Brad Downey – Tour de force

brad downey - artotale

Pour ceux qui comprennent le français et qui ont du mal avec mon anglais approximatif,
je vous recommande la version en français en bas de page.

I’ve been a bit disappointed when discovering new Brad Downey piece on Just daily photo report for ARTotale.
What? Is it really finished? A giant painted Mac Donald’s ad!? No humoristic slogan? No sabotage by rats hanging around? No drips ?

brad downey 1

What is this piece about? Contrary to the people of Lüneburg we know Brad Downey. Is it not a real ad.
Brad, the University or the Festival organisation haven’t been paid by McD.
So is it to bring up the evil power of McD? Does it mean sponsoring a university or a soccer team is the same thing? Is taking money from private companies for education wrong?

brad downey 2

And I finally realised that –ironically- a commercial mural can finally be much more controversial & radical than a wall painted by a graffiti artist who is supposed to be an urban-rebel…!

brad downey - Mc Donald's

I contacted Brad Downey and I asked him a couple of questions:

Do the university and students enjoyed/understood your work?

Brad Downey: I have not heard any response from the university staff. So, I suspect they do not approve. Maybe they feel a bit cheated as I did not tell them what I wanted to paint. I maintained that my work would be created spontaneously.

The university students understood my work very well. I was very worried that the painting would be misunderstood by the students and my fellow artists. The University is undergoing a process of “Rebranding”. To my understanding, Leuphana has recently paid a large sum of money to design a new logo, name, and concept for the whole Universiy. Part of an effort to raise student fees. One student explained to me that it has been referred to internally as an Americanization of the old German school. And many of the students are unhappy about this. Some have made their own films addressing this same issue. Our ARTtotale, street art project, seems to be a part of this re-branding.

Do you think the wall will last long?

B.D.: I hope so. I think it’s a good work.

Have you already received any reaction from Mc Donald yet?

B.D: This work has nothing really to do with McD. I just wanted to insert “random logo with power.” It could have been any well know logo. I feel that many of the so called “street artists” do this anyways. They travel the world painting logos. So, I thought I should show up and just paint any logo.

Anything else?

B.D.: Special thanks to the The Wa (he helped paint the whole thing.)

brad downey

More about Brad Downey on ekosystem : interview [summer 2008]
All the photos by JUST (cc)

et en Français:

J’ai été un peu déçu et assez décontenancé quand j’ai découvert le travail de Brad Downey sur les reportages photos quotidiens de Just pour Artotale.

Quoi ? C’est vraiment terminé ? une pub géante pour Mc Do !? Pas de slogan rigolo? Pas de rats qui sabotent la pub ? Ni même de coulures ?

Quel est le but de cette pièce ? Contrairement aux habitants de Lüneburg, nous connaissons Brad Downey. Ce n’est pas une vraie pub. Brad, l’université ou le festival n’ont pas été payé par Mc Do. Est-ce histoire de montrer le pouvoir malfaisant de Mc Do ? Est-ce que ça signifie que sponsoriser une université ou une équipe de foot c’est la même chose ? Est-ce que ça dénonce le financement par des entreprises privées  des universités ?

Et puis j’ai réalisé que de façon complètement ironique (et un peu absurde), une pub pouvait être beaucoup plus radicale et sujette à controverse que les peintures réalisées par la crème des graffeurs qui sont sensés faire partie des derniers rebelles urbains.

J’ai ensuite contacté Brad Downey et je lui ai posé 2/3 questions.

– Est-ce que l’université et les étudiants ont compris et apprécié ton travail ?

BD : Je n’ai pas eu de retour du personnel de l’université. Du coup je pense qu’ils n’ont pas apprécié. Peut être que je les ai un peu trompé en ne leur disant pas ce que j’allais peindre. Je disais que mon travail allait se faire sur le moment de façon spontanée…
Les étudiants ont bien compris mon travail. J’étais très inquiet que mon travail soit mal interprété par les étudiants et les autres artistes invités. L’université est actuellement engagée dans une procédure de ‘rebranding’. D’après ce que j’ai compris Leuphana a récemment payé une grosse somme d’argent pour se faire dessiner un nouveau logo, un nouveau nom et ainsi avoir une nouvelle image. Une des conséquences est l’augmentation des frais d’inscriptions. Un étudiant m’a expliqué que la démarche avouée de l’équipe dirigeante de l’université était d’américaniser la vieille école allemande. Et beaucoup d’étudiants sont mécontents, d’ailleurs  certains ont tourné des films qui vont dans le même sens. Le projet ARTotale semble faire partie de leur campagne de « re-branding », de donner une autre image à l’école.

– Crois-tu que le mur va rester en place en longtemps ?

BD : J’espère bien, c’est du bon boulot je trouve.

– As-tu reçu une réaction de Mc Donald ?

BD : Mon boulot n’a pas vraiment de rapport avec McD. Je voulais juste mettre un logo quelconque mais qui a du pouvoir. J’aurais pu mettre n’importe quel logo connu. J’ai l’impression que beaucoup de ‘street-artist’ (c’est comme ça qu’ils sont nommés) font ça eu aussi. Ils voyagent à travers le monde et peignent des logos. Aussi j’ai pensé que je pouvais moi aussi me pointer et juste peindre un logo.

– Tu veux rajouter quelque chose ?

J’aimerais remercier The Wa qui m’a aidé à peindre le mur.

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18 Responses to Brad Downey – Tour de force

  1. Pingback: Brad Downey – Tour de force – From EKOSYSTEM « Latest News

  2. Obetre says:

    ” And I finally realized that –ironically- a commercial mural can finally be much more controversial & radical than a wall painted by a graffiti artist who is supposed to be an urban-rebel…! ”

    (Excuse my English, I m still learning) I can imagine that a wall painted by a graffiti artist is not necessary controversial and radical… sometimes just a decoration.

    But I still try to find the interesting point by painting a huge commercial logo such as Mc donald. I m really interested by the fact that Brad Downey wanted to talk about a social and economical situation in this city, in this university… that clearly is a global processes we can observe in most of all the big university in the world : the privatization. This privatization gives less public space for students and teachers to express themselves without economical and political pressures. This privatization gives less independence for teachers and students to study what they want without the obligation for them to be as the sponsor want them to be : the next employee and consumer of these sponsors.

    I really think that it’s good that a artist invited to create have the strength to create something about the social, economical and political context of creation. It isnt easy, you uselly finish as the guy that we didn’t have to invite, the marginal.
    For this reasons I was happy to discover few weeks ago this work of Blu : talking about the context ofthe city where he is painting. I don’t want to say that Blu have the only way to talk about the context of creation.
    The idea of Brad Downey is interesting, at least the “will to do” is good.

    But, I m still agree with …”What is this piece about? Contrary to the people of Lüneburg we know Brad Downey. Is it not a real ad ”
    Who’s going to understand the work of Brad Downey ? And how ? Most of the visitor and even more in the future will see just another Mc donald ads. Maybe Brad Downey and some other persons will remember and talks about the idea of the artist… but this work will act as a Ad most of the time, and will work in the way that B D wanted to criticize. Ther are a big contradictionis , too big I think.
    And something else : “This work has nothing really to do with McD. I just wanted to insert “random logo with power.” It could have been any well know logo. I feel that many of the so called “street artists” do this anyways. They travel the world painting logos. So, I thought I should show up and just paint any logo. ” What is this ? If their just one thing really clear for everybody who look at this painting, is that this work has to do with Mc Do… Is it a sort of artistic Nihilism?

    As a conclusion, I will say that I was interested about the intention of B D but really the realization is completely wrong.
    Anyway, thanks for the interview of Brad Downey, I understand a bit more the processe of creation of this work.

    One day I will speak english…

  3. EE says:

    I was loving seeing you playing the “antechrist” in this event 😉
    I think it s a good work too ,
    in my mind, it s only understandable in this event moment only , in this “ambiance”..
    If you saw this wall alone on a picture, you lose all the comparison effect;
    …people will think it s stupid ;(
    you have to see this piece in the middle of the other walls, to really enjoy it

  4. Some people could find it shoking but in fact that was the way people did publicity in early twentiest century in France. And now those commercial Dubonnet paintings are like patrimonial stuff to conserve.
    Back to the roots, would have said some of us !

    What does the Brad piece said ? That publicity frighten you more when it’s directly painted on the wall than when its a daily sponsor of the institution… just on the corner of the menu of your lunch.

  5. Koleo says:

    I kinda like what people said before. I guess that without the context, most people would be shocked to see a fast-food logo on an university. If it was a real commercial it would be a really stupid one, no one would enjoy it. In the future, if the wall survives, once no one would remember ARTotal, it’s gonna create smart reaction form people, they are gonna hate it, not the painting but the logo.

    And I love this red… I prefer saying this kind of silly things in English, it looks less dumb.

  6. Ufff… this is heavy

    I guess this is one of the few ways to be controversial within “street art”

    I think this is great! This piece grows on my day for day…

    At first I was also thinking “what the fuck?? Is this it??”

    – YES it is!

    It’s a perfect way to communictate his message!
    Truly interesting – I’m lovin it!

  7. By the way – also very interesting to note that this is the ONLY piece creating a fuss – none the least within our own community!!

  8. beck says:

    Good for you Brad, that Zevs didn’t add drips during the night. lol !

  9. Pingback: rebel:art » Blog Archive » Akim & Brad Downey in Lüneburg / Update

  10. GiG says:

    May be, the story about privatization of universities is secondary. The first aim might have been to shock people, to create a buzz around his name… It worked.
    But, i really think that this piece is more a critic of “classic” street art or graffiti, which consists as B.D. said to put your own logo everywhere. Street “artist” are often (not all) just branding, trying to get up as much, like space invader putting his aliens everywhere or trane and cli burning france. They do the same than mcdo or dubonnet, they try to make us see their name everywhere (the streets or internet..). The more up you are, the more tshirts or toys you sell, or the more invitations from festivals you might get…

  11. I disagree with you GiG
    my buddy David Renault and I we made a piece on the university of our town two years ago about the same question : privatization of university (
    but instead of the true logo « Contrex‘ » which is a French water brand we put a « Contre ‘ » that was more explicit because in French « Contre » means « against ». Anyway the way of asking the question here is more radical.

    Clearly it’s not the same “street art logo” that most street artists put again and again in the streets like some advert for their ego.
    Downey look to be far from this – that kind of guy who try not to do the same twice in deed.
    I think that the real difficulty of pieces thought for a specific context, that it is not as easy to understand as usual, beacuse you cannot post it without explanation of the situation all around blogs.
    Most of art in urban space have to be like that. What a pity, most of them are “universal” (I mean understandable for any one that cross them one Internet because there created in english, no matter were they are created).

  12. GiG says:

    Hi Mathieu,
    Don’t get me wrong, i know brad art and i like most of it. I know that he is always inventive and not just only reproducing the same logo. (Even if he likes to get up writing everywhere “brad downey was here.”… )I also like this McDo piece. I just don’t like the explanation above. I doubt about the fact that his first motivation was to fight against privatization of universities. And if its the true motivation i think the piece is not that good…Your piece “contre'”, is way more explicit, we can easily guess that you are “against” the entrance of firms in the universities. Here, Eko had to interview Brad to understand the motivation of his piece. It’s not selfexplanatory (i doubt about the existence of this word…). May be, he should have write his motivation on the wall instead of this logo…
    May be he is too much subtil for me.

  13. eat the future says:

    street art = experience art in the street

    in the net you only see the output, as it does not move, smell,… . hehe, like that

    @beck : perhaps he could have a try….. nice quote….

  14. Re GiG

    In fact It make me thought about about the contemporary political artist Hans Haake and his Marlboro piece. But for him it was more explicit because the white cube is a lab, and the piece becomes a pure concept without any misunderstooding possible because the Whole White Wall is here to show art not publicity.
    (we can have an argue on it but in fact I don’t really care about what tension could happen between publicity and art in gallery because those subjects are the reason why I prefer to act in the city ; if you want to interrogate the relation you have with advertising, there is no better place than the street)
    Finally that’s maybe that radicality of his piece that could make it violent or misunderstoodable…
    beacuse there’s no way to read it as other thing than an advert. The more efficient for the political situation of university. People start to worry directly ; they might say : “Fuck the privatisation as began, I don’t want a Big Mac Master” and might begin to protest. The tensed situation might give sens to his action in the future (if people throw some paint on it to protest for example).
    For our piece it’s more about : “Look artists are making art by subverting a logo and support explicitely our cause”.

    Looking at all posts here I can imagine the argue directly in the campus and finally I prefer Brad one !

    To conclude if it’s about activism and media visibilty, I think that in the get up energy of graffiti (yeah!) Cli and Trane are the best because we all know them by experience not by images.
    I’m going in the south next week and I can’t wait to watch all train station full of their tags and throw-ups.
    But for me the “city burning” fight is over I prefer make less art/graffiti but better. Most of us cannot be Trane or Cli. And what point indeed ? Do we need more of them, they are talented in primitive style as a few styler are. Here I prefer to watch, be surprised and make the things were I’m good.
    No need to be king instead of the king – perhaps more to be artists instead of Mc Donalds ?

  15. MOMO says:

    This is why I love Ekosystem. I will try to remember (Mathiew Ripoulain’s) “interrogate the relation” phrase, to describe curiosity in any situation. Way to go Brad. Thanks Eko for the interview.

  16. Pingback: Brad Downey & Leuphana-Politics « Berlin based Streetart / Urban-Art Blog

  17. ema says:

    yeah great idea Brad.. i need to paint my room, it s just 3 for 2.5 meters and i would like one of your great concept of STREET ART.I SEE YOU FILL IN VERY WELL I CAN PAY 7 EURO FOR HOUR.

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