Rise Above Famous Street Artist Shepard Fairey Doin Dallas

By: Allison Hibbs

For the first time in 10 years, Shepard Fairey is in Dallas! Invited by the non-profit art forum, Dallas Contemporary, as part of their Citywide Street Project, he is leaving his signature mark on buildings around the city. A graphic artist and old-school skateboarder, Fairey is probably best known in the mainstream for his 2008 poster depicting a stylized version of then-presidential candidate, Barack Obama, along with the single word: Hope.

Among those familiar with the street art movement, however, Fairey – with his Andre the Giant logo featuring the word ‘Obey’ – has long been iconic of the pioneering work that he and others have done to legitimize the subculture as an accepted, if often politically subversive and irreverent, art form. Along with Basquiat in the 80s and later artists such as world-famous anonymous prankster, Bansky, street artists like Fairey have elevated graffiti into a meaningful form of expression, rebellion and catharsis in the United States, across Europe and in Australia.

Movies such as “Exit Through the Gift Shop,” a documentary made by the elusive Banksy and featuring work by Fairey, chronicle the progression, techniques and motivations behind this growing movement. (Although many consider the film to be another one of Bansky’s pranks, Fairey and the film’s central character, Thierry Guetta, deny all such accusations.)  Put simply, the goal of these artists is two-fold: to make use of and beautify unused, often unsightly, urban spaces, and to make people stop and think as they go about the usual business of their days. Many dedicated street artists work uncompromisingly (and often under the cover of night) to realize these goals. Of course, they also seem to have a good deal of fun in the process.

In the wake of chaos caused by Wall Street in 2007, Banksy pieces started showing up around New York City depicting his iconic rat (an anagram for ‘art’), which showed the artist’s obvious distain for the moral bankruptcy of those who were the architects of the financial disaster.

Obama poster notwithstanding, much of Fairey’s work tends to be less overtly political – necessitating individual thought and introspection – although several are obvious admonishments against war and global warming. Lately, he has even come out in support of the nationwide movement known as Occupy with an image of Guy Fawkes that plays off of his ’08 Hope poster. What, according to Fairey, began as a fun project to entertain college friends has evolved into an art form aimed at shaking people out of their passive acceptance of societal norms.

Working with the local street art collective, Sour Grapes, Fairey had completed four murals as of Feb. 3 in two locations in West Dallas. Dallas Contemporary has indicated that he will do at least eight more before he leaves, at least one of which is to be located in the area known as Deep Ellum. Three of the murals are located at 331 and 340 Singleton Blvd., near I-30 and I-35E in West Dallas. Another adorns the side of Dallas Contemporary, at 161 Glass Street, where Fairey has also been invited to guest DJ at a sold-out  “neon-inspired dance party” on the night of Saturday, Feb. 4. If these murals have a theme, he told the Dallas Observer, “It’s peace and harmony.” The woman in two of the murals, he says, is his wife.

A bus tour been organized for Saturday, Feb. 11, which is to include stops at the murals and a studio visit with Sour Grapes, as well as visits to exhibits at Dallas Contemporary featuring Rob Pruitt, David Jablonowski and Failure. Tickets are limited and can be purchased online.

Anonymous Shuts Down FBI Site Following Arrest of MegaUpload Founders

Written by: Alexandra Paskulin

In response to the Jan. 19 arrests of Megaupload founders in New Zealand, major US websites are shutdown by hacktivist group Anonymous in protest of anti-piracy laws. 

Following the mass protest of SOPA/PIPA legislation by prominent websites including Wikipedia, Google and Craigslist, the widely used file-sharing site Megaupload was shut down by the American Federal Bureau of Investigation. The founders of Megaupload (and associated sites Megavideo, Megapix, Megalive, Megabox and Megaporn), Kim Dotcom (aka Kim Schmitz), Finn Batato and Mathias Ortmann of German citizenship and Bram van der Kolk of Dutch citizenship were arrested in Auckland by New Zealand authorities executing provisional arrest warrants by the US. A US Department of Justice statement, released on the same day as the arrests, declared the action against the “Mega conspiracy” to be “among the largest criminal copyright cases ever brought by the Unites States and directly targets the misuse of a public content storage and distribution site to commit and facilitate intellectual property crime.” The Megaupload site now bears the following notice informing visitors that Dotcom, Batato, Ortmann, van der Kolk and three others have been charged with criminal copyright infringement.

Kim Schmitz aka Kim Dotcom, founder of Megaupload

Kim Schmitz aka Kim Dotcom, founder of Megaupload

Following the federal seizure of Megaupload and arrest of its founders, several US government and major music and film industry websites went down. The affected sites include FBI, DOJ, Universal Music Group, Warner Music Group, Recording Industry Association of America and Motion Picture Association of American. Some of the broken sites were down for hours. Responsibility for the attacks was taken by hacktivist group Anonymous on their Twitter feed. In the early afternoon of January 2012, @YourAnonNews posted “The government takes down #Megaupload? 15 minutes later #Anonymous takes down government & record label sites. #ExpectUs.” Anonymous is a long-standing opponent of anti-piracy legislation and were active in opposing SOPA and PIPA earlier in the week. @YourAnonNews called the attacks on prominent government and industry sites “The Largest Attack Ever by Anonymous – 5,635 People Confirmed Using #LOIC to Bring Down Sites!”  The LOIC (Low Orbit Ion Cannon) is an open source application that allows multiple individuals to launch a distributed denial of service attack, flooding and crippling the targeted system.

The debate over anti-piracy legislation and Internet censorship is unlikely to end soon. Anonymous and other supporters of the free Internet will continue to face challenges from politicians and lobbyists who persist in threatening the freedom of information. Further attacks in protest of anti-piracy and censorship are imminent. As Anonymous operative Barrett Brown told RT.com, “more is coming”.

Hacktivist group Anonymous symbol, a Guy Fawkes mask and pirate swords

Hacktivist group Anonymous displays their symbol on their Twitter and Tumblr pages: a Guy Fawkes mask and pirate swords