Arts Post
Posted at 12:54 PM ET, 10/17/2011

Occupy’s most controversial art: Burning money, saints in suits

Just as the Occupy movement has inspired protest songs, political cartoons and parody, the visual and performance art that has emerged from the movement has mirrored the protest itself: A wry but earnest grass-roots response of frustration and hope.
(Courtesy Shepard Fairey - The Occupation Party)

In New York, the “No Comment” art exhibit, which closed yesterday, occupied the former J.P. Morgan building, across the street from the New York Stock Exchange. An art response organized by Loft in the Red Zone, “No Comment” exhibited everything from anti-capitalist paintings to protesters’ clever signs. Rolling Stone spoke with an artist who flew from Berlin to participate. Although many art bloggers praised the work and the spirit of community that emerged from the pop-up exhibit, Hyperallergic was critical of one display:

At one point a flag made of hundreds of real one dollar bills with burn holes was strung to the ceiling. Several visitors, many of them I recognized as protesters, began lighting the flag on fire as pieces of the bills melted off and smoldered on the floor. Considering that both Occupy Wall Street and Loft in the Red Zone were hoping to raise $5,000 that night to keep the exhibition space open, it was disturbing to watch all that money go to waste.

See more of the art from “No Comment” here:

Famous actors and musicians have taken their turns in Manhattan’s Zuccotti Park, but the first art celebrity to lend his name to Occupy is, naturally, Shepard Fairey. The artist behind the famous Obama “Hope” poster designed an invitation to Saturday’s Occupy Time Square event, featuring a portrait of a woman inspired by the Black Power movement.

Fairey’s “Hope” poster, which is now in the National Portrait Gallery’s collection, surely spurred the Occupy Web site to enlist graphic designers to make posters available for free download. In red and white, some of the works crib Fairey’s propaganda-inspired graphics, while others aim for a more abstract representation of Occupy.

(Emily S. - Courtesy of Occupy Together)

(Jimmy - Courtesy of Occupy Together)
Over in Occupy L.A., artist Saber has set up a protest flag divided into 64 panels of slogans inspired by Twitter hashtags associated with the protest, as well as slogans such as “Bail Out Skid Row,” and “Art Is Not a Crime.” The flag is on display on the southeast lawn of Los Angeles’s City Hall.

(Courtesy of Joel Richardson)
In Toronto, street artist Joel Richardson has painted an Occupy mural that uses religious iconography to depict Wall Street suits. Richardson exhibited his work in “No Comment,” as well. He had previously been paid $2,000 to paint a mural at the site of his current one, but the city buffed over the first mural because it was too controversial. You can see the evolution of the new mural on Richardson’s Flickr.

But the most homegrown and accessible form of art in Occupy will always be the humble hand-painted sign .


GALLERY: Click the image to view images of Occupy protests around the world.

By  |  12:54 PM ET, 10/17/2011

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