Q&A With Alan Ket: Art, Censorship and Murder

BY Led Black (@Led_Black)

Q. When you created the mural, did you foresee such an uproar?

A. Not at all. I did think it would create discussion but I never imagined the police becoming involved.

Q. What was your initial reaction to the taking down of the mural?

A. I was angry at the police for taking the mural down when I had already agreed to re-paint it later in the week. I feel that their actions violate my right to freedom of speech and it’s upsetting. I understand the business owner’s perspective that they do not want any further issues with the 34th precinct nor any additional police contact as well as the landlord saying the same and I respect their point of view. It’s a shame that it had to happen in the way that the police chose to approach the situation. It shows a lack of respect for process and free expression.

Q. How did the Fela musical influence the piece?

A. Fela’s music is anti-oppression and in the musical there was a scene where the cast members carried caskets onto the stage to recreate the day that Fela took his murdered mother’s casket to the steps of the corrupt government. The caskets that were carried on stage included dictators, petroleum companies, and the names of people recently killed by police and others (Sean Bell, Trayvon Martin). It was a very powerful image and I chose to use the casket element on the wall.

Q. In some ways, the taking down of the piece helped to foster dialogue? Do you see it that way or not?

A. Yes, and I am glad that we are having that dialogue. However it turned the conversation into one of censorship and oppression from just one group and we are not speaking about the other “murderers” that I called out on the mural such as BP Oil, Shell Oil, poverty, Haliburton, Koch Bros, the International Monetary Fund, war, Monsanto, EPA, ATF, McDonalds, etc. When I speak about murderers I also want to acknowledge that I am including it in all its forms and not just to humans but to all living things.

Q. What is the next step for you as far as creating a new mural?

A. I need a new wall to re-create the wall that was removed as well as one to address the issue of censorship. I’d also like to have one re-done in the park if the owners will allow me to.

Q. Anything else you want to say?

A. We (Noxer, 3ese, and I) painted this wall for the young people in the neighborhood that do not have discussions with adults about killing or violence beyond the local gang/drug discussions. Those are important but what about the discussions about police brutality, wars being waged by our government, oil companies killing people in foreign lands for their resources, Monsanto introducing new GMOs that can have tremendous impact on our health, the EPA refusing to address climate change, the FDA approving drugs that kills people, imperialism, etc. We need young people to understand what is happening in the world around them. They read the walls and know the art form that I practice and pay attention more than the adults sometimes do so this wall is for them, it is for their sake.

Related:

Cops Paint Over Inwood Mural That Depicts NYPD as ‘Murderers’ – DNAinfo.com New York.

Uptown Artist – Ket

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