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Entries in defacement (9)



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Yesterday, prominent Egyptian-American journalist and activist, Mona Eltahawy, made a brave attempt to deface (or make a legitimate public comment upon) a controversial "anti-jihad" ad the Times Square subway station, got humorously harassed, then not so humorously arrested by some cops and at least one dog. 

Considering how intense the situation is (meaning protest speech, Arab-Israeli conflict etc, not that guy that used to hang at the Jersey Shore) it's a lot funnier than it seems like it would be. Thank god the New York Post was on hand to film the whole weird party scene (don't worry, the clip is below.)

Great quotes from the non-violent (and somewhat non-sensical) defacement video include …

… Mona, do you have a right to do this? - I do actually, I think this is freedom of expression …
… Tell me Mona, why do you have a right to violate free speech? - I'm not violating it, I'm making a statement on it …
… Do you want paint on yourself, do you really?…
… You are violating free speech Mona …
… Get off me or I'm going to get the police - go get the police, no one's stopping you - fuck you …
… Stop it Mona - I'm not going to stop it …
… Mona-Elta-Hawy, Mona-Elta-Hawy - Get my name right, my god you sound like a film, parody …
… You're under arrest - For what? What are you arresting me for? ...
… I'm expressing myself freely and I hurt no one, non-violent protest …
… You could get some spray paint in someone's eye …
… How old are you? - I'm 45 and I'm Egyptian-American and I refuse hate (off-camera; that's why) what do you mean that's why?

Ahh, such amazing gifts! We love how "Pamela" keeps calling "Mona" by her first name like this is some sort of cat fight in a weird protest-speech cult.

Oddly, the arresting officers will not even say out loud why she is being arrested, did anyone know NYC cops were such dicks? Finally they lamely claim that spray paint might get in someones eye? Do these guys not even know that vandalizing posters is illegal, my god officers, have you not seen our awesome book New York Dick, really.

And who is this woman "Pamela" who's blocking-photographing-antagonizing Mona? Apparently she is Pamela Hall, one of the amazing nut-jobs that helped bring to New York the bogus horror of the "Ground Zero Mosque," and she is associated with The American Freedom Defense Initiative who paid to post the offending ads. And, she apparently is also just hanging around the Times Square edition of the poster looking for a photo-op/confrontation. 

NYD sends a big thanks to all the key players for helping to keep defacement alive and keeping New York the dicky-est city in America (but not the dicky-est state, that of course is Arizona.)

For more detail check out The Guardian, or the Atlantic.



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A second insightful quote from one of the our most articulate and interesting street artists, Banksy. As the artist states in the book Wall and Piece:

The people who truly deface our neighborhoods are the companies that scrawl giant slogans across buildings and buses trying to make us feel inadequate unless we buy their stuff. They expect to be able to shout their message in your face from every available surface but you're never allowed to answer back. Well, they started the fight and the wall is the weapon of choice to hit them back.

The smug ease that characterizes the presentation of advertising messages truly begs for defacement. Clever, smart-ass or plain idiotic, all commenters and doodlers should feel free to enter a public dialog with our friends in the advertising biz, they love their own talk — they just assume that anyone who talks back won't be heard. 

Using mockery to interact with public sales pitches is a reasonable form of speech and a proportionate response to the pushiness and power of the ad biz, but exercise caution free-speachers, sometimes a reasonable response can get you disproportionately arrested. 



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Some people are not interested in explanations or excuses regarding graffiti defacements. We here at NYD are fine with simply presenting the scribbles and scrawls of New Yorkers without making much of a case for why they happen and why we like them (although our book New York Dick does feature some ramblings along those lines.) But for the sake of those who are unconvinced that advertising posters deserve what they get, we here present the first in a series of comments making the case for defacements. 

The street-culture-interaction artist known as Banksy, who produces moving and beloved work around the world, also produces excellent explanations of why we should feel free to modify the cooperate world's verbal and visual statements aimed at us. In the book Wall and Piece Banksy describes "Brandalism" and accounts for legitimate graphic responses to it:

Any advertisement in public space that gives you no choice whether you see it or not is yours. It belongs to you. It's yours to take, re-arrange and re-use. Asking for permission is like asking to keep the rock someone just threw at your head.

Though many of the poster defacers in NYC have not heard of Banksy they would probably agree with his comments. Their output is not always as clever as his, but their heart (or dick, or snarky remark) is in the right place, clearly in harmony with his philosophy of wholesome resistance to loathsome marketing.

NYD greatly appreciates the clear and compelling statements Banksy makes, whether stenciled on a wall or not, and we hope that creative confrontation with advertising continues to blanket subway posters. We also hope the defacers of NYC don't get too arty and abandon the graphic language of peckers, broken teeth and zombie eyes (probably no danger here.) Thanks for keepin' it real NYC, and thanks Banksy for keepin' it lucid.



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The above example of advertising in a fake real/gritty style shows that the circle of life for cultural memes is part snowball effect and part turd polishing effect. 

We at NYD love rude ad defacements including all flavors of beard and mustache mockery, but when the ad itself tries to yuck it up with us with canned defacements it's just smug and annoying. Like your uncle Herman showing you his mad beatboxing skills, it's not really an honest homage, he just sort of thinks you're an idiot. 

Ad agencies are always on the look-out for ways to "relate" to the "real" and "gritty" if they think that their market might be turned on by that. For more cleverness take a look at this ad tarted-up by a faux penis defacement, ahh the brilliance! To see a few examples of real mustache defacements (and get some info on the end of the career of "mustache man") take a look at this NYD site entry.



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Dick doodles (which are oh so silly when dashed off by drunk teenagers) are worthy of attention by serious collectors when whipped out by a penis scribbler with gallery cred. This is clearly seen in an exceptional work by Keith Haring, "Original Erect Penis Hand Drawing over Warhol Stamp " (this really is the title, love the accuracy!).

 As described at the terrific art auction site Zarts, "This great Keith Haring penis drawing is drawn with black sharpie over a small Andy Warhol ‘Flowers’ stamp. The stamp itself reads "The Estate and Foundation of Andy Warhol" and is dry-mounted on museum board. A great piece that combines two of the greatest Pop artists. As Haring rarely drew explicit images, this is much rarer than most."

Haring spent a lot of time making art in the NYC subway system, and to the art critics here at NYD it's obvious that he learned a great deal from the pecker on poster defacements so commonly seen there. Although we usually imagine Haring synthesizing the wild and rampant spray-can graffiti styles of the day, this tiny tool tag highlights how much he owes to the ubiquitous sharpie boner sketch.

Our thanks go out to Keith Haring, a great artist, a serious student of graffiti, and an obvious aficionado of New York dick.