Like the prize fighter, the consumer today is pummeled for the all-mighty dollar. Advertisements and product placements continually assault the senses from buses and billboards when you're out in public, or from watching television or reading a magazine at home.
They are The Advertisers and they are laughing at you. You, however, are forbidden to touch them. Trademarks, intellectual property rights and copyright law mean advertisers can say what they like wherever they like with total impunity.
It is the job of the artist, or everyone really, to fight back.
Any advert in a public space that gives you no choice whether you see it or not is yours. It's yours to take, re-arrange and re-use. You can do whatever you like with it. Asking for permission is like asking to keep a rock someone just threw at your head...They have re-arranged the world to put themselves in front of you. They never asked for your permission, don't even start asking for theirs.Culture-jamming we used to call it, back in the day. Like Banksy, Ron English is one of the artists currently working to subvert the images and messages we get from corporations paying to get them in front of us. Banksy has even professed an admiration for English's work.
I didn't know the grand opening of Allouche Gallery, on Spring Street in SoHo was an RSVP-only event, but I was lucky enough to sneak in during a time of chaos at the door. I just heard from our pop-artist pal Antoinette Johnson that one of the contributors, English was not to be missed.
English got his start as a street artist, appropriating billboards in Dallas in the 1980s. Eventually, he shifted some of his guerrilla art into the galleries, appropriating popular media images into his work.
The best of English's work at this show indeed worked hard to get us to rethink some received ideas. One piece, "Everlast" is a painting of a boxing glove, with the popular Everlast brand featured prominently, yet the glove itself appears as brain matter, an acerbic comment, and play on the word "everlast," on the willingness to let boxers beat themselves in a stupor for our entertainment, and for someone else's profit.
Here's a slideshow of some of their work. Click on the image to get details of each piece.