BITS: Women and the Turner Prize, Piero’s Shit, Shepard Fairey Beleaguered

Toma Abts Ert
Tomma Abts Ert, 2003 Acrylic & oil on canvas 48cm x 38cm Boros Collection, Berlin


Only three women have ever won the Turner Prize:

  • Tomma Abts
  • Gillian Wearing
  • Rachel Whiteread

In 1997 when the Turner Prize committee came up with the first all-female shortlist, newspapers instantly lept to attention with such classy headlines as:

‘A woman’s place – is in the gallery’‘The jury’s still out, but where’s the spice, girls?’
‘No sexism, Please; They’re British’

The five times that the short list was all-male were never noted.



There is still speculation about what exactly IS in the cans that Piero Manzoni labeled “freshly preserved” Merde d’Artiste. Some say it’s plaster. Some say pineapple. Some say it’s “something wrapped”. Some say it’s another can, perhaps with something inside it.


Most people are pretty sure it’s not shit, though. Even the artist once told someone that, as the son of a man who worked in a cannery, he certainly wouldn’t have risked canning shit since it would give off  methane gas and explode.

Because the work was apparently inspired by an insult from his father, who said Manzoni’s art was shit, one can assume that no matter what’s in the can, there are still some who will insist that the label’s authenticity needn’t be questioned.



Animal New York’s Bucky Turco , reports that the NYC Department of Buildings has apparently pasted STOP WORK papers to the side wall of Shepard Fairey‘s mural on Houston Street. The claim that the “small building” was put up without a license would seem to be a joke, but the papers, one signed by Deric Lee, Manhattan Borough Commisioner, look real enough (although I have my doubts about the Large Caps).

Meantime, the wall has been tagged already and even broken through, so that part of the previous Os Gemeos shows through.

But, alas, the beleagered artist can’t get an ounce of respect as even the destruction of his wall is held up as a possble publicity stunt.

Artsbeat quotes Fairey as stating:

“Because I’m straddling the line between all these different worlds — the fine art world, the street art world, commercial design, fashion — I think I’m a target for a lot of narrow-minded people who just aren’t comfortable with my multiplatform approach. If that’s how they express their view is by vandalizing my mural, that’s fair. I assume that they think that putting a bullet hole through it is a clever interactive addition, which I actually agree with.”

Shepard Fairey Changes the Mainstream

Before Shep got to it, the wall had been tagged.

The wall at Houston and Bowery has sported Keith Haring’s crawling babies, and Os Gemeos’ trippy amusment park: now it’s wearing something from the OBEY line of products: a wheatpaste collage in Shepard Fairey’s best and latest fascist poster colors. It’s looking good.

The wall will be finished in time to promote Fairey’s upcoming show at Deitch Projects, May Day: a series of portraits of revolutionary personages who, “started out on the margins of culture and ended up changing the mainstream.”

But a few steps too many into mainstream, and one may not end up changing it, but only changing how one makes money in it.

From the OBEY site
From the OBEY site

For example: the May Day show will reflect the incendiary mood of spray can and eaves-clinging guerilla art, with it’s tribute to political activism; in the meantime it will also serve to promote Shepard Fairey’s OBEY clothing line. And the OBEY clothing line, will spring a pop-up store on Orchard Street coinciding with the Deitch show, thus providing a promotional supplement to it.

As if there’s not enough money in all that marketing, recall that this will be Jeffrey Deitch’s last show at the Wooster street location before he closes shop and moves off to LA MOCA. The draw will already be huge.

Shepard Fairey, May Day
Deitch Projects | 18 Wooster Street, New York
May 01, 2010 — May 29, 2010

MORE SNEAK PEEKS at Flavorwire

OBEY Pop-Up Store
151 Orchard Street, New York
April 30 – May 16


Addendum: On April 22, as Shepard Fairey and crew were clearing out and getting ready to go get some dinner after finishing the mural on Houston Street, I, and my husband, David Kaplan, a writer for PaidContent, stopped to chat with him. David asked him some questions about his law battles with the Associated Press. Here’s a link to the story.

Shepard Fairey: AP Suit Driven By ‘Crumbling Business Model’; AP To  Fairey: You’re The Hypocrite
by David Kaplan

Shep's Words on AP case

a nice little history of appropriation


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