Thursday, July 08th, 2010 | Author: Jowy Romano
We’ve been following Poster Boy’s work since day one. Seeing his work in the subway was a major reason we felt the need to create this blog. When we heard about his book deal we were very excited—so excited, in fact, that we unknowingly announced the book before the publisher, Mark Batty. They were kind enough to send us an advance copy to talk about on Subway Art Blog.
The War of Art begins with a quote from Enter the Dragon: “The enemy only has images and illusions behind which he hides his true motives. Destroy the image and you break the enemy.”
Poster Boy wastes no time in acknowledging that the idea of a retrospective book for an artist that has been active for such a short time is absurd. He is also very forward about pointing out that this book is hypocritical because it contradicts the anti-authorship, anti-copyright, anti-consumerist ideas behind his work. He addresses all of this in the introduction: “this book is a part of the supposed medium rather than a retrospective on an artist that has been active for a meager two years.”
The book is divided into three sections; the first, called “Works on Vinyl,” is a collection of the works that made him famous: advertising alterations in the subway and beyond. It includes some work that appears on his flickr account but also a fair amount that does not. The original ads and the altered ads are juxtaposed on facing pages. This was an essential touch, because it fully illustrates the vast creativity that goes into his on-site mashup work.
A few of our favorites from this section include: a Pepsi ad that is altered to say “Corn Syrp” and a Snickers ad altered to say “Fuck the Post, Read Chompsky.” When the alterations are political, they are very strong; when they are lighthearted, they are very funny. They are also visually seamless. They remind you why he became so infamous doing this.
Poster Boy's tribute to Space Invader
Just when the vinyl section gets warmed up, it seems to end. The second section of the book is “Abetments,” a portion dedicated to collaborations with and tributes to other artists. Some of the street artists Poster Boy tips his hat to include: Space Invader, Decapitator, Princess Hijab, Katsu, Booker and Keith Haring. A number of the artist’s many collaborations with Aakash Nihalani also appear in this section.
The last portion of the book is reserved for Poster Boy’s exhibition work. Large scale pieces from shows at Art Basel, the Jajo Gallery and Eastern District are featured in this section. While it is interesting to see this side of PB’s work, it seems a bit out of place. The inclusion of this work makes the book feel closer to the retrospective it says it is not.
This section also includes selections from Poster Boy’s infamous MoMA advertising hit at Atlantic Avenue – Pacific Street. This is an important part of the artist’s work, but also seems out of place in the context of this book.
In general, this book is an effective showcase of the ephemeral work of one of the most interesting, creative artists we have covered on Subway Art Blog. Its main downfall is not including more of his work. There is certainly troves more of it on flickr that could have been used. Alas, this must be another side effect of putting a book out so early in one’s artistic career.
The War of Art will be available in August on Amazon or a on bookshelf in a commercial space near you.