Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Wanted: Big Brother buffoonery

Posted by Patrick Sharbaugh on Tue, May 8, 2007 at 4:01 PM

One of my favorite things about Charleston has always been the willingness of its artists to take subversive swipes at the establishment. Taggers, street artists, guerrilla designers, practical jokers, whatever you want to call them, they make things interesting. This, after all, is the city where Shephard Fairey, of OBEY fame, grew up and cut his satirical teeth. But with the 2007 festival just two and a half weeks away, I’ve yet to see or hear of a single underground, unofficial, unauthorized, or unsanctioned work of any kind that could present a needed commentary on the Oh So Very Establishment Spoleto and Piccolo Spoleto festivals. (Actually, I have heard of one.)

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I’m not giving up, though. Last year, not long after Spoleto revealed the festival’s official poster image — a merch-friendly watercolor of a heart — local printmaker and graphic artist Johnny Pundt revealed his own Spoleto poster parody. (Note the tagline at the bottom: “I’m Lovin’ It.” If that sounds like a comment on the hegemony of corporate-owned and sanctioned art — can anyone say “the Ginn Clubs & Resorts Spoleto Festival Orchestra”? — congratulations, you get a gold star.) The posters were plastered onto windows across the peninsula for all of 24 hours (in flagrant violation of the City’s draconian anti-sniping regulations) before Spoleto’s merch machine caught wind of the parody and swept the city clean of them. As I noted then, I bet that predictable response was as much a part of Pundt’s meta-commentary as the poster itself.

Won’t somebody step up and do something wrong? Don’t make me beg.

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