The Brandalism project, which saw 25 artists from 8 countries coming together for the biggest subvertising campaign in UK history, put up some pretty amazing street art. Over a five-day period, a team of “guerilla installers travelled to Manchester, Birmingham, Leeds, Bristol and London and put up artworks that seeks to confront the ad industry and take back our visual landscapes.”
Below are, in my opinion, the 5 best Brandalism street art works. Discussion is encouraged.
Artist: Bill Posters, install near a primary school in Manchester
A military bomb unit member (?) dangling a McDonald’s kiddy meal to Charlie Brown near a school. Sublime. But is Charlie Brown really that much of a symbol of global branding?
And a damned fine handle Bill Posters is. You know, subverting the whole “POST NO BILLS” threat. Lulz.
Artist: Kennard Phillips, install in Central London
No analysis needed.
Artist: Polyp “Earth Candle” Salford Gasworks, Greater Manchester
The world’s ecosystem melting or disintegrating, placed right near an energy center. Priceless. Polyp is known in the UK for his political cartoons.
According to Polyp:
”Apart from the obvious metaphor about burning a candle both ends, twice as bright = half as long etc, this was a reaction to the desperate and collectively suicidal plans to drill at the poles for oil… and of course the climate change driven melting of both. There’s a bit of ‘time running out’ meaning in a candle image as well?”
Artist: Robert Montgomery “Here Comes Everybody” install in Bristol
Firstly, I found the first billboard above in this campaign great because of it’s nod to James Joyce’s ”Finnegan’s Wake.” That is, the reoccuring theme of HCE in Joyce’s text as variously “Here Comes Everyone,” Humphrey Chimpden Earwicker, Howth Castle and Environs and it’s various other layered permutations.
Montgomery obviously knows his “Finnegan’s Wake” and saw how it could be applied to both the masses attending the Olympics and the massive unrest catalyzed in the Occupy movement. With the second billboard, he further appropriates Joyce’s HCE meme into a darkly poetic text.
Although I can’t prove that Montgomery was thinking along the following lines, I do find it interesting that he would choose HCE since in “Finnegan’s Wake,” Joyce was fixated on the cyclical nature of history. The rise and fall of history transmuted to the rise and fall of capitalism (branded on the face of the 2012 London Olympics) perhaps?
Then, of course, one can imagine the polyglottal associations between the Olympics’ many languages and those of “Finnegan’s Wake,” which may just be me superimposing my own associations of the book onto Montgomery’s work.
At any rate, I consider Montgomery’s work street art of the highest order. Joyce would be pleased.
Artist: Shift Delete “Rabbit Hole” install in East Manchester
Shift Delete’s work is notable because it utilizes space beyond the billboard. And the artist deserves props for the inclusion of Lewis Carroll’s cast of character’s in the work, for what is this heavily branded and advertisement-driven world but a rabbit hole? Or, as Lewis Carroll wrote, “Life, what is it but a dream?” Yes, an often nightmarish one of Baudrillardian proportions.
We all feel a little bit like Alice in this branded world, don’t we?