Dr D is a perhaps the perfect street artist. His paste up works are epic in scale and they commandeer outdoor channels generally exploited for advertising or control, if they can advertise there, Dr D will hijack it. His guerrilla advertising talkeovers inject political truisms and subverted corporate messages into our consciousness. His needle sharp wit pops the balloon of up-your-own-surgically-sculpted derriere celebrity pomposity and mocks the self interested control assumed by authoritarian state bodies. That’s why I love him.
After an evening in Shoreditch, my late dash to the tube station was abruptly halted at the sight across the road of a very official looking warning sign which faced traffic up the very busy Shoreditch High Street. This enormous paper sign had evidently slowly detached itself from its host surface but even from across the road it was evident that was a pasted “pastiche”. The paste was still wet but a hunt for a stick or brush or any kind of implement to push the peeling paper back up into its intended position proved fruitless so holding up the paper myself, a passing kind young lady who didn’t run off with my phone when my back was turned took a photograph.
Dr D’s Curfew Zone spoofs the conventional “Congestion Zone” signs which fortify the “Central Zone” where traffic has to pay for the privilege of less vehicle strangled roads to allows for faster assaults on cyclists and pedestrians. That big threatening red letter C now stands for Curfew. Now Dr D brings it to our attention, doesn’t “Central Zone” sound quite sinister, used to be that all our districts had historical names, not designations that look like geographic Big Brother tags.
Dr D doesn’t rail against injustice by daubing screaming capitalised angry messages over official signage(*), he creates subverted adverts that use the same visuals and prose as corporate advertising, or he creates signs that look so much like the authority’s signs that we initially think they are. His witty distortions hit us with the realisation that actually, we are pretty damn close to the authority abusing its mandates and powers in exactly that way. Our new official Dr D designated Curfew Zone highlights the police powers to Stop And Search which can be exercised without reasonable suspicion so long as it has been approved by…..the police!
(* Maybe he does actually)
About the location, this is virtually the north eastern gateway to the City, London’s financial district. Dr D’s unilateral curfew denies ne’erdowells free access from 6pm until 7am but keeps the City open and safe during financial market opening hours. Guess whose benefit that might be for.
I am pretty sure that the last time I looked closely at this wall, which was only a few days ago, there wasn’t a wooden frame masquerading as an official billboard spot. Dr D, going that extra mile is applauded! Even if you didn’t do that framing… the accuracy of the reproduction and the scale of the spoof. This is how you get your message up on the public highway yourself, don’t wait for consent, don’t pay, just do it.
Dr d returned the next day and skilfully repaired the peeling paste up where your scribe failed miserably.
Taggers also left their mark, either they mistook this for new official signage or they were just asserting graff’s natural superior position over street art.
Representatives of Dr d have also confirmed that the frame is a fresh addition to the wall and that the piece also has relevance as a reaction to the response of authorities to the Charlie Hebdo atrocity or a housing issue, itself subject of a major march today from just up the road from this spot to City Hall.
To get the idea of the intelligence and concepts which have made Dr D’s street art stand out you can see a selection of pieces from down the years on this photo set here.
I also went to a Dr D show a few years ago in the unpromising location of a fully functioning open as usual Bethnal Green launderette which I wrote about here.