#5 Summer 2000 France (french)
By: MichaÃ«l Dupouy
Groups of taggers, dangerous sect, new playstation game, new electronic album& we ll have heard just about anything about Giant. Yet this phenomenom still remains a mystery& Until now.
The whole thing started about ten years ago, when Shepard Fairey, a skateboard addict and student at the Rhode Island school of design, decided to set up a phenomenological experiment for a school project. Shepard thus starts proliferating as many pictures as he can of a yet little known character : the professional french catcher AndrÃ© le GÃ©ant. His aim is to observe people s reactions facing this surge of non-commercial propaganda. As expected, people in his home town (Providence, USA) start enquiring about this new picture which invades walls, traffic signals and even electoral campaign posters. But the project has not finished growing.
Shepard then moves to California with a friend to increase production of stickers and posters. Little by little, giant becomes big, and progressively invades all of American society ; not only with Giant pictures, but also with personalities such as Lenin, Stalin, Saddam Hussein and Che Guevarra, who all symbolise resistance to American imperialism. Suddenly, the project takes a whole new dimension : it seems to stand up against social conventions, and becomes a curse for American conservatives. Eventually, Sheppard s image starts evolving with his icons, going from artistical to criminal. Yet, despite Shepard s several detentions, his pictures are no less popular and hip, and his Giant stickers, posters, T-shirts and skateboards sell like hot cakes.
A few year later one counts more than 1,5 million posters and stickers edited. Today, one can even become a member of his project via the web, and Shepard s ” campaign ” seems to have invaded Vienna, Singapour, Tokyo, London and lately Paris. Moreover, Shepard s game is now becoming a flourishing industry. He was even accused of having built himself an ” army ” for strictly personal and commercial benefits.