While the Kardashians are off gallivanting through their ancestral homeland of Armenia, an artist has been gaining popularity for his new series that targets the infamous reality stars and their celebrity status. Based in Los Angeles, he refers to himself as Plastic Jesus, and no, that is not a joke. He has developed a series in which the typical “no parking any time” signs are changed to read “no Kardashian parking any time.”
At first, the signs seemed quite comical, and I took them as a bit of a joke. There is something appealing in the subtle and lighthearted approach Plastic Jesus takes in critiquing America’s obsession with the reality stars. A parking sign is harmless, and those who notice get a good laugh out of it. The Kardashians, by virtue of building an empire with virtually no talent, open themselves up to being the butt of many jokes, and this one is funny. I thought it was just a satirical comment on how much the Kardashians inundate daily life. After looking at the rest of Plastic Jesus’ work, however, this is more than just a silly satirical comment on the all-too-famous celebrity family.
One glance at the artist’s website and it’s clear that Plastic Jesus has a bone to pick with celebrities. It should be noted that Plastic Jesus’ website is a field of red flags. It is plastered with praise-filled quotes from various sources. Some of those sources are credible while others are not. The boldface quote from Buzzfeed is not exactly a confidence builder. An artist that publicizes himself so much on his own website makes it seem like he takes his reputation more seriously than he takes his art. After swallowing the bitter pill of inauthentic praise, I saw that his website is also full of typos and grammatical errors. It’s all very impressive.
Even after I got past the lack of professionalism in the design and content of his website, his work, too, left me unimpressed. Plastic Jesus seems to have a personal vendetta against celebrities of all kinds. There was a large amount of attention placed on his controversial Oscars statue, which depicted the golden statuette figure snorting cocaine, with a plaque inscribed with “Hollywood’s Best Party.” He placed it out on Hollywood Boulevard right before the Oscars. Other pieces of work include an Oscar statue injecting itself with drugs, a massive roll of money and a credit card lying in loose “cocaine,” as well as a stencil painting of Lance Armstrong hooked up to an IV on his bicycle. All of his work is politically or culturally charged. Everything is controversial. That gets old. He even sells shirts printed with the phrase “Stop making stupid people famous” in his online store. Any artist who sells merchandise makes me nervous, especially when it is as unappealing as Plastic Jesus’ is.
Looking at them as a singular series, I enjoy these anti-Kardashian parking signs. I can’t criticize them for being pointless or ill-conceived. They are conceptual and clever with a clear purpose in mind. If I am judging Plastic Jesus as an artist, however, I cannot say I am a fan. His body of work is overwhelming and perhaps overly dramatic, and the messages of his art seem forced. Are some of his perceptions about modern society true? Sure. None of them, however, are terribly original. They all revolve around fame, wealth, drugs, etc. His work, stylistically speaking, is typical of street art, but there is nothing original about it. Check out Plastic Jesus’ website and see his controversial work for yourself.