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Caution. Low Flying Planes
May 15, 2003 4:01 PM   Subscribe

Caution. Low Flying Planes: "He arrived with a ladder, paint and rope. Brazenly, alone and in broad daylight last Saturday, James Peterson, "guerrilla artist," climbed atop a landmark TriBeCa building just nine blocks from Ground Zero. It was a one-story garage, right next to a large brick wall. It became his canvas. He painted a Warholesque message about Sept. 11, 2001." a debated artistic statement about 9.11. aside from the fact that it was a public building he painted on, how do you feel about this. [via the washington post]
posted by sixtwenty3dc (51 comments total)

 
I'm torn, on one hand it's cute, 'cause New York City does have a sense of humour, and on the other hand it might be perceived as inappropriate.
posted by riffola at 4:06 PM on May 15, 2003


inarticulate, unsubtle speech is worse than no speech at all.
posted by luriete at 4:07 PM on May 15, 2003


We all have the right to be in extremely poor taste, I suppose.
posted by WolfDaddy at 4:08 PM on May 15, 2003


Eeesh. That makes me feel pretty uncomfortable...but maybe that was what he was going for?
posted by catfood at 4:13 PM on May 15, 2003


If only he had painted Caution, Bodies In Flight-- that woulda been real sentimental.

Idiot.
posted by xmutex at 4:16 PM on May 15, 2003


Fair warning meets art, perhaps. A headline in the New York Regional section of today's New York Times reads

"Jet Flies Low Over Manhattan, Putting Some on Ground on Edge"

Link is here for those with access.
posted by Bixby23 at 4:18 PM on May 15, 2003


I feel that the apartment renovator's support for the mural probably has a lot more to do with his resentment of the yuppie neighbors than with any actual affinity for the artwork...
posted by syzygy at 4:22 PM on May 15, 2003


Vulgar vandalism is not a worthwhile endeavor. Sand blast it.
posted by techgnollogic at 4:24 PM on May 15, 2003


If nothing else, it will only intensify the jitters some [most?] still have due to the WTC attack. Morbid, really.
posted by phylum sinter at 4:27 PM on May 15, 2003


James Peterson, guerilla artist, criminal, asshole
posted by a3matrix at 4:32 PM on May 15, 2003


The artistic equivalent of littering.
posted by techgnollogic at 4:37 PM on May 15, 2003


I did like the " "If that was a Tommy Hilfiger ad, nobody would be complaining. . . . If it was a 12-year-old with too much lipstick on, that would have been all right. But this is not?" Perspective

On the Other hand, I would not like any message. rude obscene or otherwise plastered in my view. But who's call is it anyway 'what is offensive'

My verdict?
As art, keep it. If the building manager wants it there, Keep it, if not, have it removed and mayby cite the guy for graffiti.
posted by wuakeen at 4:47 PM on May 15, 2003


I don't see why so many people have a problem with this. Yes, it was technically an illegal act, but so is going over the speed limit. Yes, it's provocative, but isn't some of the best art?

Moreover, Peterson's piece is the anti-WTC-Attack-Official-Logo (you know, the eagle superimposed over the towers superimposed over a billowing American flag superimposed over a firefighter). I hate that jingoistic crap; *that* is what is truly cheapening the meaning of our memories of the event, not this. The same people that are protesting this are the ones that wear the kitsch 9-11 memorial hats and such (evidenced by last night's news; the guy interviewed opposed to the art was wearing a kitsch hat). Each is entitled to his/her own opinion, I guess, but I give props to Peterson and his art.
posted by The Michael The at 4:55 PM on May 15, 2003


Caution, Bodies In Flight

That would not be funny for me, but as a protest that this horrible event was allowed to happen, then I could see this being useful in memory...
posted by thomcatspike at 4:55 PM on May 15, 2003


Okay it wouldn't be funny to me either, nevermind.
posted by xmutex at 4:59 PM on May 15, 2003


It's supposed to be humour and not, I think, in an entirely self-indulgent 'hey look what I did!' way. It's dark for sure, but ever heard the jokes emergency personnel make about tragedy? To the outsider they're hideously callous but to those in the loop it's a vital coping mechanism.

After all, the urge to laugh often arises from the need tell all that the danger has passed. Any New Yorkers got something to say about that?

"Humor is the instinct for taking pain playfully."
Max Eastman
posted by pots at 5:00 PM on May 15, 2003


I agree that this is jarring, but that's the point. It drives home the horror of what happened in a fresh way while the convenient shorthand for that day ("nine-eleven") usually keeps us at a safe distance. And it's not nearly as offensive as those damn hats and shirts and pins and snowglobes and keychains and postcards and socks and coffee table books they've been selling down there ever since.
posted by muckster at 5:05 PM on May 15, 2003


It's bad taste, he's an asshole, it even pisses me off a bit, but all in all, I like it.
posted by angry modem at 5:05 PM on May 15, 2003


I hate that jingoistic crap; *that* is what is truly cheapening the meaning of our memories of the event, not this.

Agreed. George W. does worse than this every time he pimps out the memory of 9/11 to justify some new tax boondoggle or military adventure. I might have chosen something a little less, err, whimsical were I the artist, but I certainly appreciate the fact that Mr. Peterson is engaging the issue. Is it good art? I don't happen to think so. Slap him with a fine and scrape the painting off. It's guerilla art, it's disposable, stare, think, move on.
posted by Ty Webb at 5:14 PM on May 15, 2003


I don't think offensive or morbid art is bad--I just think this is uninspired.
posted by nadawi at 5:24 PM on May 15, 2003


inarticulate, unsubtle speech is worse than no speech at all.

huh?! so who decides what is inarticulate and unsubtle? (oh, come on, it's obvious ... ha) i thought this piece was neither. unlawful, yes. inarticulate and unsubtle, definitely not.

i'm no defender of property rights, but it seems like the decision should be made by the building's owner.
posted by mrgrimm at 5:27 PM on May 15, 2003


"Everything will change after 9/11"
"we will never look at the world the same"

From that, the mindset moved almost instantly into...
"We must shop and be normal and act like this never should have happened. Otherwise the terrorists will win"

"Why did this happen" went away along with our tolerance for anything that unsettles us or makes us uncomfortable.

They have already won.....keeps echoing in my head...
posted by wuakeen at 5:33 PM on May 15, 2003


Its great, its unsettling because it *makes* you remember what those planes looked like before they struck the buildings. It evokes strong emotion, feeling... thats what art is intended to do. I love it when people dismiss things because its not to their liking.

This is raw nerve remberance, you can see them in the air when you read it. If you don't like it and you want to go back to the sugar coated media spin of uplifting nonexistent minorities raising flags from the rubble, look again, your the ignorant target audience.
posted by vincentmeanie at 5:35 PM on May 15, 2003


Just make him scrub it off with a toothbrush, and remind him of the Singapore Solution.
posted by hama7 at 5:44 PM on May 15, 2003


Taken literally, it's hardly a caution is it? What do you do? Run for cover on seeing the sign? So what does it say? It's a parody of a 20-month-old disaster - obviously 20 months is a safe enough time limit to unleash bad humour on the folks of Tribeca.
posted by SpaceCadet at 5:47 PM on May 15, 2003


What vincentmeanie said. It's art, it's good art, it's supposed to rub some people the wrong way, shake them out of their sleepwalk, and make them think, just for a moment, before going back to putting up flags or watching Friends or shopping or whatever.

Plus, when did New Yorkers turn into such little girls about stuff? I blame Rudy.

On a totally unrelated note, is it just me, or is there a distinct trend for the cranky and snarky posts to go up right away, forcing one to scroll through pages of self-righteous yammering before getting to the actual, thoughtful comments?
posted by majcher at 6:35 PM on May 15, 2003


If that was a Tommy Hilfiger ad, nobody would be complaining. . . . If it was a 12-year-old with too much lipstick on, that would have been all right. But this is not?
Hit the nail right on the head there, he did. For many people, a 12 year-old model made up like a slut is far more offensive, yet we see them everywhere.
posted by dg at 6:53 PM on May 15, 2003


I think he reads MEFI
posted by pekar wood at 7:06 PM on May 15, 2003


Funny and provocative? I like it.
posted by spazzm at 7:14 PM on May 15, 2003


Most art is mediocre, bad, or unsuccessful. This includes conceptual art.

Also: this is not the first 9/11 artwork to arouse calls for removal.
posted by crunchburger at 7:36 PM on May 15, 2003


Not funny at all, just sick.
posted by Oxydude at 7:40 PM on May 15, 2003


I'm only mad because I didn't think of it first.

remind him of the Singapore Solution.

I'll bet Saudi Arabia has an even better punishment for vandalism, why not hold them up as your example? (By better I mean even more appealing to the desire to stamp out undesireable things as quickly and violently as possible)
posted by Space Coyote at 8:00 PM on May 15, 2003


So I'm reading On the Road and what do I spot but this little line near the end of part 2, chapter 2: "He said we we were a band of Arabs coming in to blow up New York."

Kerouac was on the case some fifty years ahead of the US government!
posted by five fresh fish at 8:12 PM on May 15, 2003


"Taken literally, it's hardly a caution is it? What do you do? Run for cover on seeing the sign?"

That's exactly the point. We don't run for cover - we can't be over-alert and terrified all our lives.
The only way to cope with the uncertainties and unavoidable dangers of real life is to laugh at it.

I wish people would stop acting like a terrorist attack gave them carte-blanche to be sourpusses for eternity.
posted by spazzm at 8:14 PM on May 15, 2003


Provacative art is great. It makes you think.

This, on the other hand, is just lame. It's Fark on a building. I love Fark, but I go there to be amazed and insulted by the things that happen around us. This was created in a public space, where the families of people who died will be able to see it. Ha ha! Your tragedy is a road sign! I know funny, and that ain't funny.

It doesn't make you think, either. This brings up no new issues or angles. It's just showboating.

Overall, I give it a D for douchebag.
posted by Samsonov14 at 8:16 PM on May 15, 2003


Reminds me of another forum, where somebody told a joke about Titanic.
The response came instantly:
"You insensitive clod! I had family on that boat!"
posted by spazzm at 8:41 PM on May 15, 2003


Wednesday a continental airlines flight carrying soldiers did a flyby around the statue of liberty... unannounced. plenty of people saw it and freaked out. me thinks people are still quite sensitive. i think the "art' was a bad idea.
posted by tomplus2 at 8:57 PM on May 15, 2003


I guess I see where you're going here spazzm, but I don't remember anyone painting "watch for floating rocks" on any iceburgs back then. If just being a dickhole and making light of an awful situation is art, then Quonsar would already be recognized as the next Renoir.

I kid because I love, Q.

This "art" elicits emotions and all, but it doesn't add anything new to what we already know about the situation. Maybe I'm obtuse, but I don't see how this adds value to our collective worldview. I may be wrong, but I always thought that the purpose of art was to make us think in new ways.
posted by Samsonov14 at 9:02 PM on May 15, 2003


It's bad taste, he's an asshole, it even pisses me off a bit, but all in all, I like it.

im not sure about the asshole part - but in general i agree with this comment - as i think it is a better reminder of that awful day and how vulnerable we all still are ... than the planned libeskind monstrosity. i just wish banksy had done the job.
posted by specialk420 at 10:49 PM on May 15, 2003


I feel OK.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 11:41 PM on May 15, 2003


An Artist paints something on a wall. A message.

How you react to the piece tells us more about yourself than the actual piece itself.


Call it a self introspection check.


Instead of slagging it as worthless, why not ask the question how your government failed the citizens of New York, USA and all affected by "that" date?

Instead, some folks are getting on the stick to the property owner?

Why not call your local politician and ask him WTF is the CIA or SS doing today?

Questioning school kids maybe?


Are you surprised? Really.


Some are demanding accountabilty from a painting on a wall... what about the President? What about the accountability of his past, his "votes" and now his laws.

Say, what ever DID happen to Osama?


Wake up sometime soon huh.


peace
posted by alicesshoe at 12:10 AM on May 16, 2003


That's hilarious!!!

...but it's not art. ;-P
posted by mischief at 2:52 AM on May 16, 2003


To those who are offended enough to want it removed, ask yourselves this:

Why do I feel the need to eliminate all that I disagree with from my universe?

Then, take a pill and lie down somewhere.
posted by Cerebus at 5:39 AM on May 16, 2003


The fact that the mural has evoked such a long and winding thread as this probably demonstrates - albeit in a small way - that it has fulfilled it's apparent purpose as a brazen, provocative slogan with any number of interpretations.

The more relevant question is whether this purpose accords with your definition of what 'art' is supposed to be, I suppose.
posted by Doozer at 6:47 AM on May 16, 2003


Personally, I think it's hilarious. Then again, your reaction may be affected by how many people you know were around the WTC disaster. My count would be 0.
posted by drezdn at 9:06 AM on May 16, 2003


it's good art, it's supposed to rub some people the wrong way, shake them out of their sleepwalk, and make them think, just for a moment

Yeah, that's inherently valuable. It's a good thing we have "artists" to decide when people need to be shaken up! Because a random person who's never met me surely knows what I need more than I do...

Little presumptuous, don't you think? Really.
posted by kindall at 9:43 AM on May 16, 2003


This sort of reminds me of the NYC subway incident in December where an art student caused a public scare by placing empty black boxes labeled 'FEAR' in the terminals.

While it may be 'art' and a revealing look at the city's zeitgeist, it's in poor taste and most people will not tollerate something that upsets them to exist in the public eye. No matter how much you, as an artist, desire to get a reaction from others, you still have to be considerate of the law.
posted by Down10 at 6:40 PM on May 16, 2003


Washington Post's webserver needs to learn not to serve images as text/plain. And yes, that bothers me more than this painting :)
posted by Freaky at 7:17 PM on May 16, 2003


there's a law against writing 'fear' on a little box now? Jesus...
posted by Space Coyote at 7:43 PM on May 16, 2003


Is there a constitutional amendment that protects people from being confronted with uncomfortable ideas, images, or words?

Because I'm thinking little black boxes named "Fear" are pretty damn innocuous. And that if you're deeply affected by them, that just may be a sign that you need to do some rational thinking.

Likewise the low planes grafitti. Cheesy, sure, but is it really worth getting upset about? Sheesh.

In this day and age, "Flanders' Fields" would be put down because it makes people remember something bad.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:32 PM on May 16, 2003


Nothing I hate more than a city which is full of surprises.
It sucks.
Like jazz.
posted by Opus Dark at 9:50 PM on May 16, 2003


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