Subverting brands and advertising had been around long before Brandalism as a project-based movement encouraged an international outpouring of dissent since 2012.
Yet the idea that advertising is innocuous persists; somehow the scale of big social pronouncements legitimises them. Why is it wrong to amend something so public and lubricious as an advertisement? As Tejaratchi points out, we don’t have a choice whether we see advertising or not. The further implication that public spaces are owned by advertising means that our eyes are not ours as soon as we step into the street. Often, we ignore reality and once we start down the road of psychological compromise how much easier is it to drift into darkness, all the while assuming that the world is as light as we’d like it to be?
The myriad of messages within the Brandalism project are underpinned by the basic premise that we should take notice of our surroundings. The power of subverting advertising is in changing our relationship with common images and symbols. If the viewer is made aware of a stark message subverting the everyday assumption of product sales then instinctively we start reading all advertisements as parody. An altered or recontextualised advertisement makes the lazy logic of any surrounding branding seem snide or sarcastic. ‘This dress will create success.’ Yeah, for who?
As a political refugee from the Middle East in the early 80s and then becoming an associate lecturer (2004–2015) and alumni on the Surface Design Programme at the London College of Communications for 15 years, Wilde has a unique view on the rise of street art as an artistic movement that reflects a rapidly changing society.
Describe some of the key moments in your development as an artist that inform you where your activity is now. Were there any particular artists or influences that propelled you?
I think first and foremost, continuing to be a printmaker for over two decades now is the major factor in my career. It has always been a journey in print for me and obviously this has had its wonderful twists and turns, that I often tell myself… printing got you here.
However, there have been several key moments in my career that have shaped and lead me to where I am. Probably the first was moving my handprinted clothing business from Camden to Brick Lane around 2006 and meeting, working and printing for the up-and-coming street artists of the time. They really made me think about how I could maximise my printing skills and think beyond inside the studio.
Also, the making of the Credit Crunch (2011) wallpaper/poster that marked the bitter end of my clothing business around 2009 and subsequently for it being acquired and exhibited by the Victoria and Albert Museum at their touring show, A World To Win (2016). That really highlighted the power that print has and also made me think actually, a small poster can hold a lot of impact and influence in spreading a message/cause.
My move to Hackney Wick in 2009 has obviously been a major influence in steering the type of work I have been doing outside of the studio since 2011. I think if I hadn’t moved here and not been affected by its rapid demise and gentrification I would have never done the work that has pushed me beyond my limits both mentally and physically to this day. I will forever be grateful for the experiences and the people that I have met and worked with in Hackney Wick however challenging and demoralising at times, as it has made me the human that I am today.