Bados Earthling was a street art performance artist, not a busker but guerrilla theatre performer interacting with the public in Melbourne’s laneways. Bados made himself into a cartoon complete with a handheld chalkboard speech balloon. He is a fun character, friendly and approachable. Bados claims that he is from the future but time travel appears only to have confused him and has provided him with no insights. Bados’s naïve interaction with contemporary culture provides a mirror, or rather, a blank blackboard. He has been on my radar for 3 years, in 2010 he was collaborating with street sculptor Nick Ilton. I’ve never managed to see an actual performance, relying only online videos and still photos.
Then Bados Earthling announced that he was starting a band – “something like TISM”. Bados later denied this: “Its funny TISM never really entered our minds until after our first gig @ CoCoa Jackson. They never really influenced any of my art in the past. Including the development of Bados Earthling & performance graffiti. I’ve never owned a Tism C.D. or record and never saw them in concert. Until recently when I bought a box set with a C.D. and 2 DVD’s. It was out of curiosity. I do like them though I guess you can say we will be Tismish.”
Everyone claims to know someone in TISM (This Is Serious Mum) – as all the members are masked, it is an unchallengeable claim. There was always chaos accompanying a TISM gig, it would be late, the audience would be hassled and then both chaos and music would erupt on stage. TISM describes itself as “part Dada, part-paramilitary, part-comic” and the identities of Ron Hitler-Barassi and Humphrey B. Flaubert, fit into the tradition of Rrose Selavy and Monty Cantsin.
And this is where Bados Earthling comes back into the story now with a band – the Wild Audio Society with WaDe on keyboards, Bados and Songstress X on vocals. The gothic steampunk style of WaDe improves his claims to be a time traveller but from a different time from Bados. The Wild Audio Society was officially founded in March 2012 (there must be some time travel involved).
I still haven’t got to a gig by Bados Earthling and the Wild Audio Society but I have experienced them online. Ever keen to follow the popular meme the Wild Audio Society sing about “Where’s the Banksy?” and “Free Pussy Riot”. The Wild Audio Society’s electronic rock of “Free Pussy Riot” sounds like a parody of Liabach.
Bados says “my own influences came out of Dada, Devo on the concept behind Bados, not musically, street art and comedians I have done a little stand-up over the years & fringe type comedy.”
The other band that I should mention in this mix-post is Curse Ov Dialect with their politically conscious rap with ethnomusicological sources and a hip-hop base. Curse Ov Dialect’s performances are over the top and chaotic artistic events that make TISM look like a private school variety show.
I have neglected examining Melbourne’s music in this blog, believing that it was better covered elsewhere and forgetting the importance of music to post-modern avant-garde art in general. I had been in that scene decades ago and wanted to maintain the focus of Black Mark on the visual arts but occasionally you have to make diversions.
Leave a comment | tags: Bados Earthling, Curse ov Dialect, guerrilla theatre, Melbourne, music, TISM | posted in Culture Notes, Street Art
Melbourne’s street artists have been recreating it in tributes ever since Banksy’s “Little Diver” in Cocker Alley was destroyed in 2008.
Cocker Alley Banksy Tributes – Sunfigo above, Phoenix below
The first artist to document create a paste-up tribute images was Phoenix. Phoenix created an identically sized Little Diver figure that was revealed by the dripping paint that destroyed it. Phoenix continues to refer to the Banksy’s Little Diver, this time with a cross over reference to Warhol “Famous for 15 minutes comments.” (See “The Resurrection of Banksy’s Little Diver” by John Raptis.)
Earlier this year Sunfigo remembered Banksy’s “Little Diver” in a work that parodied the Melbourne City Council’s Laneway Commissions. Sunfigo is a good multi-layer stencil maker and knows Melbourne street art and graffiti history including references to HaHa, Hugh Dunit, Sync, Phibs, the notorious CCTV, and others, as well as, Banksy.
Melbourne street art performance artist, Bados Earthling has been creating his own tributes to Banksy with performances and songs. When a Banksy rat was destroyed in Prahan in 2012 Bados held a candlelight vigil in Prahran to mourn the loss. Bados Earthling and his band the Wild Audio Society’s have a Banksy tribute songs: ““Be Like Banksy” with the chorus “Where’s the Banksy?” Bados Earthling says “the most comonally asked question I get from the general public is where are all the banksy’s located… They never asked about any Austrtalian street artist.” (You can enjoy Bandos’s performances on YouTube.)
In 2010 another Banksy rat was destroyed in Hosier Lane, local street artists reproduced it and added other work commenting on it. (See my blog post: Street Art Notes July) Do all of these tributes to Banksy really contribute anything to Melbourne’s street art? Even though the tributes to Banksy by Phoenix, Sunfigo and Bados are all quality and nuanced works of art but repeating the legend of Banksy is not the subject of significant art. Apart from serving as a reminder of the hypocrisy of Melbourne City Council towards street art – and politicians eat hypocrisy for breakfast. There is an element of the cultural cringe in both the council and Melbourne street artist’s continual celebration of a visiting British artist.
Rather than dwelling on the past maybe these artists should think about the future of street art in Melbourne. Street art is ephemeral and has little room for history – maybe it’s time to forget about Banksy.
5 Comments | tags: Bados Earthling, Banksy, Melbourne, paste-ups, performance art, Phoenix, Sunfigo | posted in Street Art
Guerrilla gardening, urban interventions, performance graffiti: many of these wild and freaky ideas that are only now being realized on the street have been around since the Yippies and Mail Art in the 1960s, probably even earlier. Maybe these ideas have been floating around in an idealistic haze of the adolescent Dadaists a hundred years ago. And finally the praxis is possible for these strange utopic ideas; they are practical. These ideas never really worked before because of the limits of communications; underground magazines were underground. Only Fluxus had the celebrity names and the cheap communications, courtesy of the US military mail; until the internet came along, again, courtesy of the US military. Not to get all internet utopian about it but the impact can’t be ignored, see my post about “Street Art and the Internet”.
Nick Iltons "Suggestion Box" 2010 with peace sign
And if it didn’t start in the 1960s it happened soon after. Liz Christ and the Green Guerrilla group in NYC started guerrilla gardening and “seed bombing” in 1973. This was just a year after the first graffiti exhibition in NYC by the United Graffiti Artist group. (Maybe street art should be called “guerrilla decorating”.) The Wikipedia entry on “urban interventions” cites The Diggers theatre of San Francisco and the Dutch Provo movement as precursors. The Digger’s Free Store on Page Street, San Francisco, had a sidewall covered in frames called “Free Frame of Reference” The Dutch Provo movement were notorious for their happenings and white propaganda.
Amongst the many stranger street art activities currently in Melbourne there is Bados Earthling who calls his work “performance graffiti”. His character, a man from the future allows him to comment with confusion about the kind of activities that humans are currently engaged in. As Bados explains: “I’m like a child seeing something for the first time, with a million questions.” (See Invurt’s inteview with Bados.) Bados Earthling’s speech balloon blackboard creates a visual communication that the audience can participate and interact with.
Bados Earthling @ BSG Sweet Streets 2010
There are lots of these ideas floating around the collective consciousness like the spores of mushrooms just waiting for exactly the right conditions to germinate and fruit. “The question of ancestry in culture is spurious. Every new manifestation in culture rewrites the past, changes old maudits into new heroes…” Greil Marcus wrote in Lipstick Traces (p.21) and like Marcus I’m looking at the traces, the tiny amount that remains indicating the former presence of a thing. This is just an outline. It is an attempt to find or hunt down something.
And there are still stranger ideas that I have yet to trace amongst the drivel that various people from the 60s wrote (re-reading parts of Richard Neville’s Playpower has not been enlightening). What traces can we find in the past that explains present street art? And what new and strange will we next see on the street?
1 Comment | tags: Bados Earthling, Greil Marcus, guerrilla gardeners, Melbourne, Nick Ilton, performance art, pranks, pranksters | posted in Art History, Culture Notes, Street Art