artist Banksy created a 70-foot mural on the Houston Bowery Graffiti Wall showing Turkish artist Zehra Dogan trapped behind hashmarks. (FRANK FRANKLIN II/AP)

Mysterious British graffiti artist Banksy can't stay away from the Big Apple.

After tagging the clock face on a West Village bank, he moved east Thursday, with a sidewalk to rooftop display drawing attention to the plight of a jailed artist.

The 70-foot mural on the Houston Bowery Graffiti Wall shows Turkish artist Zehra Dogan trapped behind a set of hashmarks meant to symbolize her prison bars.

Dogan was sentenced to nearly three years in jail for painting a the town of Nasybin laid waste by the Turkish after a battle with Kurdish forces.

She copied the photo from a newspaper then painted it in watercolor, adding Turkish flags to the scene, according to her publicist.

Dogan was arrested after she posted the image on social media.

The timing of the mural marks the one year anniversary of her incarceration.

Her watercolor stretches out across the top of the building where Banksy has painted his mural.

"I really feel for her. I've painted things much more worthy of a custodial sentence," Banksy told The New York Times in a statement.

R.I.P. Gustav Metzger

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

Gustav Metzger, a fiercely political artist, challenged and mocked consumerism and inspired several generations of creative “auto-destructivists”. He was 90 years old.


“Gustav Metzger, Pioneer of Auto-Destructive Art, Dies at 90”
by Mark Brown
The Guardian
March 1, 2017

Gustav Metzger, the inventor of auto-destructive art who spent a lifetime baffling, infuriating and thrilling audiences, as well as influencing generations of younger artists, has died aged 90.

A spokeswoman for the artist said he died at his home in London.

Metzger was born in Nuremberg to Polish-Jewish parents in 1926 and arrived with his brother in Britain on the Kindertransport in 1939. Much of his immediate family, including his parents, were murdered in the Holocaust.

He studied art in Cambridge, London, Antwerp and Oxford, and by the late 1950s was heavily involved in anti-capitalist and anti-consumerist movements, as well as the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament.

This political activism was the motivation for his auto-destructive art manifesto of 1959 – which he described "as a desperate last-minute subversive political weapon … an attack on the capitalist system … an attack also on art dealers and collectors who manipulate modern art for profit". Read more.


In Search of Political Art

posted by
Filed under: Creative Activism, Political Challenges, Political Pranks, The History of Pranks

Randy Kennedy explores the state of political art in search of the iconic images that previously captured people’s imaginations as we navigate another absurd political season.

Thanks Peter!


Political Art in a Fractious Election Year
by Randy Kennedy
The New York Times
July 17, 2016

“The Truth Booth” by the Brooklyn Bridge. The booth, by the Cause Collective, is heading to Cleveland for the Republican National Convention. Credit Ben Pettey

In 2008, when the artist Shepard Fairey created the graphically striking “Hope” portrait to support Barack Obama”™s presidential campaign, it seemed as if a rich tradition of American political imagery reaching back at least to the middle of the 20th century “” on posters, buttons, bumper stickers “” was still very much alive. The art critic Peter Schjeldahl called the “Hope” poster “epic poetry in an everyday tongue.”

Read the whole article here.


Inside the Center for Tactical Magic

by
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.


Stephen Barnwell’s Capital Offenses

posted by
Filed under: Creative Activism, Parody, Satire

From Antarctica Arts:


Capital-Offenses-200Capital Offenses is a new fine art monograph by Stephen Barnwell. Barnwell’s work often blurs the lines between political activism, humor, and observation. This first edition is a ten-year retrospective of his unique satirical prints.

As an artist, Barnwell considers no subject off-limits. He feels that political correctness and political extremism are destroying our national discourse. Using satire to explore controversial ideas and forbidden subjects, he subverts the language of power to criticize power.

stephenbarnwellart-425

Capital Offenses, published by Antarctica Arts, has a publication date of May 1, 2014.

Special Pre-release Offer:
The first 50 books of this first print run will be signed and hand-numbered by the artist.

Related links:

  • Artist Stephen Barnwell Designs Official OWS Protest Currency
  • Stephen Barnwell”™s Bailout for America
  • Top 9 Political Art Projects of 2010 from ArtThreat.net

    posted by
    Filed under: Creative Activism, Political Pranks

    9 amazing political art projects of 2010
    by Michael Lithgow
    ArtThreat.net
    December 10, 2010

    Nasty galleries, arrests, fast food, American imperialism, Olympic culture jamming, cyborgs and cute cartoons

    The star of “˜engaged art”™ is on the rise. The number of artists creating, performing, and exploring in the world of social and political reality is mushrooming. Or maybe that”™s the way it has always been, and new technologies are allowing us to do end-runs around gate-keeping curators and mainstream media. Either way, we are discovering whole worlds of politically engaged and celebrated artists that not so long ago would just as likely have been escorted from the hallowed houses of high art for disturbing the peace.

    Call it what you will “” engaged art, social practice, avant-garde, dialogical aesthetics, community art, public art, activist art, radical art “” audiences for the confounding, beautiful, horrible and hilarious kinds of symbolic dissidence these practices describe are growing. When Art Threat started three years ago there was only a few websites like us. Now there are dozens. This is a very good thing.

    A top 10 (or 9) list is a necessarily troubled compromise made up as it is by hierarchy and exclusion. On the up side it”™s like a map “” something to help navigate an increasingly complicated and at times overwhelming volume of cultural choices. So here”™s my map of people and organizations to watch for, some better known than others, but all involved in making art that gets under the skin and changes “” at least I hope it does “” in some undeniable way those who encounter it.

    Read the rest of this article here.

    Norm Magnusson’s Descent into the Political

    by
    Filed under: Culture Jamming and Reality Hacking

    Submitted by Norm Magnusson:


    Norm Magnusson exhibition at Bard College at Simon’s Rock
    “Descent into the Political”
    October, 19 – November 20, 2009

    How does it happen that an artist decides to create political art? What is the proper goal of political art? Does it even need a goal? What about art in general?

    This exhibition provides an answer to those questions and more as it tracks one artist’s career from his early days creating lovely paintings of animals to today, when his primary thrust is to create evocative public art pieces. For more information visit descentart.blogspot.com.

    evite-2a100-425

    Ron English to Screen “Abraham Obama”

    by
    Filed under: Culture Jamming and Reality Hacking, Political Pranks, Pranksters

    Ron English announces:


    The New York premiere of Abraham Obama
    Thursday, May 14, 2009, 8pm
    92YTribeca, 200 Hudson Street, New York City
    Artist Ron English will be there in person for post-screening Q&A.
    Director: Kevin Chapados. 54 min. 2008.

    billboard_obamaboston-425

    Abraham Obama is a humorous and provocative look at an unprecedented political art movement. Street artist Ron English gathers a crew of professional pranksters and hits the road on a grassroots campaign to make public art and promote Obama’s campaign for the Presidency. Abraham Obama takes us on an unforgettable ride as the stories of Ron English unfold alongside musicians and artists such as Shepard Fairey, Jack Medicine, David Choe, Sam Flores, Will.I.Am, Morgan Spurlock and many others.

    Director: Kevin Chapados. 54 min. 2008.
    Date & Time: Thu, May 14, 2009, 8:00pm
    Location: 92YTribeca Screening Room, 200 Hudson Street – Directions
    Code: T-MM5FM33-01
    Price: $12.00