The art that stole Christmas- Library of Mu

Library of Mu record:
Title: The art that stole Christmas
Date: 18 November, 2004
Journal: Guardian (G2)
Author: Paul Arendt
Type of resource: News items
Status: webpage
No. views: 1535
Description: Intelligent but short exploration of the link between art and shopping with quotes from Cauty and Banksy.

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The art that stole Christmas

By Paul Arendt (18 November, 2004, Guardian (G2))

Banksy's material Jesus, on show at Santa's Ghetto
Banksy's material Jesus, on show at Santa's Ghetto
James Cauty, formerly of the KLF, is launching an assault on Christmas shopping. His gift shop, Blackoff, is taking its cue from the Government's infamous Preparing for Emergencies leaflet and selling a range of "terror aware" gifts. These include bunker-buster jigsaw puzzles (with one piece missing), limited-edition attack hankies and terror tea towels.

"The gift shop becomes the place we can explore our branding ideas," says Cauty. "Cash for trash - it represents the futility and the glory of it all."

But Cauty isn't the only person vying to provide 2004's most ironic Christmas shopping experience. Santa's Ghetto, the brainchild of underground screenprinters Pictures on Walls, is now in its third year, and "rallies against the commercialisation of Christmas by selling lots of stuff", according to organiser Steve Lazarides. This "stuff" includes work by Gorillaz cartoonist Jamie Hewlett, pop video director Chris Cunningham and new paintings by 3D of Massive Attack.

What these shops share is a disdain for the traditional process of displaying and selling art in galleries. "It's all gear at the end of the day," says graffiti artist Banksy, whose controversial portrait of a crucified Christ laden with shopping bags will be showing at Santa's Ghetto. "Nine times out of 10, people will buy your work because it goes with the colour scheme in the kitchen and the bathroom. It's shopping."

Cauty agrees: "I had an exhibition of some paintings, and I just hated it. In the end I took it all down to the Bayswater Road and hung it on the railings."

Santa's Ghetto is at the Soho Bookshop, London W1, and Blackoff is at the Aquarium Gallery, London WC1. Both are open for business throughout December.


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