Killer princesses invade Stockholm streets
Published: 19 Jul 2013 16:10 GMT+02:00
Updated: 19 Jul 2013 16:10 GMT+02:00
Graffiti paintings of Disney’s fairytale princesses brandishing guns and knives have been mysteriously appearing on walls around Stockholm, garnering global attention after photos went viral on Facebook. The man behind them is a Swedish Street Artist known only as “Herr Nilsson”.
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The mysterious artist spoke with The Local via Facebook.
What are you trying to say with your work? Some people have speculated you’re saying “Don’t trust anyone”, others reckon it’s a criticism of pop-culture. Who’s right?
I like these discussions – and they are both right. Because of my kids I´m surrounded by toys, games and movies for the moment. Of course there’s a lot of creativity in the toy and entertainment industries for children - but most of the cartoon characters, female in particular, are very stereotyped and predictable. Always so innocent, fair and harmless. The Dark Princesses are a comment on violence, but they are also a comment to how we look upon good and bad in the world. Everybody expects a fairytale princess to always look good and behave well. If I was one of them I would revolt after a couple of days. And in my world they do.
Your mascot is “Herr Nilsson”, the pet monkey of Pippi Longstocking, holding a Molotov-Cocktail in his hands. Why?
My daughter has a cuddly toy of Herr Nilsson and he was with us everywhere a couple of years ago. She could not be without him. He is a harmless character compared to Pippi in the stories. That made me start to think of the revolting monkey, throwing a burning molotov cocktail at Villevillakulla with Pippi’s ponytail as a fuse.
So Herr Nilsson is rebelling against his owner?
My main intention was to let a harmless creature act very violently. Why he did it is up to you as a observer to interpret. But yes, your reading sounds reasonable.
Say, how old are you?
I can’t tell you that, I’m afraid.
Alright, so when did you start with Street Art?
I started about 1 and a half years ago. The monkey with the molotov cocktail was my first piece.
I have created a lot of exhibitions in different types of galleries but these ideas didn’t work out there. I wanted to stage a situation where my artwork interacted with people on the street and the real environment, not a fictional environment in a gallery.
Were your pictures similar to those you’re doing now or something different?
I have worked with a lot of media but it has always been images, mostly drawings and paintings. Sometimes a gallery or museum is great but then the audience is prepared to look at art. But when you put up a piece in the street you talk directly to the audience without that prepared shield. The street audience also includes people without any interest in art, the ones that never would go in to a gallery or museum.
So, galleries and museums are outdated because they do not reach the public?
In Stockholm the discussion about art is very cramped. It’s highly intellectualized in the newspapers. If you travel down to Skåne in the south of Sweden art is enjoyed by ordinary people without any education in arts. Everybody can talk about the pieces without having the feeling that they don’t understand. Sometimes the works of art demand a very high level insight or preparation, like Bruce Nauman for example. He is great, but my pieces in this project are comments about violence, good and evil, feminine and masculine. I also use very strong symbols from pop culture and cartoons. These comments and symbols are for everybody, not only the art audience.
Stockholm has a “Zero Tolerance” Policy to Street Art, in 24 hours a picture is supposed to be removed. Ever thought of doing your art in another city?
Yes but it’s more of a practical thing because I live here.
If someone would ask you to put your street art in a gallery, would you do it?
I have been thinking of it and it has to be solved in an other way. These pieces are made for the specific sites.
In your opinion, how should the city handle street art?
Like a voice. We have the right to say what we like. In the public space it´s only rich companies who can speak to the public with their brainwashing ad campaigns.
But they pay for the advertisement space.
Yes of course. It means that only the rich have the right to speak.
By Steffen Daniel Meyer