Obviously, that headline is misleading. And the above video is pretty messed up. But it’s pretty messed up inside the heads of Alex Jones’ viewers! Which brings us to… Inside the Crisis Actors Studio, hosted by James Lipton, a show based on things that far right conspiracy theorists actually believe. Admittedly, this is maybe an odd thing for me to post about, but I’ve been thinking about Inside the Crisis Actors Studio all week. Plus, although the video’s creators have chosen to remain anonymous, at least one of them has been covered on Vandalog before, and they’d be familiar to the street art/activism community.
No doubt that Inside the Crisis Actors Studio is disturbing. Four actors who were due to audition declined after reading the script. But it’s also rooted in a kind of truth, the truth that some people actually believe this stuff. The references that Lipton and “crisis actor” Mark Hannigan make are based on conspiracies that people Alex Jones and his fans actually subscribe to. Yes, seriously. If you’ve never before heard of the concept of a crisis actor, consider yourself lucky, but sheltered. Realizing that these conspiracies are out there starts to explain a little of why gun control is so difficult. Plus, it’s got me thinking about the media that I consume and the bubbles of odd beliefs and consumption that we all fall into. Inside the Crisis Actors Studio is some necessary but dark (very dark) comedy. Hopefully, more episodes are forthcoming.
Last month, The Grifters’Good Buy Boris and I sat down with Radio Slik to chat about graffiti and the internet (or, as Boris would call it, the “internetchki”). We all know that internet is changing the way culture is created and consumed. And of course applies to graffiti too. Performance is more important, styles cross borders faster than ever, and social media is essential. Viral Art is all about that shift, but it’s really Boris who is at the cutting edge of it as a practitioner and content creator. Just checkhisInstagram.
Excerpts of our conversations have been turned into a podcast. Have a listen:
Thanks to MU artspace in Eindhoven, the Netherlands and Radio Slik for putting together that podcast. Boris and I were in town together because MU and the EMOVES festival had invited us to town as part of MU’s #VIRALVANDALS exhibition (co-curated by Jasper van Es and Boris). More about that exhibition here.
As just about anyone reading Vandalog will know, Banksy has opened up a hotel in Bethlehem, Palestine. The Walled Off Hotel has “the worst view of any hotel in the world,” with rooms looking out onto the illegal separation wall that Israel has built in the West Bank.
When the project was first announced, I was eager to hop on the first flight available and spend a week in Palestine. After all, when Banksy says to show up somewhere, it’s a good idea to show up. But I was reminded that perhaps it was a bit silly to visit Bethlehem just because Banksy’s got some art up there. That was a fair point, and then a dozen other real-life considerations started to make the whole thing feel impractical. So, on a personal level, perhaps I’m living on a boring life and I’d just rather pay my rent on time than have a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
But on a broader level: That’s the whole question of the hotel, right? Should someone travel half way around the world to see a Banksy installation in Palestine? To what extent is going to The Walled Off Hotel “slum tourism” or its opposite (is there a phrase for visiting a country or a neighborhood for the sake of visiting a tourist attraction instead of experiencing the everyday of the place, like flying to the gated-off Mar-a-Lago and saying you’ve seen Palm Beach)? Is Banksy exploiting a situation or helping the local economy and bringing press attention to an under-reported and deeply-worrying situation?
I’m tempted to lean in Banksy’s favor here. He’s not an idiot. He knows that, as he’s done before, working in Palestine will give press attention to the situation there. He knows that people will fly to wherever he puts on a project (as I’ve done before). And, as is the case with so much of Banksy’s work, the question then becomes how the audiences reacts, and that’s largely on them. Which is why it was so encouraging when I saw a “review” of The Wall Off Hotel by my friend Doug from Fifth Wall TV. Check it out:
Well Doug, I couldn’t have said it better myself. I think that’s the way to experience The Walled Off Hotel. Actually, now you’ve made me want to visit again…
I just want to take a moment to applaud Tatyana Fazlalizadeh, Jessica Sabogal, and Melinda James for their When Women Disrupt tour, where Tatyana and Jessica traveled through California, Arizona, New Mexico installing a series of bold murals (with Melinda documenting the process). The tour wrapped up this week, and these three women pulled no punches in their work. Here’s some more about the tour from The Root:
This time around, the film stars the writers Avoid, Smells, and Wolftits playing alternative versions of themselves in a post-apocalyptic dreamworld. The trio, fueled by beer and weed, spend their days searching out the next spot to catch a tag and chasing traces of the God-like writer UFO. Other writers, mostly members of 907 crew or closely associated with the crew, make cameos too. But what makes Wastedland 2 a must-see is the immersive installation that accompanies some of the screenings, where Shirley and his team transform venues into mini-Wastedlands. Attendees get a film screening, plus an art exhibition to set the vibe.
As regular readers probablyknow, I recently curated an exhibition about the tools and strategies of graffiti for the Cantor Fitzgerald Gallery at Haverford College. ALL BIG LETTERS closed on Friday. The exhibition featured work from Adam VOID, Aric Kurzman, BLADE, Biancoshock, CURVE, DB Burkeman, Egg Shell Stickers, EKG, Evan Roth, FAUST, Fumakaka Crew, Jordan Seiler, Katherine “Luna Park” Lorimer, Lee George Quinones, Loiq, Martha Cooper, MOMO, NTEL, Smart Crew, Steve Weinik, stikman, and more. Before ALL BIG LETTERS fades into our rear view, I wanted to highlight two more bits of press about the show.
First, I spoke with Brooklyn Street Art’s Jaime Rojo and Steven Harrington for an interview on The Huffington Post. We spoke about curating an exhibition about graffiti for a general audience (and a gallery with an educational mission), the graffiti community’s skill at hacking tools and cityscapes, graffiti as a performance, and more.
Portlandia does it again. For their latest segment taking on the art world, Portlandia have Fred Armisen’s character convinced that he is Banksy. Watch what happens:
“Everything’s better, everywhere that we add the art.” Love it. Of course, there’s more than a grain of truth to this piece. Not only about the way that street art, by Banksy or by others, can increase property values and add a “cool factor” to a individual buildings or to entire neighborhoods, but the way that countlesspropertyownersadded (or perhaps occasionally found) sub-par street art to their buildings, only to call the local news and say, “Oh man, I think Banksy just painted on the side of my building! This is crazy. Get over here and do a story about my building!”
Then again, who wants to read, when you can watch a video that explains it all? CDH‘s latest installation, FAKESY, sums up everything that’s wrong with The Art of Banksy (the exhibition I mean, not Banksy’s art) and the art market in general. For the performance, CDH set up a stall selling fake Banksy art outside of the Melbourne exhibition. Watch what happens next…
Did you catch that? The part where CDH is told that he can’t be selling his Banksy forgeries because it’s not good for business at the Banksy exhibition… At least the exhibition organizers seem to be admitting that their gift shop is also full of forgeries. That’s progress, sort of.
Bless you, CDH, for perfectly capturing this ridiculousness.
Dr. D‘s latest project, a collaboration with Disobedient Films, takes his ad busting beyond billboards. Sly TV, a parody of the British satellite TV company Sky (a part of Rupert Murdoch’s media empire), is perhaps most visible as a series of wheatpastes in East London.
Sly TV has its own website, and Sly’s ad campaign extends from street art to digital advertising.
It’s amazing what kind of targeting powers digital advertisers have. For as little as $10, you can buy an ad on Facebook and narrow your audience so that it’s only seen by wealthy young British men who go to university and love classic rock. Or just about any other audience you can imagine. Similar thing on Google. Want to reach people thinking about buying a new car? You can buy ads that display when people search “how to buy a car.” What if you want to reach people who are thinking about Sky TV? You can buy ads that display when people search for “Sky TV,” “Sky News,” or “Sky box.” And that’s just what Dr. D and Disobedient Films did.
Now, if you search any of the above search terms, there’s a chance that an ad will appear for the Sly TV website. Here’s what that ad looks like:
Sly TV bought similar ads for Facebook. So, if you fit their target audience (English-speaking men who live in the UK), keep an eye out for Sly TV in your newsfeed.