The Scotsman

October 16, 2004, Saturday


By: Roger Cox

THESE ARE GOOD TIMES FOR guerilla art - and I'm not talking about the 30,000 bananas dumped in Trafalgar Square by Doug Fishbone the other week. No, I'm talking about what my well-thumbed encyclopedia describes as public art that is "surreptitiously created" and "unauthorised".

The Americans have always been leaders in this field, but in the run-up to the Bush/Kerry showdown the many artistic banditos resident in the Land of the Free have gone into overdrive.

Los Angeles is the centre of America's guerilla art scene and Carol Wells has been archiving political public artwork at the city's Center for the Study of Political Graphics for more than 20 years. In an interview with, she admitted there has been so much illicit artistic activity lately, she can "no longer keep up".

The biggest spray-can cat currently at work in LA's concrete jungle is that mysterious character, the Freeway Blogger. He hit the headlines in September when, after news that US casualties in Iraq had reached 1,000, he set out to put up 100 anti-war signs in a single night.

  In New York, meanwhile, a group of artists calling themselves Art-Anon have managed to get up the noses of almost every art gallery owner in the city's fashionable Chelsea district with their RIDER Project - an art gallery in the back of a truck (above). "Our goal is to provoke the galleries of Chelsea as best we can," founder Michele Gambetta told the New York Times, after parking her truck directly in front of yet another swanky art shop.

The guerillas have also been busy in the UK. Back in August, Banksy, arguably our most prolific agent provocateur, secretly installed a glorious statue on London's Clerkenwell Green - a 20ft high representation of the figure of justice sporting the usual sword and scales but also a black thong and knee -high leather boots, plus US dollar bills stuffed in her garter and the plaque on the plinth that read: "Trust no-one." The English capital has since been hit by a wave of unexpected cultural happenings, including guerilla gigs, plays and even mini-operas.

So where are all the Scottish guerilla artists? If the current trend continues, we'll get to meet them soon enough.