Late last week, two unauthorized skeleton Oscar statues appeared in Hollywood, one atop Runyon Canyon and another in the parking lot of Mel's Drive-In Hollywood.
The nameplates were signed by D*Face, a moniker used by a British street artist, who may or may not be Brad Pitt (more on that later).
On Saturday, after a safe exit from America, the artist gave his first interview to NBCLA.com:
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Q) Why just two statues? After finding them, we assumed there was a third or fourth just waiting to be discovered.
A) The initial plan was to make more, maybe eight, but you know these took huge amounts of time and the sort of planning that normally goes into stealing art, not donating it -- not to mention plenty of money and I simply couldn't afford to make more than two. I mean hell, if someone wants to give me some hard cash, I'll make 83 and drop them all next year!!
Q) Why Runyon Canyon and Mel's Diner? LA is a big town with plenty of landmarks.
A) Simple, I had one day to decide where I wanted to put them and not knowing LA that well, I decided I wanted to put one as close to the actual Oscars as I thought physically and safely as possible, and one that overlooked the whole of LA and would be a stark contrast to the other location. I had to weigh up the practicality of installing them over risk of getting caught and how long they might potentially last for. Both Runyon Canyon and Mel's Diner ticked all the right boxes.
Q) It seems like no big deal to put a statue in a parking lot. Getting one atop the ridgeline of Runyon is a different story. How'd you pull that off?
A) Mel's, no big deal? Have you seen how many security guards are standing just across the road? Installing a 7-foot Zombie Oscar right under the noses of the most amount of security in Hollywood in one place at one time took serious planning. Admittedly, Runyon made the installation in Mel's seem like a walk in the park(ing) lot. Runyon on the other hand, involved a four-hour trek, camping out overnight with just bubble wrap to keep warm, waking up at the crack of dawn to scale the face of the highest point in the canyon to drill, sink and glue ground anchors into the peak in order to bolt and chain the sculpture in place. I guess the point is anything is possible with a little determination and a large amount of stupidity.
Q) How did you come up with the idea for this project? What's the back story that led to this?
A) The Oscar ceremony represent the pinnacle of superficiality within the so-called "film industry," where formula and money triumphs over independent creativity and risk. These sculptures are donated to all the actors, actresses and filmmakers of the City of Lost Angels whose talents will never see the light of day. Never give up the struggle, believe in your dreams, try and break the system and remember if all else fails, resort to plastic surgery -- it seems to work!?!
Q) Why officially own up to the project now? Being out of the States obviously helps, but there could still be consequences.
A) I'm not officially owning up, but it was fairly obvious someone called D*Face did it, as it had my name on them -- but it could easily be a "stand-in" acting on my behalf, or Brad Pitt answering the questions.
Q) The timing, the visuals, the engravings -- the simple-takeaway is that this project is a statement on vanity. As the artist, what's the not-so-simple takeaway? What were you trying to say with this project?
A) I could go into the social and metaphorical dialogue between me the artist, the sculptures and the intervention of public space and how I wish to encourage the viewer to engage with their surroundings, forcing them to "look" and not just "see," but the simple point was to give the city of Lost Angels, two pieces of sculpture that I hope remain in place, and for them to serve as a constant reminder that beauty is skin and not silicone deep.
Q) Is this the last LA has seen of D*Face? What comes next for you as an artist?
A) Hell no! This is just one of many trips. I've been to LA before and left my mark, and this is by no means my last visit. I love LA. I'll be back.