It turns out overnight someone in Bulgaria turned this:
Turning a Soviet War Monument into the modern-day Justice league of Capitalism. I cannot divine who the completely yellow man on the left is, but the rest, from left to right, seem to be ersatz versions of the Joker, Wolverine, Santa Claus, Superman (with a gun!), Ronald McDonald, Captain America, Robin, and Wonder Woman.
By any definition, this is vandalism. I also think, by any modern definition, this is art. And it is not just art for art’s sake, but rather a clear comment on the evolution of the former Soviet Bloc countries; probably Bulgaria in particular. Where before the monument recognized the Communist overlords, so to speak, now the monument recognizes the new string-pullers: the Capitalists. McDonald’s, Time-Warner, Disney, and the entire toy industry.
Many Americans don’t see the trouble in prosecuting vandalism. But it really is two of the most basic American principles in sharp contrast: Freedom of Speech vs. Property Rights. More problematic is the fact that this is probably public property, so the artist theoretically owns a small piece of it as a taxpayer. Furthermore, this is a speech with a real message, a true warning on the trappings of Capitalism, not just a CHAKA thrown up on the back of a bus.
England’s Banksy is the most famous of these street artists. Making a movie, making an international hunt for his identity, making a introduction for a Simpson’s episode, of all things. Making money for a lot of people. And some point, is he still on the hook for simple vandalism if he gets caught, or does he contribute to a greater good? Not only with the high quality of the art, but with the intellectual message his art often implies (whether we agree with it or not). Should that be “Vandalism” under the law? Especially if he actually adds to the value of the wall, by really giving someone an internationally marketable piece of work.
Or by updating a monument that brings your city international attention and potentially new tourism, as I can’t imagine the prior Soviet War Monument was still a tourist draw?
Probably wouldn’t win, but it would sure be a fun argument to make!