Pepper Spray Meme Artist Influenced By Banksy
Scottish/American Artist Becomes a Viral Hit
The unacceptable images of the University of California Davis campus police officer caught on film pepper spraying passive seated protesters has gone viral around the world but another artistic version has become a runaway hit on the web in the form of a meme using the image of Lt. John Pike macing figures in well known works of art.
The incident took place at UC Davis on Friday, but who is the artist behind the meme? It has all of the hallmarks of the British graffiti artist Banksy but the credit goes to James Alex, an American artist living in Edinburgh, Scotland, a follower of the elusive Bristol artist. The six images are on view on his Tumblr account see link below.
Speaking to MSNBC James stated; "I started to think about the UC students using a peaceful method of protest, i.e. sitting, and how truly revolutionary such a passive event like sitting could be. Then I started to think about paintings being passive yet revolutionary especially in their own time and yes, now too," Alex told MSNBC. "Popping in the image of the officer resulted in something quite dynamic with a multitude of meanings, the least of which is playing with the idea of historical events and how unamerican a violent act can be."
Other artists have followed and he has added the UC Davis cop to Picasso's "Guernica" and to celebrity photo shoots including Leonardo DiCaprio. Another Web site has been dedicated to posting memes of the UC Davis Cop, "Casually Pepper Spray Everything Cop" with nearly 200 images uploaded as of Monday evening.
James Alex wrote the following,Thanks to everyone who linked to my visual riff on the UC Davis Pepper Spray/Lt. John Pike incident and subsequent photoshop this meme. The offending officer appears in the pieces I mashed which are the following; Thomas Eakins, The Gross Clinic 1875, Willard’s The Spirit of 76’, 1875, Andrew Wyeth’s Christina’s World, 1948, Eakins’ Arcadia c. 1883, and finally Manet’s Le Déjeuner Sur L’herbe, 1863. Anyone know who started the Seurat, The Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte, 1884–1886? How about the brilliant take on John Trumbull’s Declaration of Independence.