Street artist Plastic Jesus took on one of his favorite annual targets, the Academy Awards, over the weekend.
His pop-up art at Melrose and Stanley avenues in the Fairfax District recalls the segregated drinking fountains of the Jim Crow South (and elsewhere), juxtaposing such a fixture, labeled “colored,” with a Hollywood vanity, labeled “white.”
The British-born artist describes the piece in a statement as “two wash basins on a street in Hollywood that replicate an iconic 1950s photograph showing the segregation between whites and non-whites in the U.S.A.”
He said it was inspired by Elliott Erwitt's famous photograph of segregated drinking fountains.
The piece comes as the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences is under fire for lack of diversity among the Oscars' acting nominees, who are all white. It's the second year in a row in which this has happened, inspiring a reprise of the #OscarsSoWhite social media campaign.
“I've had an amazing response to the piece — mainly support,” Plastic Jesus told us. “However, some people have considered the piece to be pointless because 'racism no longer exists.'”
“America prides itself on its diverse population,” he said. “But sadly much of the U.S. is still very racist. … The visibility of Hollywood and the celebration of the Oscars should show how the U.S.A has embraced diversity. Clearly it hasn’t.”
His past pieces have criticized Hollywood for sweeping drug-use problems under the rug.
The artist says he'll install another piece, based on an Oscar statue, on the streets of L.A. in the days before the Academy Awards.