photo manipulation & text by nacrowe
SHEPARD FAIREY is a celebrated RHODE ISLAND SCHOOL OF DESIGN-trained GRAFFITI ARTIST / GRAPHIC DESIGNER best known for his "OBEY GIANT" urban guerrilla sticker/poster/stencil campaign and the ubiquitous "HOPE" icon he created in support of BARACK OBAMA's successful presidential campaign back in 2008. inspired by the likes ROBBIE CONAL, BARBARA KRUGER, MARCEL DUCHAMP, ROBERT RAUSCHENBERG and ANDY WARHOL, FAIREY ventured out with his EXPERIMENTAL CAMPAIGNS that often played with REPETITIVE MESSAGING and the general public's capacity to be influenced and manipulated by such.
the recent documentary OBEY GIANT: THE ART AND DISSENT OF SHEPARD FAIREY (HULU, 2017) is very much concerned with fleshing out and introducing the career of FAIREY to a general public that is seemingly unfamiliar with STREET ART and its misunderstood code of ethics, which are often the target of overzealous police departments. what comes across is the intent of his work, which is often POLITICALLY, CULTURALLY and SOCIALLY ACTIVIST in nature, and the inherent risk of utilizing forgotten derelict and abandoned building facades as his canvas. there is a transition of sorts from the "ANDRE THE GIANT HAS A POSSE" SOCIAL EXPERIMENTALISM phase to his reactionary BUSH-era visual screeds against the war in IRAQ to his more recent, constructive post-OBAMA that advocates on behalf of a whole host of causes he believes in and provides free visual graphic work for (including CLIMATE CHANGE, MARRIAGE EQUALITY, PRISON REFORM, IMMIGRANT RIGHTS, etc.). in essence FAIREY is a master of PROPAGANDA, but he uses his powers for good in that he creates omnipresent visuals that promote and support an immediately identifiable VALUE SYSTEM that promotes CORE HUMANISTIC BELIEFS in INCLUSIVITY, DIGNITY, INQUIRY and DIVERSITY.
i personally was unaware of FAIREY's legal challenges regarding the ASSOCIATED PRESS photograph he transformed into the famous "HOPE" icon. the fact that there were two images and he misremembered which one he utilized and thus made a string of bad choices to cover up that mistake. the documentary itself may be a mea culpa on his part as such apparently affected his CREDIBILITY and fundamentally questioned his HONESTY. in my mind the whole charade feels like corporate overreach. seems the ASSOCIATE PRESS was attempting to extract money and the ability to reach back and futilely attempt to control the ability of artists to transform what is essentially their INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY. feels equally ludicrous as the BOSTON police department arresting FAIREY on the opening night of his new showing at the prestigious INSTITUTE of CONTEMPORARY ART. what a bunch of schmucks. what i gained from those two misadventures is the cost of doing business as a famous GRAFFITI ARTIST. that is the risk you run playing along the edge of legality. not that im judging in the least.
OBEY GIANT: THE ART AND DISSENT OF SHEPARD FAIREY is an interesting career retrospective for a guy that is still young, only 52 as of 2022. as long as he isnt incarcerated, im very much looking forward to his creative work and international ADVOCACY CAMPAIGNS for years to come.
photo manipulation by nacrowe
i have to say, one of my key coping mechanisms throughout the who TRUMP ADMINISTRATION was listening to the POD SAVE AMERICA podcast. if you are not familiar with it, the podcast is basically several former OBAMA ADMINISTRATION staffers who share their insights into the mechanisms and insider baseball of AMERICAN politics. sounds wonky, and at times it can be, but it is these conversational podcasts are done with humor, honesty and a sense of duty in informing the electorate.
they also are not trying to hide the fact that they are all DEMOCRAT operatives who functioned at the highest echelons of power, so take that as you will. they acknowledge their bias and dont make attempts to shield their perspective. specifically, the panel is made up of former OBAMA ADMINISTRATION speechwriters JON FAVREAU and JON LOVETT, spokesperson TOMMY VIETOR and strategist DANIEL PFEIFFER. regular guests on the program include former DEPUTY NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISOR BEN RHODES and former DEPUTY CHIEF OF STAFF ALYSSA MASTROMONACO. behind the scenes there are also several prominent staffers as well so it very much feels like a family affair.
its funny, whenever i dip my toes into listening to sports commentary on radio or cable television i am keenly aware of what actual athletes (current and former) say. i always take that experience as being a deeper insight into the processes of preparation and execution that make up being a high-level athlete. same with politics to an extent. my experience of the TRUMP ADMINISTRATION consuming media was one where i felt constantly unrelentingly barraged with half-truths, misinformation and disinformation to such an extent that the ground seemed to shifting beneath me. i could feel myself being gaslighted since, much to my own chagrin, i am not sophisticated or have the intestinal fortitude to wade through all the shit. what i like about POD SAVE AMERICA is that you get a feel for how a functioning administration works. not a perfect one. not an idealized one. just the hard lessons made from making mistakes in the field. to me that is the value of listening to their podcast. you get a sense that there is a series of protocols and procedures and hierarchies and command structures and internal information gathering services created by well-intentioned, competent people attempting to make a positive difference.
i'm telling you, if there was a REPUBLICAN version of this, id listen to it immediately. no question. i find it even more intriguing to learn about processes that inform decisions i dont agree with. but this is all i have as most of the current conservative conversation online is beyond toxic and engulfed in a mindless cult of personality at the moment.
we will see what happens. there has to be some former BUSH or REAGAN officials that can pull this off. just saying. my only real criticism is how prominent the male presence is with the panel, but they are well aware of such and have numerous CROOKED MEDIA-branded affiliated podcasts by comedians and operatives that showcase the diversity and concerns of a wide and complex national electorate, including that of HYSTERIA and POD SAVE THE PEOPLE. i look forward to seeing where they take the program during the upcoming BIDEN ADMINISTRATION.