Interesting Ideas

Rap rant 4K JPG More from "77x7"

Another view of 77x7

Furama rant 10/27K JPG
Yes, the sheer weirdness of this stuff is part of what makes it interesting -- it's plenty funny bizarre -- but there is more to it than that.

It's clear the intention in these missives wasn't to make art, yet the compulsion to communicate, the determination to express no matter what, would well serve any artist. The spiritual fury that powers these visions -- however bizarre the messages and however seriously one may refuse to take them -- achieves a kind of transcendence that few artists attain.

77x7 uses magic marker to write his messages on the back of nightclub posters, then he staples and tapes them to light poles up and down Chicago's Western Avenue and nearby streets. The US Beings PTL man handed out his message in a thick sheaf of Xeroxes several years ago on Michigan Avenue.

Ruby's melons 4K JPG

Their visions touch ordinary life only incidentally, as raw material for a higher message (which in itself would seem to be part of the definition of significant art). Each in his own way makes a formal statement -- 77x7's work is testimony to the supremacy and transformative power of words. For Us Beings PTL's apocalyptic history, words seem more incantatory than imperative, and he adds drawings to illustrate his words; his combination of typewriter text and simple drawings embody a pure, raw form of strangeness.

It remains easy, of course, to laugh them off, to ignore the substance of these expressions (or to reduce them to generic oddness) while enjoying their aesthetic merits. But there is a way in which, despite the skepticism the messages merit, their pure moral rage compels attention to what the artist is saying. One may remain unconvinced, but perhaps not unmoved, when faced with this awful fury over the deadness of TV or the bland decadence of nightlife.

That most of us consider something perfectly comfortable does not make it right, and to see ourselves or our culture or our society from a totally different perspective, even if a bizarre one, is an opportunity for self-criticism that our common sense usually precludes.

More from Us Beings PTL


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