In Brief

Street Artist Covers Bill Cosby Mural with a Grinning Kim Jong Un

The edited Bill Cosby mural, as seen yesterday afternoon (photo via @faazzla/Instagram)
The edited Bill Cosby mural, as seen yesterday afternoon (photo via @faazzla/Instagram)

For one afternoon, the grinning face of Bill Cosby on a mural owned by Washington, DC’s famed eatery Ben’s Chili Bowl was hidden under Kim Jong Un’s beaming visage. As Borderstan reported, street artist “Smear Leader” plastered a cutout of North Korea’s Supreme Leader on the restaurant’s wall some time yesterday, following up with a post on his Instagram, captioned, “Kim’s Chili Bowl. Instead of looking at a sexual predator, people can celebrate in jubilation that the great leader is now on the their Wall. Eat shit Cosby.” The defacement was short-lived, however; according to News4, a friend of Aniekan Udofia, the artist who painted the mural in 2012, removed Kim’s face around 5 pm.

The Bill Cosby mural on the side of Ben's Chili Bowl, painted in 2012 by Aniekan Udofia (photo by the author for Hyperallergic) (click to enlarge)
The Bill Cosby mural on the side of Ben’s Chili Bowl, painted in 2012 by Aniekan Udofia (photo by the author for Hyperallergic) (click to enlarge)

The owners of Ben’s Chili Bowl are no strangers to backlash toward the image of Cosby, which they have kept up while other institutions — from Disney to New York University — have removed all traces of the disgraced comedian. The Washington Post‘s Tim Carman offers some insight into why the establishment might choose to retain a portrait of an accused serial rapist on the side of their restaurant, writing that the surviving members of the family-owned business think of Cosby, who has been a regular and a deeply loyal patron since the 1950s, as part of their circle, and that some “want to stand by their friend in his darkest hour.”

As yesterday’s cover-up demonstrates, however, the neighborhood doesn’t seem to agree. Many people praised Smear Leader, who works solely with stickers and wheat-paste stickups of a grinning Kim, on his social media accounts. As the Daily Beast describes in a recent interview with Smear Leader, the artist has an “obsession” with Kim and his regime and consequently decided, Hanksy-style, to poke fun at him through street art. It seems that in this case, however, Smear Leader was almost willing to break from habit: in a Facebook post this morning, he noted that his apparent Plan B was a sticker of Edward Snowden.

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