Posts Tagged ‘brandalism’

Sat drinking a cup of tea and cogitation starts as usual. I’ve been away from my blog for a long time.

I’m trying to reconcile how one of the main areas of growth in art in the last few years has been in what’s now been dubbed “Post-atrocity Art”, it’s got it’s own label, it’s become a thing and probably it’ll soon be an area of study – no doubt there’s a thesis there.
And it, Post-atrocity Art, has burgeoned, I almost said exploded but stopped myself, due to the prevalence of Social Media and everyone’s desire to display. The latest symbol is the painted symbol of the CND chicken-foot incorporating the Eiffel Tower.
There is a market and now a commodity for collective grief, is it grief? Is it a genuine wish to connect with others and show sympathy and unity through symbolism? Or is it something else? Is there vanity involved as well? There is a correlation to the Post-Diana reaction.

It’s probably worthy of research as a psycho-social phenomenon?

There is a saying: When I give to charity I am called a good citizen, when I ask why the charity is needed I am called a Communist.

I recently wrote about “The Business Of Charity” There are many institutions in our culture and society that, for me, highlight the depth of our dysfunctionality, dissonance and despair. These institutions express the shocking degree to which a social system of artificially-created human misery has been so successfully naturalised and absorbed that its universality, its ubiquity has been rendered invisible. They also reveal how we are, wittingly or unwittingly, complicit in hiding truth, and how depressingly limited our collective imagination is. One such institution in the UK is the annual national do-something-silly-for-charity-shenanigan. There are two primary charity-thons like this: Comic Relief and Children in Need. On both these occasions, Brits come together to dress up, do silly things, bake cakes, school children are cajoled into collecting money, buying this year’s specific branded item, etc… in order to raise money for the “poor and needy” at home and abroad. The fact that every year the poor and needy are still with us and that their poverty and need grows is NEVER questioned and is used merely to justify a redoubling of efforts and breaking last year’s “Record”!   Comic Relief is one of the UK’s largest overseas development charities. Its annual fund-raiser is; ‘Red Nose Day’, after the clown-inspired red noses that people all across the country wear. Alongside the money-raising fun and games of ordinary folk, the event is, inevitably, centred on celebrities and ‘big-hearted’ multi-national corporations. On Red Nose night, on TV last Friday, we are alternately entertained and then harrowed by comedians who travel among the world’s poorest to capture both their suffering and, of course, the hope that Comic Relief and our money bring. Big corporations – this year it seems to be PG Tips and Persil (Unilever-owned tea and washing powder brands – get in on the act, showing us how humane and generous they are, by pledging big money in return for us buying their products.

Sainsbury supermarket has monopoly on certain types of Red Nose Day items – the same supermarket that had a roll-up equating all homeless who were begging to heroin users… Banner photographed in its Ipswich store front window last Tuesday.

Your Kindness Can Kill banner, infers that giving money to the homeless will mean they spend it on over-dosing on Heroin!!!

Your Kindness Can Kill banner, infers that giving money to the homeless will mean they spend it on over-dosing on Heroin!!!

How can something so well-meaning, something that brings people together, something that has raised so many hundreds of millions of pounds for charity stir feelings of such anger and distress in me? I will answer this question by drawing on the work of Oscar Wilde, someone who understood precisely what charity constituted within capitalist society and who explained it with his characteristic eloquence. For Wilde, it was quite ‘inevitable’ that people who found themselves ‘surrounded by hideous poverty, by hideous ugliness, by hideous starvation’ would be ‘strongly moved by all this’. However, since, unfortunately, ‘the emotions of man are stirred more quickly than man’s intelligence’, ‘with admirable, though misdirected intentions, they very seriously and very sentimentally set themselves to the task of remedying the evils that they see. But their remedies do not cure the disease: they merely prolong it. Indeed, their remedies are part of the disease.’ Thus, Wilde saw charity as an institution that ‘degrades and demoralises’ and ‘creates a multitude of sins’. Comic Relief constitutes merely the most degenerate expression of the Spectacle-mediated, consumer-driven institution of contemporary charity. Not only does today’s ‘spectacle charity’ serve as the eternal sticking plaster over a gaping, festering social wound, it actually functions directly to sustain the system that injures us. First, spectacle charity does this by alleviating social pressure. Legitimate frustration and anger at blatant social injustice is channeled ‘productively’ into charitable activity. Second, spectacle charity serves to appease feelings of guilt among those who are, or at least feel, better off and luckier. It also tells those unlucky ones they should be grateful they’re not far worse off in some Third World urban slum. Third, spectacle charity reinforces capitalist social relations by asking us to help alleviate suffering by acting as consumers – buying cakes, red noses, corporate sponsors’ products. Fourth, spectacle charity serves to maintain the status quo by providing depoliticised depictions of human suffering. The political-economic root causes of, say, child poverty in the UK are not and cannot be confronted. Poverty is portrayed in technical terms as a mere lack of things: money, education, resources. Fifth, in this way, spectacle charity reinforces the status quo by reinforcing general thoughtlessness. ‘Don’t think, do!’ is the general message here.   In all these ways Comic Relief, and charity in general, does more harm than good by serving to maintain the status quo economically, socially, and culturally. Here is some evidence for these claims: When trying to find out where Comic Relief’s red noses were manufactured and what they were made from there is very little information. With regard to labour, that could be established was that Comic Relief had signed up, alongside other major charities and companies, to the ‘Ethical Trading Initiative’ (ETI) under which partner NGOs (non-government organisations) monitor the companies (presumably, predominantly in China) that manufacture their orders. I also found a mixed (albeit quite old) report on the ETI’s effects by Sussex University, found out that several major companies, including Boots, had subsequently left the ETI, and that Primark, the company whose Bangladeshi subcontractors were guilty of the Rana Plaza tragedy in which 1,129 people needlessly died, is an ETI member. With regard to the environment, I could find nothing except for the fact that red noses can be recycled at various outlets. Whether the conditions in these factories had improved under ETI or not is secondary to the telling fact that I was not able to establish where Comic Relief’s red noses were made. This tells us everything we need to know about the hidden, alienated nature of capitalist social relations and the institutions of commodified, spectacle charity within it. Comic Relief, an organisation dedicated to alleviating poverty, is largely blind to and reliant on the structure of class exploitation that creates this poverty. Thus, even if conditions are a little better in red nose factories, they are still exploitative. Why? (Here’s “the Great Money Trick” of The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists)… Because it is the human labour within these factories that generates the surplus value that allows Comic Relief to sell these things for a profit. If this was not the case, these red noses would simply be produced in the UK! In terms of the environment, I am none the wiser, but pessimistic, as to the ecological cost of mass-producing millions of plastic red noses. Over a century ago, Oscar Wilde was acutely aware of the perversity of charity: ‘It is immoral to use private property in order to alleviate the horrible evils that result from the institution of private property.’ His ultimate conclusion resounds to this day: ‘The proper aim is to try and reconstruct society on such a basis that poverty will be impossible.‘ The only thing that gives me heart on days like Red Nose Day is that people undoubtedly care. But, no amount of foolery or hard, cold cash will end poverty. Capitalism breeds it, capitalism needs it. The goal of socialists is to encourage well-meaning, big-hearted people (i.e. most people) to go beyond doing and take some time to explore and think about the root causes of a bleak situation. Instead of blindly Doing Something Funny For Money… Ask WHY this situation exists??? – especially in the fourth largest economy on the planet!   Ten years ago, the major charities in the UK came together under the banner of ‘Make Poverty History‘. Remember the white plastic wristbands? In the UK and beyond, poverty has increased in the past ten years! here’s a more radical and realistic thought… To make poverty history means to make charity history, and to make charity history we must make capitalism history!

Here is a glimpse into the psychotic mental state of marketing high-end housing in London – Redrow Homes / American Psycho mashup. A zone and demographic descended into a dystopian nightmare at the pinnacle of Capitalism and corporatism.

Redrow London Luxury Development Promo

The “Patrick Bateman” alternative voice-over


Enjoy the videos. Pick your jaw from the floor.

more words to follow…

I think there’s a deep psychological unease in this advert. A complete disconnect from what we associate with human civilisation.

It’s like someone watched Charlie Brooker’s Black Mirror and thought it was an aspirational Lifestyle Magazine documentary?

It’s a pinnacle of the Zonal cleansing of a metastasised London where a zone four property is for nuclear families with a Labrador that never barks, but here (this video) it’s the bank$ter Ground Zero…

A palette of steel, taupe, white and grey, cleansed of nature and the natural.

It’s fucking disturbed.

twit: ‪#‎AmericanPsycho‬ ‪#‎Redrow‬ ‪#‎BrandalismWetDream‬



From my facebook

Shit! WTF? Redrow, a luxury apartments London, have made this completely dystopic, American Psycho-esc advert for the new London they’re currently metastasizing all over the city. It’s 1 Commercial St, the one with the “Poor Door” where Class War have been demonstrating!

The protagonist lives in a world of almost continual night, with the hungry hollow eyes and dead affect of an Ayn Rand wet-dream: his world is constituted of chrome, glass, a palette of white-to-taupe, a spatter-pattern rug and one book, a single book, on graphic design. ‘Luxury’ is so often a code for this – double-glazed, polished steel, hermetically sealed in the back of a cab.

Our man does not have conversations, but stares out at the city from the fifteenth floor (he does a LOT of staring). The concept of conversation and interaction seems alien to him, though he is shown having a screaming argument; as you see from the inventoried shelves, he has a passion for objects and this is how he seems to treat women, as well. Flat-toned, void affect, social cancer in a suit: a model for London living.

There’s a curious honesty about it all: houses in the suburbs are still marketed for the smiling happy family, all oak tables and social coffee mornings (in zone 4, the dog never even barks, let alone bites!). In the central zones, having been cleared of many of their inconveniences (families, communities, “life”), now dead boxes are marketed to the single (wannabe singular) post-Thatcherite uber Tory who manages his violence only on a balance sheet, who wants to take life, pin it, and crush it behind plate glass.

Burn it down. Metaphorically of course… cunts

This is how police reacted to those anarchist posters

Posted 2 hours ago by Dina Rickman

This is an image taken yesterday of police cordoning off an anarchist poster in London.

The picture was taken on New Cross Road, Lewisham by PR professional Bobby Dean.


The poster in question is one of many designed by STRIKE! magazine that have cropped up around London and refers to police efforts to combat cannabis use in the area. It also features the slogan ACAB, which stands for all cops are bastards.

STRIKE! told they are not behind the posters being placed in advertising spaces around the London, but the magazine has linked to instructions for its followers on how to “interact” with advertising spaces on its social media accounts.

The Met police refused to comment on the images or on the posters, but Dean told he had first noticed the poster on his way to the shop, and saw the cordon around an hour later as he returned.

I was surprised to see that the police had gone as far as cordoning the poster site off and there were as many as five men hanging around – presumably wondering what to do about it. Thinking about the message of the poster, I sensed a bit of irony in the excessive resource being used to tackle the relatively trivial matter and tweeted about it. Later on in the day when I walked by again, it had been replaced.

The site is one of seven Clear Channel advertising spaces that had been tampered with across London. A spokesperson for Clear Channel told that all removals of the posters had been carried out by their own operations team rather than by police.



The mystery of how this poster ended up outside Scotland Yard



Black Friday, is peak abhorrent behaviour.

We look on with a mixture of disgust and voyeuristic pleasure at the ‘dregs’ of society battling it out for a pointless piece of shit bargain. A friend of mine pointed out the hypocrisy of “middle classes” judging the scrums from their armchairs (like myself).

“A question for those who were disgusted by peoples’ actions: What’s a more blatant example of rank consumerism – cramming into a supermarket in the middle of the night to get 70% of a vacuum OR cramming into a German Xmas Market stall on a Saturday and Sunday morning to pay £8 for a hotdog and £50 for an ornament your four year old could make at school for a fiver?”

There seems to be a Gladiatorial element to this, the rich watch on and tut and giggle as the plebs fight for the scraps, like the Cambodian pauper children paid to beat the hell out of each other for pennies. This doesn’t explain or excuse the vileness of Black Friday though.

The scenes across the UK show signs of a society that is sinking past the ability to make any common emotional connection on the basis of anything other than fetishisation, competition and ownership of objects. The, must have, society of the spectacle.


Instead of people working together to provide for each other, have a nice time and a festive season, our consumerist system has managed to bring us to its’ desired conclusion. We are not to feel sensible or rational any longer – we are to fight like dogs for pieces of trash that will never fill the emotional void, the Lacanian lack, in our lives – or ease the ever diminishing bank account.

We punch and kick each other to buy things we don’t need! with money we don’t have! for a festival we’ve long forgotten the meaning of if we ever knew in the first place!!!

Funnily enough up until the Victorian era, Christmas had little to do with presents, and it was deemed too pagan and too Catholic to celebrate for centuries after the Reformation.

Cynics are not wrong to suggest Christmas was a holiday built up in the Victorian era to sell picture cards, though thanks to Dickens it was given a charitable feel.

Dickens’ popularity re-introduced the ideas of festivity, gift giving and charity. So Christmas is a weird hotch potch festival, of northern European paganism, Catholic Christianity and Victorian charity and revival.

The only Black Friday I’d ever heard of was the last day of work when all the factories and industry clocked off early and everyone went binge drinking in the towns and the violence and wife beatings that followed gave the day it’s name!

Consumerism and inequality has always been at the heart of the modern Christmas as well, though – Christmas trees were introduced by the German/English Royal Family and copied by the populaces of the US and Europe and St Nicholas (Father Christmas) had his coat changed from green to red by Coca Cola’s advertising company!


For many, and definitely me, modern consumerism is just too much. Unlike the middle class arbiters of taste, I actually don’t have two pennies to rub together. Never have had much.

When I was married and working full time in R&D we were still up to our eyes in debt. For many people it won’t be a holiday. Most of us have to force ourselves through a mire of family politics, separated from children, ranking presents and a constant eye on the bank account.

For others it will be a lot worse, old people freezing through winter, deciding to heat or eat, women and children in sheltered homes, homeless people trying to find a place to sleep where they won’t be beaten up, or moved on by police and have their belongings confiscated.

The last two months (at least, probably three) was non-stop buy, buy, buy, like in someway it’s going to fill the gap that a genuine connection to other human beings might fill.

It is an old familiar trope, and we’ve all heard it before, whether we’re buying our German Xmas hotdog, or our shite ASDA widescreen TVs, we don’t seem any happier. And we certainly ain’t better off.

I don’t like the imported concept of Black Friday. I think it’s a shame that it’s a fad over here now. But I acknowledge – People feel poor. When things are cheap (especially before Xmas), they buy them. It’s a shame that we live in a society where we are defined by what we own,

It is easy and enjoyable to feel superior, and tut and scorn, but, let’s actually try and challenge the conditions that create this need and desire for cheap goods. We need to organise, not moralise.

I hear that there will be a push to organise for an austerity Christmas next year – BUY NOTHING, support strikes for the living wage, spread solidarity. Now that’s a Christmas I could enjoy!

Aubade 1977 - Philip Larkin

Aubade 1977 – Philip Larkin copyright, Ian Pritchard, Discordion

“Aubade” Philip Larkin, 1977

I work all day, and get half-drunk at night.
Waking at four to soundless dark,
I stare. In time the curtain-edges will grow light.

Till then I see what’s really always there:

Unresting death, a whole day nearer now,

Making all thought impossible but how
And where and when I shall myself die.

Arid interrogation: yet the dread

Of dying, and being dead,

Flashes afresh to hold and horrify.

The mind blanks at the glare. Not in remorse

—The good not done, the love not given, time

Torn off unused—nor wretchedly because

An only life can take so long to climb

Clear of its wrong beginnings, and may never

But at the total emptiness for ever,
The sure extinction that we travel to

And shall be lost in always. Not to be here, 

Not to be anywhere,

And soon; nothing more terrible, nothing more true.

This is a special way of being afraid

No trick dispels. Religion used to try,

That vast moth-eaten musical brocade

Created to pretend we never die,

And specious stuff that says No rational being

Can fear a thing it will not feel, not seeing

That this is what we fear—no sight, no sound,

No touch or taste or smell, nothing to think with,

Nothing to love or link with,

The anaesthetic from which none come round.

And so it stays just on the edge of vision,

A small unfocused blur, a standing chill

That slows each impulse down to indecision.

Most things may never happen: this one will,

And realisation of it rages out

In furnace-fear when we are caught without

People or drink. Courage is no good:

It means not scaring others. Being brave

Lets no one off the grave.

Death is no different whined at than withstood.

Slowly light strengthens, and the room takes shape.

It stands plain as a wardrobe, what we know,

Have always known, know that we can’t escape,

Yet can’t accept. One side will have to go.

Meanwhile telephones crouch, getting ready to ring

In locked-up offices, and all the uncaring

Intricate rented world begins to rouse.

The sky is white as clay, with no sun.

Work has to be done.

Postmen like doctors go from from house to house.



Obey - by Shepard Fairey, 1989

Obey – by Shepard Fairey, 1989




The OBEY sticker campaign can be explained as an experiment in Phenomenology. Heidegger describes Phenomenology as “the process of letting things manifest themselves.” Phenomenology attempts to enable people to see clearly something that is right before their eyes but obscured; things that are so taken for granted that they are muted by abstract observation.

The FIRST AIM OF PHENOMENOLOGY is to reawaken a sense of wonder about one’s environment. The OBEY sticker attempts to stimulate curiosity and bring people to question both the sticker and their relationship with their surroundings. Because people are not used to seeing advertisements or propaganda for which the product or motive is not obvious, frequent and novel encounters with the sticker provoke thought and possible frustration, nevertheless revitalizing the viewer’s perception and attention to detail. The sticker has no meaning but exists only to cause people to react, to contemplate and search for meaning in the sticker. Because OBEY has no actual meaning, the various reactions and interpretations of those who view it reflect their personality and the nature of their sensibilities.

Many people who are familiar with the sticker find the image itself amusing, recognizing it as nonsensical, and are able to derive straightforward visual pleasure without burdening themselves with an explanation. The PARANOID OR CONSERVATIVE VIEWER however may be confused by the sticker’s persistent presence and condemn it as an underground cult with subversive intentions. Many stickers have been peeled down by people who were annoyed by them, considering them an eye sore and an act of petty vandalism, which is ironic considering the number of commercial graphic images everyone in American society is assaulted with daily.

Another phenomenon the sticker has brought to light is the trendy and CONSPICUOUSLY CONSUMPTIVE nature of many members of society. For those who have been surrounded by the sticker, its familiarity and cultural resonance is comforting and owning a sticker provides a souvenir or keepsake, a memento. People have often demanded the sticker merely because they have seen it everywhere and possessing a sticker provides a sense of belonging. The Giant sticker seems mostly to be embraced by those who are (or at least want to seem to be) rebellious. Even though these people may not know the meaning of the sticker, they enjoy its slightly disruptive underground quality and wish to contribute to the furthering of its humorous and absurd presence which seems to somehow be antiestablishment/societal convention. Giant stickers are both embraced and rejected, the reason behind which, upon examination reflects the psyche of the viewer. Whether the reaction be positive or negative, the stickers existence is worthy as long as it causes people to consider the details and meanings of their surroundings. In the name of fun and observation.

Shepard Fairey, 1990


Red Pepper article – The Subvertising and Brandalism movement, taking back the streets!

The Subvert-ising and Br-andalism movement, taking back the streets!

From Glasgow to Brighton, the streets of the UK look a little different this Monday morning. Guerrilla install crews have swapped 365 adverts with artworks, creating the largest unauthorised advertising takeover in world history as part of the rapidly growing Brandalism campaign against the corporate take-over of public space.

{link to magazine has videos}