D*Face vs. the Chapman Brothers

What happens when a street artist gets ripped off by the Britart establishment?

dface vs the chapmans.jpgEast London artists D*Face and the Chapman Brothers are having a scrap over whose idea it was to graffiti over banknotes. In brief: Jake and Dinos Chapman made a big show of defacing £10 and £20 notes at the Frieze Art Fair this year and D*Face — who has been doing this for years — cried foul, telling The Independent:

I did a project in 2003 where I got £20 notes and defaced them before putting them back in the system. There were 20 variations of hand drawings and printing techniques in which the monarchy is satirised, with images of the Queen being hung, having her head chopped off. Last April, I marked her 80th birthday by showing her dead, with a skull and crossbones… It seems that inspiration for the Chapman Brothers’ latest work pays more than a striking resemblance to mine. But it’s just not as good and two years later. These are mainstream artists stealing from sub-cultural artists.

The Chapman Brothers have fought back, with Jake saying “Drawing on money is as original as graffiti and that is as old as the Caves of Lascaux. It’s not a great revelation to draw on money. It’s not original. What’s interesting is that because it’s unoriginal, it’s authorless. No one can claim ownership of it. It’s strange for someone to claim authorship of graffiti which is by its very nature an avoidance of the notion of authorship,” he said. He added the Frieze work could not have been inspired by D*Face’s work, because neither had ever seen any of it.

Now, subverting money is nothing new — hell, we used to get invites to the Sensateria club that were defaced dollars — but D*Face does seem to have a point. And, more importantly, he’s not getting to invoice for his work and the Chapmans are. So we asked him for a follow up quote on this story:

The point I was making when I saw the Chapman brothers ‘defaced notes’ was nothing to do with Graffiti, for them to pull a comment like that was laughable, just look at their background and mine. Nobody owns or should own graffiti, it’s power to the people, the the every man and woman’s freedom of expression, void of any need for an artistic background or gallery curator, so for 2 artists that have NEVER dabbled or even tried to do graffiti and have been carefully curated into existence they should be the last people to make a graffiti led argument.

When I saw the dead Queen note that they’d used for their press release and fed to their PR agency it it was simply a case of letting the pictures do the talking. There’s not a person out there that cannot look at the two notes and say that their note was not ‘inspired’ by mine. The fact there was a huge paste up at the bottom of their street that I put there over 2 years ago (and still remains today), makes the point of where they got their inspiration from very very clear. This is just another case of the establishment or the established stealing from the subcultures. It just so happened I know the art editor of the Independent and when she saw their note, she called me up as annoyed as I was to see this.

To claim they never heard of me is funny, my assistant works weekends in a trainer shop the Chapmans regularly go in, which is also near my studio, a few months back he had to walk with Jake Chapman to drop some shit they’d brought off to their apartment, as they walked along he mentioned he worked for me and pointed out the Dead Queen poster as reference to my works… but somehow they forgot this and who I am… convenient?

At the end of the day the simplest way to end this debate of authorship is to let the pictures do the talking, after all a picture speaks a thousand words.

We’re on the side of the angels with dirty wings…

With thanks to King Adz.

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16 Responses to D*Face vs. the Chapman Brothers

  1. Loeilalice says:

    Get over it!
    it’s the hstory of art and freedom to copy!
    THE impressionists came up with a then revolutionary idea and were “copied” by every minor and major artist of the time — and since!
    Everything is BORROWABLE, man – MAKE IT YOUR OWN, that’s the point…and take the compliment from those who “copy”.
    Cheers!!

  2. Ando says:

    The only thing laughable about this is that 90% of Dface’s “art” is completly unoriginal and very much what the average first year design student produces.

  3. dinos says:

    ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha e.c.t.

  4. D*2faced says:

    so far up his owe, how can he speak, sellout!!!!!!!

  5. winterlily says:

    in my world the # 1 “RULE OF APPROPRIATION” is…..

    ” if you dig it, it’s yours “………….winterlily 2008

    ……..anyway d’face and the chapman’s should go have a beer or two and collaborate on some work together…….but maybe that would actually be counter-productive for all their careers………because as we all know “war is a money making venture”………….maybe this is all just a marketing ploy for both party’s…………….

  6. Dave the Chimp says:

    the only issue here is that the Chapman Brothers press image showed a skull over the Queens face. Their project, if any body had bothered to dig a little deeper, was to draw on bank notes handed to them, then hand them back. so every note was different. and a one off original.
    showing the Queen as dead is hardly radical, especially not from someone who would organise an exhibition of photographs of the same woman!
    and have you ever seen the sculpture of the Dog with wings flying over a battle ground? If Jake and Dino wanted to be gay about it they could say that was inspired by their work.
    what a load of fuss about nothing!!! D could have simply come back with a print of the Chapman Brothers as skulls, and pasted it on their street. but that wouldn’t have generated the same amount of publicity as crying to the papers… pr is for cunts, newspapers are 90% bullshit, and anyone who doesn’t know this by now is an idiot
    but hey, we’re all talking about it, and all three of those artists are making money!!!
    who’s the sucker?

  7. Dave the Chimp says:

    oh! sorry, didn’t mean any offense to homosexuals!
    it’s a street term to refer to things that are weak, stupid, rubbish, etc as “gay”
    so that word now has three different meanings! ain’t the English language interesting!

  8. A to the K>>>>>>> says:

    christ almighty!
    to hear D(ick)Face complain about his work being bitten stinks of hypocrisy… he hasn’t produced anything original in his life(his influences stand out a mile), claims he is representing street art but doesn’t do anything, then rants on about the established british art scene while he peddles his shit to twats with more money than sense…

  9. wildeye says:

    d face is a fucking faker pretend graffiti writer
    i would not piss on him if he was on fire

  10. ju5one says:

    d face is lame for this.. over lame!.nuff said..

    fuck d(oh!!)face. props jake and dinos all day long.

  11. adam says:

    D*face wins. Go with the artist who did it first and did it better every day.

  12. Steve Maher says:

    As an artists I think its important to remember, who really gives a shit?

  13. au says:

    really, this seems like an excuse for street art to fight the “mainstream”. this would not stand up in court. and it definitely contradicts the cardinal rule of art.

    someone should pay off d*face with some vandalized bills

  14. What irrelevant rants and post… Skulls appeared on banknotes in Europe as early as banknotes were printed! money art collectors and billetophiles do have a plethora to swap, sell etc… Dface and the Chapman brothers are so un-originals!

  15. Zain says:

    Art is great. I would love to see the egg that the Chapman brothers made.

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