When it comes to street art, conservative politics is not something that immediately springs to mind – if at all. Born out of struggle and deprivation, this form of artistic expression has always been associated with speaking out against power, rather than to it. For Banksy, the biggest name in the world of street art, it is only through reclaiming public space that the voice of the underclass can be heard. Well, someone obviously forgot to send Sabo the memo. This self-described rebel artist with a decidedly conservative axe to grind continues to take his political agenda out into the streets of Los Angeles.
A little while ago, Sabo took aim at the people-should-be-treated-fairly love-in that is the Oscars. With his mock-up Academy posters, passers-by could be forgiven for thinking that what they were seeing was just another piece of Oscars promotion. But go in for a closer look, and the words lifted from Quentin Tarantino’s True Romance take the gloss right off: “All those assholes make are unwatchable movies from unreadable books.” Sabo also tried to land further blows by placing posters on movie-rental kiosks throughout the city, imploring customers not to spend their money on Hollywood’s latest offerings.
This is all old hat for someone like Sabo, who has been trying to make waves for nearly a decade now. But posters that come out in support of Trump and take aim at those at the bottom of society is not the sort of thing that is going to warm hearts and bring people together. The notorious President Trump poster that was used at bus stops – which sees the man himself blissfully dismissing protesters with two middle fingers – perfectly embodies Sabo’s art for no one’s sake.
All of this rabble-rousing has gained some traction in the conservative press, but in a town where the outrageous is just another industry, this sort of political bluster has all been seen before. What is radical, however, is Sabo’s cheap repackaging of street art as a sort of battle cry for those with all the power. In doing so, Sabo has deluded himself into making the big dog the underdog. But I can think of one beleaguered billionaire who might not have a problem with that. Chris Prindiville