K-Guy put out the above “carpet bomb” last week at Occupy London, which is taking near the London Stock Exchange. While Nolionsinengland has some nice things to say about K-Guy and the piece over on Graffoto, I’ve got a major problem with it. Is the “carpet bombing” idea a bit funny upon first hearing it? Yeah, I guess. Is K-Guy’s pun worthy of being on a protest sign? Sure. I like it. But there’s a funny story about how I hear about this piece… The above image was emailed to me by the woman doing PR for K-Guy’s upcoming solo show at London West Bank Gallery in the hopes that I would post about this piece and, in the process, also mention that K-Guy just happens to have a show coming up next month where he will be trying to sell a lot of artwork in a short amount of time.
In the past, I’ve defended the practice of street artists getting up in order to build hype for a show, so long as the work isn’t overtly advertising a show (such as putting the gallery name and date of the opening on a poster). Particularly when an artist isn’t from the city where the show is being held, it’s a way to get their artwork out on the street when it otherwise wouldn’t be there, regardless of any advertising angle. That’s not what happened here.
It seems like K-Guy has gone too far here. He has made what is (likely) a very temporary piece, put it right next to a legitimate protest about putting people over profits, and then used photographs of the protest and his artwork in order to immediately turn around and try to sell something. He is blatantly trying to make a buck off of these protestors, which seems to me to be quite disrespectful the Occupy movement, even if the spread of K-Guy’s image may potentially raise some awareness for Occupy London. For me, his PR campaign delegitimizes this piece by K-Guy, and it will likely make me think twice about any of his politically-charged work in the future. The whole incident reminds me a bit of this Levi’s ad.
Oh crud, I guess the PR machine worked anyway. Didn’t Warhol say something about not reading your press, but weighing it?
Photo courtesy of K-Guy