Street artist vandalizes GTA IV billboards to make a point about black violence

So-called ‘guerrilla street artist’ TMNK has defaced a billboard advertising Grand Theft Auto IV to make some sort of point about black-on-black violence. According to the self-styled “Nobody,” this “art” speaks out about terrorism, black violence and how nobody cares. Or something. I don’t ever claim to “get” this kind of “fringe” stuff.

A perfectly legal Billboard advertisement promoting a video game where the participants commit acts of violence, for fun. And scrawled on it a message that is considered illegal, vandalism. One message paid for by a business who simply wants to make money, regardless of the cost. The other, written freely, in hopes of sounding an important alarm, despite it’s potential cost to the author.

I have to hand it to TMNK. If anything is going to stop black people from shooting each other, a scrawling on a New York videogame billboard is going to do it. If only more billboards had been drawn on before now, Tupak would still be alive

Seriously, I’m not sure exactly what TMNK is trying to prove here, especially with his swipe at Rockstar, who are apparently advertising GTA IV “regardless of the cost.” If someone can actually tell me why this is intelligent and provocative, I’m all ears. Personally it seems unfocused and absurd to me, but then, most of what we call “art” these days seems that way. 

As for the subject of street violence, I’m perfectly fine with it, especially gang crime. So long as gangs carry on keeping it amongst themselves, it’s pretty much just natural selection.

Jim Sterling