A few weeks ago I interviewed Poster Boy, a mash-up artist who uses the subway system as his medium and gallery space. After admitting to functioning as several different personas in the art world and citing Cindy Sherman as one of his influences, I was interested in learning more about how his economic/political experiences shape his practice. The more answers I’ve gotten, the more curious I’ve become…
This is Part Two of an earlier interview, posted here.
Do you see your poster art as a sort of territorial thing? I was reading an article about Christopher Wool, and obviously the history of street art/tagging/graffiti implies some sort of interest in claiming a space, but in the article, Glenn O’Brien writes, “I fuck this space up therefore I own it.” Are you driven by the same sentiment? And on that note, can you say anything else about your own relationship between being poor and doing these mash-ups? Do you see the subversion of corporate space a rejection of or response to poverty? Or was it merely a resource thing?
Territorial, yes and no. I don’t want the poster art to be territorial in the macho sense. It’s probably why I don’t sign any of them. I think fucking shit up is good. There is creation in destruction. I just want to reclaim the intellectual territory that the media has taken.
Your economic status determines your relationship to things and people. I’d like to think my work is a shot at the capitalist machine. I grew up with TV showing me all the things I should have and be. When I took a step back and realized that it’s impossible to live up to TV’s standards, I got angry. Then I got smart. Sometimes I feel like I’m in the movie Fight Club. So to answer the question(s): It’s both a rejection of capitalist dogma and a resource thing. Some people feel that there’s always a right tool for the job, but I know better.
You mention growing up poor, not having money to paint. Is this what inspired your desire to create art for the masses with no authorship/no copyright? Or is it a rejection of institution?
The mash-ups should serve as a lesson to people: artists don’t create art, the viewers do. There was a time when Duchamp made us look at things. Somehow the “art” scene helped us forget that.
I was surprised to read that you are influenced by Cindy Sherman. It’s from a perspective I’ve never seen before. You’ve created real-life versions of characters and developed them beyond imagery — in fact, beyond character. You’re a series of ghosts who leave only a trace of the production and none of its producers. It’s an interesting extension.
You’re right about developing the characters beyond imagery, but you’re wrong about them being ghosts. They’re just as real as any other artist. Unlike Poster Boy the other artists I’ve created have bios and real live people representing them. I create these characters/aliases/caricatures/archetypes then hire people to represent them at whatever venue. As long as no one knows they remain as real as any other artist. Baudrillard “told me” there’s no difference between reality and simulation. Think about how long it took people to realize what Andy Kaufman was doing. I’ve been influenced by many people. Most of the time I don’t know what people like Baudrillard are saying, but it doesn’t stop me from listening.