Coilhouse Interview: Molly Crabapple Discusses Art, Occupy, and "Shell Game"

In September of 2011, shortly after launching a highly successful Kickstarter campaign, our intrepid chum Molly Crabapple locked herself into a hotel room in New York City for a week, eventually filling 270 square feet of paper-covered wall with her art. Yesterday, IDW published  The Art of Molly Crabapple, Vol #1: Molly Crabapple’s Week In Hell, a book chronicling the whirlwind project (with beautiful contributions from several more Coilhouse friends: photo documentation by Steve Prue, a cover shot by Clayton Cubitt, and a foreword by Warren Ellis).

Last week, Molly returned to Kickstarter to launch Shell Game, a crowd-funded art show about the massive ongoing international financial meltdown. For Shell Game, she plans to create “nine giant paintings about the collapses and upheavals of the last year, then rig out storefront like a gambling parlor and display them to the city and the internet for a week.” Shell Game is an experiment of sorts for Molly, who is keen to fund large scale, labor-intensive work without having to depend on wealthy collectors. This type of crowd-funding is, she hopes, “a way of finding Medici in the crowd.”

“The Great American Bubble Machine” by Molly Crabapple, the first of nine in her Shell Game series.

As they did with Week In Hell, $1 contributors get to peep at Molly’s progress through a backers-only blog with livestreamed painting sessions, and those who donate larger amounts receive incrementally impressive artistic rewards. With well over a week still left to go, the campaign has already raised well over 50K through backers small and large. DANG.

Today on Coilhouse, Molly Crabapple tells us more about the Shell Game campaign, and shares related thoughts about the nature of Occupy and the future of art… and vice versa.

Molly’s “Vampire Squid” stencil, as seen at various Occupy camps all over the world.

You’ve mentioned that, until 2011, you weren’t comfortable with making political art, that you were “afraid of being hypocritical, propagandistic or boring.” Can you tell us a bit about the specific thought process that changed your mind? Was there some particular catalyst, or was it a gradual shift in perspective?
I’m an essentially capitalist little hustler who likes Louboutins and who draws frivolous things, sometimes for very rich people.  For a long time, I felt this if I made “activist art” it was straight up radical posturing.  I didn’t want to win cool points on someone else’s movement.  So I’d donate money or sell work for charity, but hide any subversive thoughts in a whole lots of illustrative metaphor.  My thoughts started changing when I painted The Box in London.  Suddenly I was drawing straight-up parodies of the British class system on the walls of what would be one of the world’s most depraved nightclubs, while being given a privileged view of the student occupations by the unspeakably brilliant journalist Laurie Penny.  Suddenly avoiding politics in my art seemed like a cop-out.  Wikileaks, Wisconson, and finally Occupy Wall Street meant that upheaval was hitting America.  I had to engage.

Has there been any criticism thrown at you about your means of involvement? If so, how do you engage with that? 
I’ve had a few people call me an evil latte liberal or whatever, but honestly, who cares.  The idea that you have to be a vegan saint to care about having a vaguely just world is just a way of making sure no one does anything.

"Fresh Guacamole" By PES

Showtime returns with the second season of Short Stories, their series of short, animated films. They also brought back PES and his stop-motion wizardry to follow up last season’s beautiful “Deep”. This time around it’s Fresh Guacamole, a simple recipe for the ever popular, grenade-based party dip.

Via Cynical-C

Bonus BTC: Every Single Deadwood "Cocksucker" Ever Uttered

Shown in order of appearance, here are nearly eight full minutes of “Cocksucker”s (with a righteous  “Fuck you, sir!” cherry on top). Three Deadwood seasons’ worth.

Mesmerizing, isn’t it?

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(SFW, provided you’re on headphones. Via Dusty.)

BTC: Reformed Whores

Photo by Kristin Doennelly

NYC-based southern belles Marie Cecile Anderson and Katy Frame have a musical comedy duo called Reformed Whores. As such, they “sing about everything from venereal diseases to drunk dialing with sweet harmonies and old-timey flair.”

“I’m a Slut” is their shame name-repurposing, smile-until-it-hurts rebuttal to Rush Limbaugh, Santorum, and their ilk. YAAAAAAAAY, SLUTS!

Moebius — 1938 / 2012


“We artists can only go so far as the people can follow us. We are not alone, sildenafil we are part of the system. We can take risks, sick but if you want to go to the peak of your consciousness, view you may very well find yourself alone. Even if you know how to translate what you see, maybe only ten people will be able to understand what you tell. But, if you have faith in your vision, and retell it again and again, you will start noticing that, after a time, more people will begin to catch up with you.”

~Jean Giraud / Moebius / Gir

The Conjurations of Guy le Tatooer

Knots, keys, insects, and magic numbers: the work of Toulouse-based Guy le Tatooer is full of secrets. Too studied and obsessive to be dismissed as a meaningless †Δbleau of woo-woo symbols, Tatooer’s work radiates power, magic and history.  The style seems to be inspired by retro tattoos (especially, it seems, this image of Maude Wagner, a circus performer who became first female tattoo artist in the United States, and her partner, legendary tattooist Charlie Wagner) as well as the anatomical drawings of Ernst Haeckel, traditional Mehndi patterns, a page or two from Histoire de la Magie, and much more.

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Guy le Tatooer’s work was recently exhibited at the Gimpel & Muller gallery in Paris. For the exhibition, le Tatooer created silicone casts of his arm and tattooed them using the traditional electric system method. The tattooed arms were displayed in glass-covered, velvet-lined boxes with ornate carved frames, resembling fancy display cases for pressed butterflies.

Recently, Berlin-based tattoo arts collective AKA released a pack of temporary tattoos that includes an extra-weird design by Guy le Tatooer, as well as pieces by several other talented tattoo artists. More images of le Tatooer’s work, and a video, after the jump!

Bad Romance: Women's Suffrage by Soomo

Slick, thoughtful, and surprisingly moving, the following Gaga parody music video pays “homage to Alice Paul and the generations of brave women who joined together in the fight to pass the 19th Amendment, giving women the right to vote in 1920.” (Sharing this feels like a good way to acknowledge International Woman’s Day!)

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It was conceived and produced by the Soomo Publishing group, a small team of educators and designers who create next generation learning resources that can be used as textbook replacements, or to supplement them. More info:

In 2010, Soomo Publishing launched a parody music video called Too Late to Apologize: A Declaration. The result was a viral hit and remains a popular teaching resource for history teachers and political science professors across the United States. The response was so overwhelming that Soomo decided to follow it up with Bad Romance: Women’s Suffrage.

[ via Katherine McKinley ]

Kate Bush's "Wuthering Heights": The 36-Minute Masterpiece


It’s Kate Bush’s “Wuthering Heights” slowed down to a crawl by Looking at Blue from the Kate BushNews and Information forum.

This technique never fails! Whether it’s Justin Bieber’s “U Smile” or a dial-up modem, the result is transcendent.

If this isn’t quite your speed (hurr), try the metal version of Wuthering Heights, performed by Angra.

[via Geeta Dayal / Dangerous Minds]

The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore

Winner of the 2012 Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film, William Joyce and Brandon Oldenburg’s The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore tells the story of a young man whisked away (along with the rest of his town) by a great wind. In a desolate, gray landscape he is lead to a library full of living, flying books and becomes its caretaker, all the while writing a book of his own.

Beautifully told without words, the Lessmore has both the look and mannerisms of a Keaton-esque silent film star. The books, too, are imbued with a fantastic sense of life, despite their limited ability to emote. Lessmore’s main, Humpty Dumpty-like companion is especially well done, the flipping of illustrated pages allowing it to portray more complex emotions. Along with an understated score, it’s a lovely, sweet story. I had meant to watch this before the Oscars, and seeing it now, I find it most deserving of its honors.

Seo Young Deok's Bodies In Chains

Seo Young Deok’s work utilizes chains of various sorts (though, most commonly, bicycle chains) welded together with painstaking precision. His figures are superb, they have a fluidity that shows a deep understanding of the human form. They also scream volumes about weight. Many of them are bent underneath it, seem to be in danger of being crushed by a heaviness equal to that of the materials they are comprised of, their faces — if they have one — seem to hint at some great inner turmoil. It’s a stark, often grim collection of work, but beautiful nevertheless.

Via Street Anatomy