Back in July of this year Shepard Fairey and his OBEY team headed over to Copenhagen to exhibit at the V1 Gallery. During the trip for this solo show elements were documented on film and they are currently on a staggered release on Vimeo.
Two episodes entitled 'Copenhagen Good' and 'Copenhagen Bad' chronicle the trip and outline both the positive and negative aspects of the journey of the OBEY team. Whilst in the city, Shepard and crew painted a huge mural piece on a 70ft wall adjacent to a space vacated by a building formally known as the 'Punk House'. Known as Ungdomshuset locally, it was used as a gathering place for local left wing youths in years gone by. The building, from which it's previous inhabitants had been evicted and demolished, has been the cause of much angst in the city with many people being opposed to it's previous usage, it was even the centre of riots in 2006.
During the time painting the mural, Shepard and the rest of the OBEY team were subjected to abuse, vandalism and at one point violence after the media suggested (wrongly) that the mural was related to this dark history rather than the Iraq and Afghan conflicts which OBEY intended to address. The press had controversially made out that OBEY were collaborating with the local council, the very people who had evicted the inhabitants of the youth house and incited the 2006 riots, to draw a line under the issues of the past. In fact, the final third of the mural was to be worked on by re-located members of the youth house and Shepard took the time out to sit with some of those opposed to the work and calm any fears anyone may have had.
The finished mural was unveiled to the public with a launch party featuring live bands and Shepard playing a DJ set. Sadly more violence ensued afterwards and the team were attacked by a small mob which dispersed fairly quickly.
The following day artists from the youth house, known collectively as RaxArt, gave the team their proposal for the final third of the wall. The resulting piece depicted a scene consisting of riot police, which have no doubt made their mark on these artists' lives. This final third quashed any rumours that it was commissioned by the council as propaganda, and it marked the end of the Copenhagen trip.
Sadly other factions from the area disapproved of the final product and it was once again vandalized. It's a shame that the intentions of the mural could not be agreed upon by all members of the community and no matter which way the mural was finished the final work was not visualised as it was intended.
In my opinion it's foolish for an artist to present a creation and say, "here's my art! This is how you must interpret it!" Perhaps Shepard Fairey intended otherwise, but his choice of location and symbology fired up emotions that existed within the community. Vandalism aside, I see the reaction as a good thing. The misdeeds of the council were brought back into the limelight and people were strongly voicing opinions. Has Mr. Fairey forgotten what street art is about? - Bowery Boy