After a lot of asking, probing and following every lead I could possibly find, there is no sign of who the artist behind the Obama/Joker image could be.
Two LA street art gallery owners replied to my query and said they didn’t recognize the style at all and Andrew of Thinkspace told me that the pieces “are ‘up’ in two very safe spots” and that “the work resembles no one that is really gettin’ up down here.”
Then I turned to two renowned LA street art photographers and each offered an opinion:
PHOTOG 1: “I’m baffled by the ‘socialism’ posters myself. Nobody I know is taking credit for it and it’s out of character for all the known hoodlums”
Sebastian of UNURTH: “I’m afraid I don’t have any clues for you… I can say it’s not the style of any LA street artist that I know, so I would agree with the view in your post that it’s more likely a right-wing group rather than a street artist. I’m sure campaign strategists are poring over the Obama campaign to find tactics they can appropriate… the use of social media tools being one, and it wouldn’t surprise me if street art is another. But it looks like they couldn’t find a recognizable artist to do it!”
So there you have it, we’re all puzzled but considering the fact that no new street posters have emerged my hunch is that the poster is the job of a lobby group. One version of the poster (with another slogan) has popped on mailboxes in one Florida town, but this was all initiated as a publicity stunt/contest for a website [SEE BELOW].
The most saddening aspect of this case is that the LA Times has helped the lobbyists along and offered some ridiculously written articles/posts, specially by David Ng, who doesn’t seem to know what he is talking about.
In his post “Obama, Bush and the Joker: Cultural double standard?“, Ng deflects the issue of the provenance of the image and seems to suggest that because George W. Bush was caricatured as the Joker in an issue of Vanity Fair (which was actually a shitty illustration) that this is somehow parallel…which doesn’t make sense, an anonymous image possibly created & disseminated by a lobby group vs. a caricature by a named illustrator in a periodical known for creating controversy? Then again, most of Ng’s arguments don’t make much sense.
The LA Times asked Obama/HOPE poster creator, Shepard Fairey for a response to the new Obama/Joker poster and he offered: “It’s not grammatically correct.” You’d think that someone who made a career from mixing signifiers (ahem…Andre the Giant with the words OBEY) wouldn’t be such a stickler for correct language usage. In other Shepard Fairey related news, the infamous vandal has added an anti-vandalism coating to his studio walls. I like Gawker’s response to this, “Vandalize Him Now.” Having said this, I’m off to Boston this weekend to see the Fairey show at the ICA
Other related news:
- Rush Limbaugh Flunks Graphic Design 101 (LA Times‘ Culture Monster)
- Vandal Shepard Fairey Fights Back Against Vandalism (Animal)
- Obama as Joker: Selective Outrage From LA Weekly (Big Hollywood)
- Vicious Right Turn: Obama A Joker? Dead Heath Ledger? Vampire? …Or Just Wingnut’s Enigma? (BAGnewsNotes)
How about this theory? Even though I dismissed it above, was it really all the work of Infowars.com? A cheap publicity stunt to popularize the idea that there is no difference between the two parties and a way to give the website a giant traffic spike?
The site has released a new poster of George W Bush with the same Joker white face and the words Fascist underneath (though not Fascism, the Obama poster had Socialism and NOT Socialist). The website’s politics also has some obvious political affinities to the poster spotted in Jersey City I blogged about yesterday. But I have to admit that the Bush poster doesn’t seem as successful as the Obama version. While it’s possible that they are the work of the same person….anyway, there is no definitive answer….yet….
Thank you to Sebastian of Unurth in LA, who sent me the photo on the far left of the Obama poster with Infowars.com babble superimposed ontop. Click on the image for a larger version.