A good prank attempts to shed light on issues to change perceptions or awareness by jolting sensibilities. MutualArt pays homage to Joey Skaggs’ April Fools’ Day Parade. In 2017, it became real with Trump’s Golden Throne.
A Look Behind Some of the Biggest Pranks in Art History
by Adam Heardman
October 8, 2018
Pretty-much-anonymous street artist Banksy was back in the headlines this weekend thanks to his self-shredding picture. We take a look at other classic art-world pranks that have confounded and delighted through history.
As a street artist and activist, Banksy’s career has consisted almost exclusively of anti-establishment pranks and stunts. On Friday evening, at Sotheby’s Contemporary Art auction, the hammer fell on a print of his Balloon Girl image at a price of $1.1 million. Seconds later, an alarm sounded through the room and the print began feeding through the bottom of its own frame, inside which was a hidden shredder, leaving half of the work in ribbons.
Promptly, the piece’s value doubled. Commodification appears to move as quickly as protest in the contemporary market-place.
Speculation already abounds as to how far Banksy collaborated with Sotheby’s in setting up the stunt. It certainly seems far-fetched that the auction house’s handlers wouldn’t have noticed the machinery in the frame.
But the impact of the prank has been huge, bringing Banksy his biggest burst of media-attention since Dismaland closed. His market-value has increased. Haters have been won over. The search for his true identity is back on. All in all, it’s been a successful prank.
As a space in which publicity, politics, and aesthetics can meet, ‘the prank’ is an established mode within the art world. Here are some of the more prominent and successful examples from art history.
1. Hogarth and Wilson’s Rembrandt Roast – Read this here.
2. Joey Skaggs’ Fake ‘Fake Parade’
Joey Skaggs is the maybe the most prolific prankster out there. Over the years, the performance artist and writer has staged the thieving of celebrity sperm, “attempted” to “windsurf across the Pacific”, and exposed Western racism by fooling people into thinking that a Chinese businessman was buying dogs to make into soup.
Every April Fools’ Day since 1986, Skaggs has held a Parade with floats, banners, streamers extensive press coverage and pertinent contemporary themes. Except that the Parade doesn’t ever actually take place, existing purely within the press-hype. Fake News.
Until last year, that is. In a neat reversal of his own prank, Skaggs actually did hold a real-life parade on April 1st, 2017 after 31 years of pretending. The march functioned as a protest against Donald Trump’s presidency and was also the largest gathering of Trump-look-alikes in history. The imposters marched to Trump Tower and sat tweeting on golden thrones. Maybe Joey Skaggs’ greatest prank was to make Fake News real.
3. Stromberg’s Stickers – Read the rest of this article here.