Poster Boy

Poster Boy In London

Dog days of Summer suck and taking a family holiday at the end of August can involve compromise. For me the compromise became apparent a couple of weeks ago when an calling-all-art-knobs email arrived announcing a Poster Boy multi-location book launch, one leg of which would be at the Pure Evil Gallery, London.

Within minutes, a sceptical buddy mail arrived saying “oh yeah – Poster Boy…one dude…..four simultaneous launches around the world [ish, London and 3 in the US] …. does not compute”. Fuck that I thought and got back on the kite board (kinda – day 1 is body dragging)….I wasn’t going to be anywhere near so best not to dwell on the inconsistency.

Reacquainting myself over the past couple of days with what’s new and what’s forgotten in the London street galleries I was really surprised to find Pure Evil’s gallery resonating with irrefutable evidence of a continuing Poster Boy presence – books, beer and cut out paste ups strewn on the floor.

Before checking out the PVs tonight I found the end of Summer transformed by Poster Boy action on the London streets. No, I don’t know when these interventions happened other than it was today..I was there sometime before, I was there sometime after, here are before and after snaps.

Obviously this is plain simple billboard hijacking. Other than where the eyes are allowed to peek through, these pieces involve complete advert obliteration. The message here is simply political. Spending 5 minutes photographing the hijacked billboards gave sufficient time to absorb the impact this un-expected off-message message was having. Every passerby and every car driver was studying the anarchist assault.

Thanks to dastardly bastardly agency creatives discovering that mimicking street art has a powerful resonance with a certain trendy target audience, my quest over the past few years to discover more Cut-Up Collective work lurking behind, around and on top of public adverts has involved me looking at more street marketing campaigns than any ad exec could dream of. I’m pretty sure that wasn’t Cut-Up Collective’s intended effect!

I had thought, having never previously had direct contact with a Poster Boy environmental enhancement, that Poster Boy’s work was purely about advertising subversion, poster remixing with wit and generally an anti corporate propaganda theme. This may or may not be true, in a couple of years I will have finished reading the book, but Poster Boy’s London blitz is hugely political, a truly remarkable thrust from a dude whose country pulled out of its most recent/current/most public global fuck up only last week.

Poster Boy was arrested in an internationally publicised incident early in 2009, nabbed by covert police pouncing on an advertised private view of a Poster Boy art show. Poster Boy got sent down, or detained, or sent to bed early or something, yet the Poster Boy campaign actually intensified. It had both a windmill to tilt at AND a huge profile. Eventually, messages reached some critical nerve endings in some street art keyboard botherers and the question “if he’s inside, whose doing this schizz” was floated. Mainstream press speculated that the wrong guy had been arrested.

Although Graffoto believes these mysteries are best left mystique intact, it seems the answer was/is that Poster Boy is a multi-testicled beast and the authority had yanked its tail. Anyway, the gentleman in Pure Evil’s gallery tonight was without doubt in my mind the same guy in this famous youtube clip and he seemed to imply that Poster Boy is a collective.

Clip byTheKSkill

The book is a fundraising exercise to raise money for K.A.R.A .T.E – Kids Are Rallying Against The Empire – a legal defence fund for artists who may find themselves detained at The Man’s pleasure for changing the world without license or authority. When we look at custodial sentences handed down to visual environment enhancers then any funding to protect society from the stupid mistakes of its un-elected judiciary has to be a good thing.

Apart from funding a good cause, Poster Boy has a unique way of signing the books, if you look closely you might make out that he has whipped out his razor and incized through the frontispiece to reveal Poster Boy’s name on the page behind. Cool. Signed copies available Pure Evil Gallery, London and, I would guess, from Frost Gallery, NY; Carmichael Gallery LA and AE District Gallery, Miami.

copyright – whatever

The book is a photographic collection of the work of Poster Boy, including many before and after shots as well as the photographic inspiration and sources behind the ideas. The introduction nails it, don’t know who the author is but it says “This book is a piece of hypocrisy….Poster Boy’s high-minded rabble rousing is starting to reek of bullshit. After all, Poster Boy detests the media but wholly depends on it as a medium.”

This post doesn’t fall into that trap as Graffoto prides itself on being a large, not a medium.

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