Paintings Of Burning Banks


Alex Shaeffer: Disaster Capitalism:

Alex Schaefer set up an easel across the road from a Chase bank and began painting the building in flames. However, before he had finished the police arrived, asked him for his information and if he was planning on actually carrying out an arson attack on the building. Later they turned up on his doorstep asking about his artwork and looking for any signs that he was going to carry through an anarcho-terrorist plot based on his paintings. [...]

Homeland Security considers drawing or photographing "sensitive" locations and buildings is suspicious activity. But my painting protest is different because it's so slow and blatant. I was not "casing" the location. I was standing on the street in full view painting for four hours, talking with people, interacting. I suspect it was someone from the bank that notified authorities that they are "threatened" by my painting. And that was the exact word the police used when first confronting me. Someone was "threatened" by my art and called them.

Once it was sketched out I started immediately with the flames. [...] The reaction of everyone who commented was positive. Thumbs up. [People would say] "They suck." "they screwed my checking account," "my brother's losing his home." I could feel that the image was a catharsis for lots of people. Three hours into it the police came and the rest is history.

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3 Responses:

  1. Frank Hecker says:

    See also Ed Ruscha's "Los Angeles County Museum of Art on Fire"--although I think Ruscha managed to avoid trouble with the authorities.

  2. thielges says:

    Similar to the harassment some photographers receive. If you're not photographing pretty things then you must be up to no good.