Joseph DeLappe

Artist of the week.

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Joseph DeLappe is an artist who is taking his war commentary to the people. His statements about the Iraq war and American culture are frequently directed at the individual.

Following in the example of Gandhi, Delappe’s protest work is non-violent and sometimes features acts of civil disobedience. One of DeLappes popular protest works is the stamping of US currency with logos that suggest we are being followed by drones, that we are ‘sinking,’ or as a continuation of the “Hands up don’t shoot” movement.

Stamping political messages on currency may not be technically illegal according to at least one constitutional lawyer (http://www.slideshare.net/clenchner/bill-stamping-legal-opinion). This lawyer was commissioned by the website ‘The Stampede: Stamp Money out of Politics,’ which is head by activist and ice cream magnate Ben Cohen of Ben & Jerry’s fame. Stamping currency could amount to civil disobedience because it is a legal gray area. Also, stamping currency is quite symbolic. The imagery used on currency around the world frequently features national heroes, iconic landmarks, or depictions of historic events. Currency represents the power and identity of a nation. Stamping political messages on currency is an attempt to start a grassroots movement where ‘the people’ get involved to make political change.

Another set of work by DeLappe focuses on digital media. In other attempts to raise grassroots support the artist uses online multiplayer video games to get his message out. Wither it is pretending to be Gandhi on Second Life or typing the names of dead soldiers on America’s Army, the artist clearly has a target audience. DeLappe is careful to choose non-traditional yet highly symbolic ways to display his political messages.

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