The Los Angeles Police Department caught and arrested two French nationals vandalizing buildings with “buckets of grout and pieces of tile” near the LA Museum of Contemporary Art’s Little Tokyo gallery this past Friday. One of the vandals seems to be the famed French street artist Space Invader, reports the LA Times.
Space Invader is known for installing his little icons, replicas of aliens from the early Space Invaders video game, on buildings all over the world. But this time, he seems to have invaded the wrong space. The LA Times writes, “The pair were released while the investigation continued, and Richter said officials were checking with federal immigration officials to see if they had flown back to Paris.” So the alleged Space Invader was arrested and his marks found on other buildings in the area, including on the Geffen Contemporary, but the artist is possibly out of the country already.
The pair of French “vandals” were thought to be in LA for the occasion of LA MOCA’s controversial Art in the Streets show, an exhibition which seeks to chart a history of street art but may not have entirely succeeded. The exhibition has attracted the attention of street artists and graffiti writers, who haven’t held back from blanketing the area around the museum with some non-commissioned works of art. Artist Katsu made a target of the MOCA building itself in an epic tag.
I think part of the reason artists have targeted LA MOCA and the Little Tokyo neighborhood is because of the missteps of the Art in the Streets exhibition itself. The exhibition, museum-appropriate as it is, leaves no room academically or curatorially for the anarchy inherent in street art and graffiti. Such a buttoned-up show is a natural icon for real, living street artists to known down, and that’s what they’re doing. MOCA set out the provocation, and they’re answering. It’s just that when the street art is outside the museum, it’s a crime. Sorry, but that’s a hypocrisy that the museum tacitly endorses by making no statement against it. Maybe this incident will actually spark LA MOCA, led by street art impresario Jeffrey Deitch himself, to react.