Legal philosophy from Henry Matyjewicz, an artist who — it may seem — operates by cutting up and rearranging the posters in the New York City subway stations, an illicit activity for which he was recently arrested.
You can see him in action here and here:
There's some question as to whether Matyjewicz is the real Poster Boy or perhaps only an artist who is using the Poster Boy method and reputation in the gallery setting. In any case, by going public, he got the police to arrest him, which, I note, is a damned effective publicity move. And now, there can be a "Free Henry" movement and complicated arty cogitations about identity and authenticity:
“Henry is one of many individuals who believe in the Poster Boy ‘movement,’ ” [somebody emailed the NYT.] “Henry’s part is to do legal artwork while propagating the ideas behind Poster Boy. That’s why it was O.K. for him to take the fall the other night.”And there can be the usual protestations about police abuse:
He added, “Henry Matyjewicz is innocent.”
“The police came into a private event,” [said Moni Pineda, who was involved in staging the gallery event.] “They didn’t show a warrant to me or anybody. And the next thing we know, our friend is walking out with a bunch of guys we didn’t know.”How private was this event? Did the cops ask to come in and get consent? The NYT doesn't say. That would be key if you're going to try to say they misbehaved.
Anyway, here's Poster Boy's photo stream. Basically, it's collage with other people's property. Obviously, it's criminal to destroy the advertisements businesses have paid for — paid the city, by the way, so the citizens who are entertained should see that they are in fact being forced to pay for the entertainment.
That is one of the more juvenile efforts. Here's a pretty good effort at mocking pop culture:
I love the broken compact fluorescent bulb. Yes, much as I hate crime, my sympathy is tweaked when you hit an issue I am passionate about. There's some slightly political stuff in there, but not much, really, unless you count vaguely anti-consumerist material as political.
I lived in NYC and rode the subway a lot in the early 80s when the artist Keith Haring was drawing in the subway stations. He was much less destructive, confining his work to the plain black panels that filled the poster spaces when the city had no ad to display. He wasn't wrecking an ad somebody gave money to the city for. He used chalk — white chalk — so his markings were impermanent. And he was also much more original, creating a distinctive style of drawing and inventing a whole catalogue of symbols. I remember seeing these drawings and feeling slightly nauseated by his appropriation of public property for self-promotion — though the fact that he was completely anonymous at the time made it more acceptable. Who was he to decide that his images were more important than the nothingness of the black panels? Is there never to be any visual quiet? But there was a simplicity and charm to his gift to the city. A sweet, elegant vibe — a light touch — that is missing from Poster Boy.