Interview on “Charlie and the Agent Orange Factory”

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Why the crazy title on this work?

The title came to me as I thought of the human carnage in the Vietnam war and its last impacting on the civilian population.  The interplay of colors from intense orange to baby sea blue reminded of this climate as well.

What were the human after costs of the war? 

Obviously, one of the largest costs in terms of human life happened from the war itself with modern attack helicopters, bombing raids and on the ground troop actions.  One of the lasting results of the bombing raids was children born from mothers suffering the effects of Agent Orange.

What was Agent Orange?

Basically, the US Army requested chemical manufacturers a way to clear out the jungle so the army could fight a traditional tanks and troops battle like in WWII.  The Vietcong were very successful at making underground tunnels and just traveling with infantry only, which made their advances hidden to the complete US air domination.  Of course, this made over flights to see troops basically useless.  The US companies involved in these chemical agents were Dow Chemical, insecticide maker and Monsanto, the maker of Roundup.  Likely, Roundup is a child of the products used on the Vietnamese jungle and civilian population.

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To quote from Dow’s website: “We have a diverse portfolio of leading-edge insecticide, herbicide, fungicide and fumigant technologies for customers around the globe.”

To quote from Monsanto’s website: “Developed in 1974, Roundup brand agricultural herbicides continue to be a perfect fit with the vision of sustainable agriculture and environmental protection.”

How many were effected by their products during the war bombings?

The US air force dropped 20 million gallons of “Agent Orange” in Vietnam from 1962-71.  One of the first impacted were farmers, who had to abandon destroyed crop lands leading the Vietnamese cities to swell from 2.8M to 8M with 1.5M ending up in city slums.  Another impact were 500,000 birth defects from spraying. About 1M total people were disabled as a result of exposure.  Below you can see why it was called Agent Orange:

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The US government told the soldiers the chemicals were harmless to humans.  Of course, the handlers of the chemicals also had similiar health issues and miscarriages resulting from the exposure.  The Veteran’s Affairs only compensated 486 veterans for exposure out of 39,000 exposed or a little over 1 in 100.

How do we avoid such catastrophes in the future?

Unfortunately, governments will always stock chemical weapons.  One of the recent examples, was the US government selling Saddam Hussein WMD (ie. chemical weapons) in the 1980s to help in the war against Iran, who held US hostages one year.

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What was the impact in that war?

At least 1M killed in combat. From pure chemical weapons standpoint, 50 thousand Iranians suffered from the chemical weapons supplied by the US government.  Hence you could understand why the US is considered the Great Satan.

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Ironically, in the Gulf War II the US invaded Iraq to find WMD, but the weapons had decayed or been destroyed over time to prevent the US invasion.

 

Is this work available?

I sold the original, but you can get a print at http://fineartamerica.com/

 

Do you have a monthly newsletter?

Yes. I send about every 4-6 weeks at http://shawnshawn.co/Site/Contact

Interview of “I’m CEO… Bitch!” painting

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How did you come to paint it?

Well, one of the ex-employees of Facebook saw the painting of my “This… is… Google!” painting and wanted to commission me on to do a Facebook version.

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“This… is… Google!” painting

What is the Google work about?

I learned of the debate with Google senior ranks of the hacking against political rights activists into gmail accounts by the Chinese government.  Then Google decided to move its operations out of mainland China to Hong Kong site only to avoid having to censor their own users for the Chinese government.  I was floored by their decision to “do no evil” by sacrificing profits for good will.

Why did you use such a wild title?

As stated in the movie “Social Network” about the formation of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg had his first business cards actually printed with the text “I’m CEO bitch!”  I verified this account as well. It really captures the wild days of the foundation and honesty of Facebook in the face of rigidity of social preconceptions as well.

What exactly are Facebook Stories?

These are the amazing stories of how long lost relatives found each other on Facebook, people founded great organizations via Facebook and other amazing discoveries.  Its kind of a bragging rights site, but truly shows the amazing power of Facebook in people’s lives to make a difference for themselves and empower groups.

What are each of the scenes of Facebook about?

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In the F letter, we have Mark Zuckerberg, the CEO and face of the company founding.  There are conspiracies of the power of Facebook that people speculated about in its founding from DARPA to the CIA.

A and C Letter

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In the second letter of A, we have the battle in the internet of the new social media sites, competition and partners of Facebook.  The big one being Farmville game, which challenged Facebook’s patience at one point with all the invites.  Similarly, Candy Crush likely is testing the patience as well of current users.

In the C letter, we have the political rise of power using Facebook, namely in the historic campaign of Barack Obama in 2008 and the famous Hope Poster of Shephard Fairey.  Another important feature of Facebook and other social media was the impact in the Arab Spring with Time Magazine and the Protester cover image.

E Letter

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In the E letter, we have the mothers milking controversy of Facebook with mothers posting pictures of naked breast feeding.  There was an internal battle whether this violated the policy of Facebook with the users strongly influencing the decision to let them stay.  I playfully put in the corporate “Got Milk” ad campaign, since this is a competitor to mother’s milk.

B Letter

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In the B letter, we have one of the most popular Facebook web pages of South Park.  This cartoon in its self is very inflammatory testing society’s level of acceptance and hypocrisy.

O Letters

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In the first O letter, I took on the topic of breaking the barriers of hate via Facebook.  I posted an amazing ad by Benettonthat was pulled the same day it went up! The company was pressured by the Vatican itself to pull it.  It has the Pope kissing an Imam, which tears at the tenants of religious hate and the issue of religious views on LGBT relationships as well.  It is also a remake of an historical event of the USSR General Secretary Brezhnev kissing the Eastern German President at the time at 30th anniversary of Communism in East Germany in 1979.  Below is a Berlin Wall cynical painting in 1989 of that historic kiss.

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“My God help me survive this deadly love” painting

In the second O letter, we have the maps of the greatest users of Facebook pared with the countries of highest levels of censure against Facebook.

K Letter

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In the K letter, we have the initial beginnings of Facebook predecessors like Hot or Not and Facemash, which led to Mark Zuckerberg deciding to take the company to the next level.  Of course, you have to have the famous Like button as well included.

Is this work for sale?

No, the work is in a private collection currently.

 

Do you have a monthly newsletter?

Yes. I send about every 4-6 weeks at http://shawnshawn.co/Site/Contact

 

Interview of the Nite Owl

Originally posted by Street Art SF on March 11

ARTIST INTERVIEW: NITE OWL

By Street Art SF Team on March 11, 2013

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I guess the biggest influence hands down has been Dr. Seuss. The creativity of this guy and his working in the “fantastic” world have really been a source for me to draw from later on down the road.

When did you start making street art? What was it that got you started?
Well, after being on the streets for more years than i care to admit i stopped doing graffiti around 2000. I became a bit bored with it all and decided to take a break from the life and pursue other interests. Of course after a few years of inactivity I realized that i missed being out on the streets. Around 2006 i came back to the game but with a more focused artistic vision as opposed to just running around and dropping tags on the town.

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How did you come up with your name ?
Technically, i didn’t come up with that name. One of my clients nicknamed me the “Nite Owl” due to my habit of not answering his emails before 2am. I liked the name and just kind of ran with it. It fits me well, i’m a product of the 90′s rave scene –  i like staying up late, watching the sunrise and drinking dubious amounts of coffee.

Do you have an art and design background? If so can you elaborate a bit?
Yes, i have a design background. I have a couple of architecture degrees to fall back on if my art doesn’t do so well. In my spare time i design homes throughout California, but my main focus is in the Bay Area and San Diego. When i’m not painting owls i’m designing custom homes for people with elevated design sensibilities.

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What type of piece do you do?
I’m mostly known for my proficiency in the slap game, but i also do multi-plate stencil work, hand painted wheatpastes and i rock character based murals when there is wall space available.

What type of tools do you use?
Vinyl and hand drawn stickers (USPS and UPS slaps), Spray paint, Ink, pencil, X-acto blades – i’m not shouting out brand names since those companies don’t sponsor me.

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Where can your pieces be seen? Do you do walls, installations, trains, sidewalk pieces etc…
In the Bay Area, Tahoe, San Diego, NYC, umm, my slaps are everywhere. I tend to travel frequently. I have a few murals running in Oakland and some new walls in the works. I paint in the Lilac Alleys in San Francisco. You may have see some of the trucks I’ve painted rolling by during biz hours. I’ve hooked up with our local weekly paper and to customize a few of their boxes. Keep your eyes open, i have some cutty spots in the town and some cutty objects rolling around the streets daily. If you watch the local news there is a good chance of seeing my work there.

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Do you work by yourself or do you collaborate with others?
For the majority of my career i primarily worked solo, but over the past few years I’ve linked up with a few solid individuals in The Town that i’m always down to go out on the streets with or make art with. I guess this is where i shout out the homies: much respect to Onedr, Eddie Colla, Aura, Reggie Warlock, Filth Grime, Basic Lee, Saltr, Chris Micro and of course madd shouts to my dog, Chuwee. She’s been with me on about 90% of my solo missions. More shouts to The Others and the Chopsticks crew.

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Is there a specific message you’re trying to get across?
No, no real message for me. I try not to cloud my artwork with the serious stuff. If you’re reading something that I painted, then it’s more social commentary than it is art… If there is a message then it is up to you to delve into my works and pull it out of the images I’ve painted. I prefer to paint and let the colors i use assault your senses. While I don’t have a message I haven’t shied away from working with a few groups who have one. Most recently I did some artwork for the Justice for Alan Blueford Coalition and I was also behind some of the better artwork that graced the exterior of the Occupy Oakland bus.

Come to think of it I guess there is an intrinsic message in my actions…get off the couch and do something … fuck the establishment … the streets are ours.

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Where do you get your inspiration?
I’m inspired by day to day life. The constant struggle, the unanswered questions . . . just waking up and seeing the sunshine inspires me. I’m inspired by people who have had to deal with greater struggles than i have and continue to go on regardless.

What art / artist influenced you in your formative years ? Are there any now?
I guess the biggest influence hands down has been Dr. Suess. The creativity of this guy and his working in the “fantastic” world have really been a source for me to draw from later on down the road. While living on the East Coast i spent plenty of time strolling through the galleries and museums. The cubists. surrealists and the abstract expressionists have had the most impact on my art. It may not be evident, but it’s there in principle. Japanese manga, comic books and other people’s sketchbooks have always inspired me. The streets of NYC in my youth really played a huge part in my development.  As for artists out there now that influence me…first off, all my friends that i create with. I’m a huge fan of Murakami, Dalek, Kaws, Robots Will Kill, Dabs and Myla, Nychos . . . i could go on, but i won’t. Honestly, anyone who has been able to develop their own style and just straight rock it like nobody else can.

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Did you doodle as a child?
are you kidding me? I’m a chronic doodler. my parents bought me a new box of crayons weekly, and not because i was eating them. Yes, i doodled…i couldn’t stop and all these years later i still can’t ! I go through pens and markers like nobodies business.

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I am fascinated with the diversity of street artist. Some I have met work as full time creative artist by day and on the streets at night. Other artists have a 9-5 style job that is not artistic at all and street art is their creative outlet. What do you do day to day? Does your day job have anything to do with art? Is this a full time thing for you?

I think that is what is really cool about the whole graffiti / street art scene… there are no barriers to entry. Anyone can do it, you don’t have to be an artist to get up.  That’s also what sucks about it…you have people with zero talent going out there and making a mess of it all. There are a bunch of tags and images out there that are so lacking in style and thought that I personally want to buff them …

Anyway, back to the question . . . I’m a self employed designer / photographer / artist and I’ve been doing it on my own for over a decade now. While my work may be creative, the end product isn’t necessarily for me, so being on the streets is my own personal creative outlet.

I think it is interesting that you moved from photography to art. I wonder if photography changes the way you look at things and consequently your art?
well, i didn’t actually move from photography to art, it’s the reverse. I picked up photography shortly after college and I began to document the world that i saw around me.  Couple this with my travel to far off lands and then i really got into it. Photography definitely changes the way i looked at my art. It really taught me about how one’s eye perceives a piece and moves around that piece, hint, you never start by looking directly into the center of a piece. trust me…this probably explains why my subjects are never in the middle of a composition. Photography taught me about balance, borders and framing, and most importantly, how to make a static 2 dimensional piece into something dynamic that wants to leap off a page.

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Do you travel to do street art in different places or do you do street art when you travel ?
I travel for the sake of travel. I’m afflicted with wanderlust. Ever since my first trip to Europe I’ve been all about exploiting cheap airfares and friends in other time zones. When i travel i always have a stack of slaps, some pasters and a marker in my bag. I leave my mark in one way or another.

I’ve painted in other cities, but i really like painting at home more. I prefer a more intimate audience.  I really love it when little kids tell me they’ve seen my murals or posters. What’s the point of traveling to another country to paint when none of my peoples are going to be able to see it except via some shitty internet flick from someone’s cell phone ? I like the local fame, being a street name in Oakland is way more appealing than being an internet all-star collecting pointless “LIKES”.

That being said, if you’re down to fund my travel i’ll go paint anywhere if i can have some extra time to kick it and experience your city. I do make it a point to return to NYC twice a year minimum. San Diego a few times per year as well and i winter in Tahoe. I also make it a point to visit at least one new city per year…so yeah, I spread those slaps –  Nite Owl has wings !

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Do you have an upcoming project or show you want me to let people know about?
Yes, there are a few things going on in my world in the near future:
In April i’m taking part in a group show, The Elefunk Gallery, that is creating works in honor of Patti Astor’s book and experiences at the FUN Gallery back in the glorious 80′s. There is a gallery show at Loakal opening on April 5 and we are doing a wall jam with the artists involved. I’m working on a wall with Onedr, Ernest Doty, Griffin and Such from AZ. The Ex Vandal crew will be rocking the adjacent wall.The walls are being painted on April 27th with a closing show at Loakal that night. We’re also working on a secret “hotel” show for an upcoming Art Murmur /First Friday event. Next up, It’s a bit off in the distance, but we’re planning a 4 day,  back to back weekend jam for The Others at Chopsticks UAS in June 2013. It will coincide with the Oakland open studios – June 8, 9, 15 and 16. Don’t sleep on this one. Nite Owl, Onedr, Reggie Warlock, Basic Lee, Lisa Pisa, Chris Micro, Fem One and a few others will be displaying character based artworks alongside some sick local DJ talent. On the heels of that, The Others will also be doing a smaller show at Spice Monkey in downtown Oakland on July 6. Aside from that show you can typically find my work at Chopsticks Urban Art Space in East Oakland

Can’t get enough of Nite Owl? Check out his website and his photographs on Fatcap Follow him onfacebook or shop his online store

Do you have a monthly newsletter?

Yes. I send about every 4-6 weeks at http://shawnshawn.co/Site/Contact

Interview on “LA’s Most Wanted” painting

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So what inspired you to do this work?

Well, I stopped in to see the MOCA show on graffiti artist, which I thought would be great. The show was truly amazing showing the history of graffiti rising from tagging to block fill-ins to pieces. Before I saw the show though, the LAPD were literally swarming the exhibition to try to keep away other aspiring graffiti artists from being “inflicted” or some other paranoia. That’s when I realized how crazy the LAPD had become onto this new rising art form.

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So why did you choose Revok as the theme?

Well the LAPD actually went after REVOK, who was one of the head artists in the show. The weird thing is they arrested him over one of his legal murals, so I was floored that the LAPD had overstepped the boundaries. Additionally, the bond on the case was $320,000 or more than a serial killer bond!? How is painting on cement as bad as killing people.

So what does the right side say?

I did this in “graffiti” style. Since I don’t do graffiti, its not true to the style. However, in graffiti you can pay tributes to artists fallen in your own style or a close copy of their style. Originally, I was trying to copy one of REVOK’s masterpieces, but it proved too difficult to execute well. (He’s been painting for decades, so no surprise there). You can faintly make out the original outline beneath the final lettering.

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What is bombing in graffiti?

This is the attempt to literally bomb the area with as much of your tags or block fills as possible; to literally paint a huge section of the city. Sometimes if you can paint on every area in the city this becomes known as “city-wide”. On the subway, there was the attempt to do top-to-bottom, then whole cars and then whole trains!

Below is an outrageous crew doing a whole train during operating hours with people in the train. Totally illegal, but fun!

Why did LAPD get so extreme in their policing of graffiti?

Well, if you look at maybe 50% of graffiti is simply tagging and another 25% maybe in block fills, which to the untrained eye just look junky and fall into the “broken windows” theory. While only 25% of graffiti might be the really quality pieces that are obviously art.

Another problem is that police tend to see or label graffiti artists as gangs. They share a bit of the characteristics in that you have a crew and are only admitted after reaching a certain level of quality in your work, but they really are not into serious crime. Some artists do live on the edge, stealing their supplies, so there is a rough edge.

What is the “broken windows” theory?

It arose in the 1980s in New York City, which was one of the capitals of graffiti originally. There was a book written that said if one window was broken in a building, that would lead to more broken windows and eventually increase in crime as criminals felt “safe”. Graffiti was seen as falling into this category of creating more crime after it was placed, so hence the police priority in stopping any graffiti of happening at all under this theory.

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Do you think the police action was appropriate in NYC?

There are two sides to the story. On one side Mayor Guiliani’s reform of the police led to dramatic drop in the crime rate, so jobs came back to NYC and people felt “safe” to live there again.

On the other side, the NYC government completely wiped out the subway graffiti culture and hindered the development of the arts. At one point the artists tried to approach the city to just paint one car to see how the public would react, but the police completely did not accept this.

How do graffiti artist see themselves?

I am theorizing here (as I don’t do graffiti), but they see themselves as taking on the advertising world. The advertisers are free to put as many obnoxious ads in the public eye under “paid” space. The irony is that the space is really for all the public, but the government only allows Madison Avenue to dominate.

Further Links:

http://www.graffiti.org/faq/werwath/werwath.html

http://revok1.com/

http://www.policechiefmagazine.org/magazine/index.cfm?fuseaction=display_arch&article_id=667&issue_id=82005

http://www.moca.org/

 

Are any works available? 

Check my shop at https://www.etsy.com/shop/ShawNshawNart

 

Do you have a monthly newsletter?

Yes. I send about every 4-6 weeks at http://shawnshawn.co/Site/Contact

Review of Django Unchained

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What did you think of the movie?

The movie just grabs you right from the start with blowing away a slave trader at close range with a shot gun and goes from there. It definitely has a unique flavor of the old spaghetti western, but from a mythical black hero perspective set in historical restrictions.

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What do you think of Spike Lee’s refusal to see the movie?

He definitely is entitled to not see a movie as it brings a mythical quality to the serious subject of US slavery. I think though you really need to see a movie to honestly judge it or it is prejudicial by definition. Its almost as if Spike wants to live in his own reality and think no white man could possibly do slavery well in a mythical film. Spike Lee’s own words were, “American Slavery Was Not A Sergio Leone Spaghetti Western. It Was A Holocaust. My Ancestors Are Slaves. Stolen From Africa. I Will Honor Them.”

How was slavery handled here? Is this a disrespect to slavery?

I really enjoyed how it was depicted as a quite serious, dark angle to the reality of 230 years of slavery. If you never have seen Roots, this film really captures all the types of punishment, degradation and dehumanization of slavery. Tarantino covers a range from prostitution, wrestling slaves to the death like a cock fight, beaten to death, eaten to death and even castration. At the same time it shows the illusion of the slave owners seeing themselves as righteous. I would say that likely the slave owners would in general not have been quite as evil as the character played by Leonardo Dicaprio.

Did the script use the word “nigger” too much?

This is a total assault on your ears with maybe 100 + uses of the word. That being said, historically in that time frame it is likely accurate in its common use as it was a verbal technique at dehumanization to maintain slaves in the system. I think Tarantino could have spared us a bit of the language and just use the historical signs as he did for example with servant clothes. It does do a frontal assault to the fact that this word is white-washed out of any other spaghetti western with minimal display of slavery like it did not exist. Also, another point to make is that you hear that word still today used by racist, so the heavy use gets to the historical impact of the word on US culture even today. I just heard it several times by some racist kid on Call of Duty II, so it is relevant.

Is this the best Tarantino movie?

Well, it definitely is in the top 3 with Pulp Fiction and Inglorious Bastards. I think it is a great choice to redefine the spaghetti western in the true brutality of slavery which has been side-stepped in every other Western to-date.

Was there too much violence in the movie?

There definitely has a lot of classic Tarantino slaughter scenes, which directly contrast other high tension and suspense scenes. One of the best scenes is where Jamey Fox’s character rides with Reginald Hudlin as bounty hunters on the way to Candiland ranch. Jamie has to pretend to ignore other slaves plight as he is pretending to be a black slaver, which actually existed in the 1860s. There is a lot of tension with a spectacularly brutal scene of a slave’s death at a pack of dogs.

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What are the surprising roles in the film?

Yes, I loved the portrayal of Samuel L. Jackson as the head house slave. Wow! This just brings a new edge to how slavery was used by house slaves to dehumanize their fellow slaves, so they could enjoy the 2nd class citizenship in the big house.

Another amazing role is by Miriam Glover as Betina, the top prostitute, who cooly watches a fellow slave be fought to death while sipping a cocktail. These roles really get to the clutch of how slavery worked on several levels within society and trade-offs people made to make it up the ladder, so to say as a slave.

Another great angle that Tarantino exposes is the formation of the KKK in the movie. Here we see them struggle to harass the main characters in their first lynch mob. It is a fearful, then hilarious scene. It hits a major nerve.

Do you think Tarantino went too far with the castration scene?

It really encapsulates the key point in the plot, where the whites are avenging the slaughter of their fellow slave owner family. It also is key to see again the great scene with Samuel L. Jackson facing down Django again as the double-faced head house slave that ran the slave mansion system for the master.

 

Do you have a monthly newsletter?

Yes. I send about every 4-6 weeks at http://shawnshawn.co/Site/Contact

Interview on Don’t be a Square Daddio! paintings

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So what does the title mean exactly?

This is a play on words from the movie “Pulp Fiction” — the classic movie that set Tarantino up as the MUST act in movie director for actors. I wanted to connect the sense of Putin’s criminal behavior in a gangster way towards this punk rock band as well as a reference back to the Malevich’s famous square paintings in the Suprematism style.

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What inspired you to do a series on 3 paintings on Pussy Riot?

Well, I saw this legal case on the absurd charges of hooliganism and the outrageous name “Pussy Riot”. Once I looked into the case, I found they had caused no property damage, but merely made a fool of Putin and the head of the Orthodox church as corrupt leaders of Russia. I painted three to symbolize the three band members that were initially arrrested.

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If the paintings are on three women, why didn’t you paint portraits?

Originally, I had found the photos I was going to use, but kept delaying finishing the paintings. The current format is the stage right before adding the images to it. I really loved the idea of square painting reference to Malevich, which would have been much less obvious with the images inside the boxes. Malevich was celebrated in the Suprematist movement as the Soviets came to power. Later his extreme modernism was rejected by the party. Sadly, most of his works were confiscated by the CCCP party as extremist and bourgeois under the paranoia of Stalin. So in a way history is repeating itself as Putin’s grandfather was the cook of Lenin and Stalin, which Putin admired for strength of character.

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So why do you include the church in the paintings?

The obvious one is that it was the place of the “attacks” of hooligans. It was carefully chosen by the group to protest the lack of courage of the church to stand with protesters on Putin’s third term as president, which is close to illegality based on Russia’s own constitution. The church was heavily oppressed by the original CCCP government, which was only allowed freedom of religion after the fall of the communists. During the 1930s this church was even demolished by Stalin to crack down on religion. Now the church is rehabilitated by the post-communist leaders, but has said nothing about Putin gobbling up all the political power since his rise. I personally find it shameful to have a power that could stand up to Putinism, but does not take a stand for freedom.

What do you take of Pussy Riot rejecting the material support in their cause? They were quoted as saying:

“We’re flattered, of course, that Madonna and Björk have offered to perform with us. But the only performances we’ll participate in are illegal ones. We refuse to perform as part of the capitalist system, at concerts where they sell tickets.”

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I think its consistent with their message of pure protest and hard core nature. They basically exist to bring the corruption down upon the leaders. If they did for a commercial band, they might lose some of their “street” image. Personally, I think they just want to overthrow Putin and a return of government reformation that started under CCCP political thaw from the 90s. Putin had his time and now is going too far to return back to authoritarism vs. true democracy that Russia had the chance to capture in the late 90s.

 

Are any works available? 

Check my shop at www.shawnshawn.co

 

Do you have a monthly newsletter?

Yes. I send about every 4-6 weeks at http://shawnshawn.co/Site/Contact