Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Well done Cincinnati. Well done.

Once again, my hometown city of Cincinnati has done me proud. Cincinnati... home of race riots, and Mapplethorpe protests, and possibly racially motivated killings by police. The place so out-of-touch Mark Twain once quipped that if the world ended, he wanted to be in Cincinnati, because it wouldn't happen here for another 20 years.

Once again I'm super pumped to be from such an enlightened place.

The world renowned political artist Shepard Fairey is here in town. There will be a retrospective of his 20 years of work at the Cincinnati Contemporary Arts Center, and as a part of his show, he's been installing some of his political murals around the Cincinnati area.

This past weekend I had the opportunity to see one of his more controversial pieces up close and personal when he installed it directly across the street from the theater where I was directing A Piece of My Heart...

So there it is.

Clearly Shepard Fairey is a flaming racist. Right? Clearly by posting this mural containing the word "OBEY" in a predominantly African American neighborhood, he's trying to subjugate black people. Right?

Apparently there were a number of people who would agree with the above statements, because almost immediately after the mural was completed on May 20th, there were loads of people in the neighborhood threatening to deface it or paint over it, because they feel discriminated against somehow.

Oh... then there were the white people who apparently walked by and assumed the artist was black. They threatened to paint over it too. Because they didn't want to be the victims of reverse racism.

(For the record, Shepard Fairey is a 40 year old white man.)

Now... I spent a pretty good amount of time taking in this particular mural... I've searched and searched for a single anti-black image. I've searched for a single anti-WHITE image.

What I did see was images of peace (note the guns with the flowers). I saw commentary on the power of propaganda. I saw an ironic statement about listening to the masses instead of trusting our own eyes.

I really dug it.

Sadly, it's no more. The above image is what you'd see today if you drove past. Some fucking ignorant idiot painted over it last night. They don't know who did it. It was just as easily a white person as a black person. Just as easily a man as a woman. One thing we do know is that the person who did it is far more close-minded and foolish than the artist they believe they are silencing.

When the Tofu Muchacha told me about the painting-over, I found myself profoundly sad. It's so typical of this fucking town to knee jerk to this level. Then I come to find out that it's the SECOND of his murals to be defaced in the area in the past 2 weeks. I mean... GOD DAMNIT.

Please people... before you make fools of yourself by "protecting" the populace from this supposed racism, maybe you should look up the statements of the artist.... I dunno... crazy.

Oh... it should also be mentioned that aside from this horribly racist, anti-black mural, Shepard Fairey is also the artist responsible for the Barack Obama "HOPE" posted. What a bigot! Am I right?

Anyway, I don't want to go on and on. I just want to congratulate my city for embarrassing itself... yet again.

Kudos Cincinnati.

PS... I haven't even gone into the whole part about how the defacing of the mural is, in itself, a crime... you know... since the mural was on private property, and it itself has value due to the artist being a hugely famous dude. So... not only did the idiots miss the point. Not only did they kill art. They also will probably go to jail for it. Good protesting folks!


Tamia said...

Sigh. This whole incident makes me want to stand up and fight/give up and leave at the same time.

It also makes me wonder how many other messages, political or otherwise, have been "painted over" by people so wrapped up in their own perception of reality that they're unable or unwilling to understand what's truly being said. I wonder how much I've missed.


Dave said...

Great post! I'm glad you got to see the murals before they were defaced. Take heart, I'm sure Cincinnati isn't all that bad, you could be living in my neck of the woods!