Shepard Fairey's "Damaged" Exhibit
Many of you in this country (the United States) will remember the iconic "Hope" poster made by Shepard Fairey in the run-up to the the 2008 election of Barak Obama. Side note, Fairey went through a ridiculous lawsuit regarding the use of this image.
Fairey has been around for a long time and a new documentary: "Obey Giant" officially hit Hulu last month featuring this profound yet troubled artist (and I use the word troubled loosely, I am also troubled but invigorated at working for justice). For a full picture of who this man is and what he stands for, I highly suggest watching the documentary. I have been a big fan of what Fairey stands for because he understands the myriad of problems that face our nation and the World at large. His angst is my angst. And when I had the good fortune to work with him by proxy on the Lonely Whale documentary - he really hit my radar.
(Me just hanging outside)
In Fairey's words: "Art has a way of calling to the surface things that have yet to be articulated in a conscious way."
We live in times that are not exact. We live in an upside down period marred with divisions that seem insurmountable. When Fairey began developing this current body of work, he knew that he wanted to use rips and tears in the art as a metaphor for the political division, media fragmentation, and general transgression that escalated during the last election cycle and has persisted ever since. To say that this is only a recent phenomena means you have been asleep. As most #woke people know - in recent times this has been 30-40 years in the making but also the patriarchal system set up in the Age of Pisces and for the past 2000+ years. If you believe in that sort of thing. I take it all with a pound of salt because there are so many factors that come to play. They also say that it is the Age of Aquarius and I am an Aquarian, so there's that to contend with and I'll take any cosmic advantage I can get! But I digress.
Fairey would go on to tackle a slew of topics including xenophobia, racial bias in policing and sentencing, the incompatible collision of capitalism and environmental responsibility, Wall Street corruption, media disintegration, corporate bribery of politicians, and sexism. This list is not an exhaustive one. Furthermore, the title of this exhibit isn't meant to be disheartening. Rather, as I have always harped upon, the first step is awareness. An honest assessment of the issues and how to solve the problems we face.
Art is part of the solution and it can inspire people to do more. Things are the way they are because too many people have become complacent. We accept the way things are and still complain about them. I brought this up to one of my sisters and she agreed and that very same day called her representatives on a myriad of topics. The power is in our hands - we just have to show up.
Ignorance and apathy are our biggest enemies as I see it and as Shepard sees it. He believes that art has the power to seduce, engage and even address the universal human condition in ways that create important conversations. I couldn't agree more. He decided to print the "The Damaged Times" because it would provide way more information bringing the likes of Henry Rollins, Naomi Klein, David Degraw, Gwynn Vitello, Evan Pricco, Simon Steinhardt, Victoria Yarnish, Fredrika Newton, and Arlene Mejorado to contribute to the conversation. You'll see quotes throughout this piece and these contributors are the source.
The art and processes are meant to be a reminder that we are not powerless and can catalyze empowerment and action. We have all the tools in our toolbox to learn, create and to make bold statements. These tools also can be used in nefarious ways to drive hate and jealousy, to spread disinformation and to distract us with gossip and petty grievances. Rise up!
In Fairey's words: "In this battle of scapegoating and alienating versus respecting and including, which direction will win? I know which side I'm on. When the status-quo has become anger and division, I think it is pretty punk rock to embrace humanity. Rust never sleeps, so overcoming injustice requires vigilance. We may be damaged, but we still have the ability to evolve and rise above!"
Fairey steeps his ideology and iconography in self-empowerment. With biting sarcasm verging on reverse psychology, he goads viewers, using the imperative “obey,” to take heed of the propagandists out to bend the world to their agendas.
Our for profit endeavors need to be steeped in authenticity. We have become a World that indelibly thinks money makes the World go round. One of the main reasons I love Steem and I love cryptocurrencies. We are wrestling this very idea back. DO you remember when one person could work from 9am to 5pm, Monday through Friday, and make enough money to support a family, get a nice house, nice car, solid social life, good schools, healthy food, affordable medical care, vacation time, retirement... the American Dream? Yeah, me neither.
Our way of life has been infected with a breakdown. I will let Henry Rollins take it from here:
"One of the most profound breakdowns in the West is that news outlets are now for-profit endeavors. Information is mixed with fearmongering, opinion and advertisement. One person's fact is another's fake news. By way of example, the current occupants of the White House have the most through-the-looking-glass relationship with truth that I have ever seen in American politics. They are DAMAGED people."
I have traveled to over 35 countries and counting, and every single person, to a certain extent is DAMAGED.
"SO what's the way forward? Not devolving. Realizing that our species is extraordinarily sensitive. Abraham Lincoln and any other lawyer of merit will tell you that words matter. You wish someone would be able to impress this upon the current US President. Actions matter. At this point, almost everything you do may very well impact someone else. You are DAMAGED. So am I. How we carry it determines everything that happens next. The future is what you're making right now."
Yo! Justice is callin' - you picking up??
"We need to stop waiting for disasters to wake up hard-core deniers."
"The race to the bottom is paved with good intentions, or at least pretty face. After all, ignorance is bliss, right?"
"We have to get over the evolutionary hangover of the repetitiously over-stimulated fear-based ego."
"We need to see the psychological cages for what they are. At the end of the day, we control our own thoughts. We control our own actions. It's time to exercise our free will. Are we part of the disease, or are we part of the cure?"
"What is needed in this moment is an effort to lift ourselves out of the mud of political and environmental irresponsibility in pursuit of harmony with each other and the planet."
"Justice is no longer blind. Too much power under current campaign finance structure yields the ability for corporations to manipulate politics. Campaign finance reform is essential to restoring democracy."
"Imagine if we could rise above to create a world of harmony, peace, and no war. What would that be like?"
"Damaged is an honest diagnosis, but diagnosis is the first step to recognizing and solving problems. Art can be part of the solution because it can inspire people to look at an issue they might otherwise ignore or reject."
'Immigration status is a social construct that perpetuates the idea of a 'second class citizen...' Who benefits from keeping Dreamers undocumented?"
"Freedom of the press is guaranteed only to those who own one."
"The truth is that freedom for people of color is threatened greatly by bias in policing, bias in media, and bias in sentencing in this country."
Do you think it any coincidence that liquor stores and gun shops are usually located in the poorest areas?
The exhibition is on for another few days so if you're in LA, I highly suggest checking it out.
All photos are my own unless otherwise stated.