Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Iggy Pop Talks To Shepard Fairey For Interview Magazine

It's cool when two iconic guys have a conversation and let the world in on it.

IGGY POP: I wanted to start out by talking to you about the biggest mess you’ve created, which is the Barack Obama piece you made in the run-up to the last election. My first thought was that it reminded me a little of something I would have seen in the Middle East—you know, the kind of simple picture of a leader that you see go up when there’s going to be civil unrest or when they die. What were you thinking when you made that image?

SHEPARD FAIREY: I created the Obama image with a little bit of a different intention than a lot of other stuff that I make. It’s not that I haven’t put people who I admire on pedestals before, but they were usually people like the members of Black Sabbath or the Black Panthers. I’ve also made a lot of political art in the past where I was criticizing people like George W. Bush—I worked very hard in 2004 to make anti-Bush imagery. But then Bush got reelected, and so I thought I needed to reevaluate my approach to mainstream politics. At that point, I’d had a kid, a daughter, and as the 2008 election campaign was beginning, I had a second daughter on the way. So I started to think, “This isn’t about me augmenting my existing brand of pissed-off rebellion. This is about my daughters’ future.” I wanted it to have a stylistic connection to my other work, so I didn’t use the typical red, white, and blue—I used the red that I use, and that cream background, and then I worked with different shades of blue so the image had that patriotic feel. I wanted to make an image that deracialized Obama, where he’s not a black man, but a nationalized man. And then, secondly, when a person is turned into a stylized or idealized icon, it means that someone has decided that the person is worthy of this treatment, and the viewer then maybe takes a step back and says, “Well, they’ve been validated by someone, so maybe I should look at them a little more closely and decide whether they’re worthy of that validation.” So my thinking was that if people took that step, then I was pretty sure that they would want Obama to be president. His opposition to the war in Iraq when it was an unpopular position, his stands on health-care reform and the environment and decreasing the power of lobbyists—those were all things that resonated with me.

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