Sad news yesterday when we heard that Graffiti, Hip-Hop, and Art Pioneer, RAMM::ELL::ZEE had pasted away. If you don’t the name, the history, or the legend, feel free to Google Rammellzee and you will see the impact his has made on urban culture for the past 30 years. Our thoughts and condolences go out to his family and close friends.
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Carlo McCormick, a good friend of OBEY and Senior Editor of PAPER Magazine, has just recently curated an exhibition of some the best and brightest in the art world. Be sure to catch this show if you are in NYC. Shred, curated by Carlo McCormick opens on Thursday, July 1st, from 6:00 to 8:00 pm.
Featuring work by Martha Colburn, Bruce Conner, Brian Douglas, Faile, Shepard Fairey, Leo Fitzpatrick, Mark Flood, Erik Foss, Tessa Hughes-Freeland, Jess, Shelter Serra, Dash Snow, Bec Stupak & Malcolm Stuart, Judith Supine, Swoon, Gee Vaucher, and Jack Walls
Perry Rubenstein Gallery
527 West 23rd Street
New York, NY 10011
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Iggy is one of my favorite rockers of all time and is undoubtedly the godfather of punk. Iggy grew up outside of Detroit and got the name “Iggy” because he played drums in a high school band called The Iguanas. Iggy formed the Stooges around 1967 and released 2 great records, their self-titled 1969 debut, and Funhouse in 1970, on Elektra Records, who had recently seen great success with The Doors, and were eager to sign high energy rock acts. The two Elektra albums were commercial failures but attracted a small but passionate following including burgeoning Glam star David Bowie. When the Stooges were dropped, Bowie helped get them signed to Sony Records for whom they put out Raw Power adapting their name to “Iggy and the Stooges” because Bowie was primarily interested in Iggy. Though now seen as an influential classic, Raw Power was a commercial failure as well, and the band imploded around 1974. Iggy dealt with drug addiction issues for the next few years, but maintained his friendship with Bowie. In 1977 Iggy and Bowie collaborated in Berlin on a pair of Iggy’s albums, The Idiot and Lust For Life, yielding songs like “Nightclubbing”, “China Girl”, “Lust For Life”, and “The Passenger”. To me, these two albums represent a creative high point for Iggy, and though I love Iggy’s Stooges material, I think the Berlin albums don’t get the love they deserve because they don’t fit a genre archetype the way the Stooges records set the template for punk. This poster was created from the canvas I painted of Iggy based on a Berlin era 1977 photo taken by Ed Perlstein. I think the image captures Iggy’s intensity, which has remained undiminished, and his trademark, even as he has matured. Iggy has done great material since 77/78 including collabs with Steve Jones, and the Teddybears, but I think this poster may reflect Iggy at the peak of his powers. For a good career overview get the two disc “A Million in Prizes” or just pick up all the Stooges records and the two Berlin records.
Check out this interview between myself and Iggy Pop for Interview magazine. It highlights our conversation that lasted about an hour and a half. http://www.interviewmagazine.com/art/shepard-fairey/ We are hoping to get the full transcript from Interview soon.
Photography by Ed Perlstein, www.MusicImages.com
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For anyone in the Portland area, I’ll be DJing at Ground Kontrol, a really cool old school arcade that also serves drinks on Thursday July 1st. My friend John Goff who helps me with some re-edits and re-mixes will be DJing too. It’s the right price, which is no price, A.K.A. free! As an added bonus, while you might be playing Pac-Man, I definitely WILL NOT be playing “Pac-Man Fever” by Buckner and Garcia (I’m still pissed that I can’t dislodge their name from my memory since the 80’s, possibly causing them to displace something far more important, or at least relevant, I should remember). Oh well, whether you want to remember or forget, either will be more pleasurable with good tunes, drinks, and 8-bit bleeps.
July 1st, 2010, 7pm
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The Glass Houses print seems fairly self-explanatory, but l should explain some of the ideas and motivation behind it. A basic idea is that we, meaning we as a society, are familiar with the cautionary anecdotes about “glass houses” and “houses of cards”, yet despite warning signs we allow dangerous practices to go unchecked. People with money have the power to change many things in the world. Unfortunately money and power are often used to prevent change, no matter how broken the current system may be, especially when their wealth is a direct result of that system. Over the past couple years, the U.S. has seen several chronically toxic systems—healthcare, energy, finance, auto manufacturing—melt down into large-scale catastrophes, causing widespread suffering. The administrators of these systems, from Wall Street to big oil, haven’t been spared from suffering, but instead of letting the perpetrators bear the brunt of their disastrous judgment, our political leaders have done what they usually do: whatever their financial (read: corporate) backers want them to.
I don’t want to diminish some of the positive reforms that have been passed by our Congress, because I think that things like making it illegal for health insurers to deny coverage to people with preexisting conditions or mandating an audit of the Federal Reserve are better than nothing. What saddens and angers me is that all these systems have proven themselves unsustainable and in need of massive change, yet the only changes made have been minor and mostly cosmetic.
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Henry Diltz has been one of the most important photographers in rock ‘n’ roll for almost half a century, shooting rock icons from Jimi Hendrix to Kurt Cobain. I met him through Henry Rollins when he was working as a still photographer on The Henry Rollins Show, and have been a fan ever since I first saw his work.
Diltz started out as a folk musician, playing with the Modern Folk Quartet, and bought his first camera while on tour with them. He started hanging out with The Monkees and taking photos of them, and shot an album cover—the first of over eighty he would go on to shoot—for The Lovin’ Spoonful. He immersed himself in the rock scene and became the go-to photographer for bands like The Doors and Crosby, Stills and Nash, and was the official photographer for Woodstock and the Monterey Music Festival. He transcended the hippie generation and continued to shoot an extremely impressive roster of artists too long to list here. The reference photo of Neil Young for this piece was taken in 1969 and my all time favorite photo of Neil. Thanks for collaborating Henry.
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Shepard recently donated some prints to help support the VH1 Save the Music Foundation and to celebrate this years 7th Annual 2010 VH1 Hip Hop Honors featuring the music, the influence, and the artists of the South. Benefits from this auction will go towards music education in Southern public schools. Check the links below and support. The auction ends June 21st.
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This message is taken from a correspondence between Shepard and a person who claims to be an American Citizen from Las Vegas, regarding our Post and position on the Sound Strike Against Arizona Campaign. Please read below.
From: American Citizen B
Date: June 9, 2010 6:39:34 PM PDT
To: [email protected]
Subject: [Obey Giant Contact Form] General Inquiries
I just read the little snippet in Rolling Stone about your Sound Strike in AZ. I agree you should stay out of Arizona, but I think you should go a step further and call every radio station in AZ and tell them to stop playing any music by any bands on your list. Oh, and call every Walmart and every other retail outlet in AZ and tell them to stop selling your CD’s. And tell iTunes to not let anyone buy your music that has an AZ address on their credit card. Really, if you are serious about this then you will do this. Of course you are not THAT serious about it, so I won’t hold my breath. Just like Los Angeles shut the fuck up after AZ asked if they wanted to boycott the power from AZ, every one of the bands on your list should SHUT THE FUCK UP. You can also boycott Las Vegas as I have this list of bands and I will not be buying or listening to any of them ever again. How’s that for a boycott? Oh and if you’re saying “Big deal, who gives a shit what this guy from Vegas thinks…” well, then, you know exactly what I think about your stupid little boycott.
B – in Las Vegas, NV USA – An AMERICAN Citizen
American Citizen B,
It is very sad that you think you are not an immigrant. This country was founded by “illegal” immigrants escaping dreadful lives in Europe. Is that any different than people fleeing dreadful lives in Latin America? Human rights should be protected regardless of immigration status. YOU live in the U.S. because your family was not deported at whatever point they came to this land. The only people who deserve to argue about illegal immigration are Native Americans. There are tons of deadbeat U.S. citizens who leach off the government, don’t have health or auto insurance, and don’t pay taxes. Are you going to generalize that all Americans are like that? I bet you won’t hesitate to make generalizations about Latin immigrants… why, because you need to justify your racism. Empathy requires intelligence and maturity. I’m trying to teach empathy to my five year old daughter and it is difficult, but at least there is hope for her. I wish people would migrate to the U.S. legally, but if you advocate their human rights being taken away once they are living here, be careful, because when permissive attitudes toward human rights abuse are cultivated… your rights may be the next to go.
Around this time last year, I created an image of Burmese political prisoner Aung San Suu Kyi, who despite being elected prime minister in 1990 has been kept out of power by Burma’s military junta, and has been placed under house arrest for the better part of the last 20 years. The military regime has also imprisoned over 2,100 other political activists, including artists, poets and musicians who have expressed their dissent through their art.
It saddens me to know that there are places in this world where artists can’t make art or express themselves otherwise without fearing imprisonment or worse. It is a fundamental violation of human rights, according to the UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 19: “Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.”
I believe that all positive change stems from acts of self-expression, but the Burmese military regime fears change and fends it off by stifling expression. To an artist, that censorship is like an acid that corrodes the soul. Within a society, it is a contagious paranoia that Aung San Suu Kyi once summed up perfectly: “It is not power that corrupts but fear. Fear of losing power corrupts those who wield it and fear of the scourge of power corrupts those who are subject to it.”
Today there is some slim hope for democracy and human rights in Burma as a result of the diplomatic pressure that the UN, the U.S. and Japan have exerted. The junta has announced that there will be elections later this year, though they haven’t said when, and if the four illegal extensions of Aung San Suu Kyi’s house arrest are any indication I’d say they have a habit of going back on their word. I consider Burmese democracy an important cause that demands more awareness and activism in the U.S. and around the world, not only because of the plight of Burma’s dissidents but because I believe that a global grassroots movement can help create real change there.
To the artists currently imprisoned in Burma, I would like to say that your voice can never be silenced, because it is the voice of everyone who believes in freedom. I hope that you will soon have the means and the rights to create again.
If you’d like to get involved in the grassroots movement to free Burma’s political prisoners, visit the Human Rights Watch site dedicated to the cause: http://www.hrw.org/free-burmas-prisoners/take-action
Here is a DOWNLOADABLE version of the Aung San Suu Kyi image
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