Friday, April 10, 2009

Links Undermining My Creativity

Recently, still unsure of what to call what I've tended to refer to as "my more performative pieces", I started looking up some of the words that were at the edges of my vocabulary - words that I had a sense might apply, but had no strict definition for - like "guerrilla art", "shopdropping", and "culture jamming" .

After doing some reading I've come to the conclusion that the most applicable word for my recent non-painting works is "shopdropping". The real discovery, though, was how little I've known about guerrilla art. I could probably have only named (0r pseudonymed) three or four guerrilla artists, and the only shopdropper I knew anything about was Banksy.

Turns out there is quite a vibrant and diverse world of transgressive art projects going on around us. Two sites I found particularly explore-worthy were and (which casts a much larger net than just guerrilla art, but has good "intro to" articles on many subsets of the genre).

While tooling around I came upon the work of Zoe Sheehan Saldana, and my stomach turned over. There are few responses when I talk about my work that I like less than "oh, that sounds like so-and-so's piece...", and Zoe Sheehan Saldana's Walmart shopdropping piece comes way closer to my Shell Game than anything I'd seen before (and predates it...doubly blasted). She bought clothing from Walmart, made exacting facsimiles with impressive sewing skills, put the tags from the legitimate items on the one's that she'd constructed, and then slipped her douplicates back into the store, for people to buy without ever being the wiser. I've since consoled myself, though, by focusing on the many ways in which her work differs from mine. Her work is more technically demanding and conceptually rigorous, but mine is more, well, fun? I'll stop being petty any moment now.

The one other artist introduced via my reading that I wanted to mention is Hang Nguyen, whose Planting Seeds made me smile, and after so much reading on anti-corporate, anti-conventional, anti-etcetera was refreshingly sweet (but you know, still in a transgressive way).


  1. I can't wait to explore those links...after I'm done writing my thesis.

    Just based on your description of the Walmart piece, I think what you're doing is significantly different. Rather than mimicking the goods, you're adding to them, and while that *might* be less technically demanding, it's more creative and way cool.

    You mentioned in a post a while back that you felt slightly guilty about someone spending their hard-earned $$ on your altered clothing, but I don't think you should worry about that. I think anyone would assume it was supposed to be like that!

    PS Isn't blogging awesome?

  2. I don't know if I'd say awesome exactly, because that would entirely mean you'd won, but it has certainly gotten me thinking more about my work and thinking about it in a different way. When I intend to show and explain every little thing I do to other people, I can't be quite as sloppy (craftsmanship or idea-wise) as I am tempted to be when I am my only critic. Not that people have been very critical. Feel free to be critical...

  3. I got some seeds to plant from Planting Seeds ...I had a great time sneaking them onto fruits and vegetable, and feeling positively subversive out of all proportion to the action. I highly recommend it!