<body> Public Ad Campaign: According to the Toronto Star, When People See Dan Bergeron in the Street, They Seethe and Stomp Away in Disdain
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Monday, May 11, 2009

According to the Toronto Star, When People See Dan Bergeron in the Street, They Seethe and Stomp Away in Disdain

This post comes from Rami Tabello of Toronto's illegalsigns.ca. The long story short is Fauxreel, or Dan Bergeron was active in Canada as a street artist and then produced an ad campaign for Vespa that was almost indistinguishable from his personal street work.


Support comes from the public as well. On Queen Street West, a passing cyclist hears Mr. Tabello talking about billboards and stops to congratulate him on his efforts.

“Commercial activity or captivity?” by Susan Krashinsky, The Globe and Mail, June 2, 2008

We covered the Fauxreel sellout issue before, namely in Fauxreel Sold Out For Real where we noted that Dan Bergeron’s fellow street artists had a thing or two to say about his decision to become a blatant criminal shill for Vespa. The issue was also covered by Torontoist and by Anne Elizabeth Moore.

The Toronto Star has now written an interesting article about Bergeron. First, Bergeron uses the opportunity to piss on his critics:

Not long after being outed, one of Bergeron’s personal pieces, a woman in profile with a gravity-defying mohawk pasted up near Dufferin St., had scrawled on it the street-art equivalent of a scarlet letter: “SOLD OUT FOR REAL.”

Bergeron shrugs off the debate as juvenile. “Some people feel like they have to have a certain reaction if something is commercial – because they’re too cool,” he says.

Then this remarkable tidbit from the end of the story:

Bergeron squats low, pasting the boots of his subject to the wall on Dowling St., when a young woman crosses the street and beelines towards him. “I just wanted to come up to congratulate you,” she says. “I’ve seen this all over. It really makes a statement.”

Bergeron quietly thanks her and turns back to his paste, when a young man in a fedora and cargo shorts approaches. “Is that the same ad for the scooters?” he says, glaring. Bergeron just smiles. “Yeah, man. It is,” he says. The man stares, seething, and stomps away. Bergeron slathers the last of his paste on the image’s toes, and moves on to the next.

Actually, some people feel like they have to have a certain reaction because it’s not just an unmitigated criminal sellout — it’s an unmitigated criminal sellout that threatens public support for street artists. Perhaps Dan Bergeron can explain to us how IllegalSigns.ca can campaign against illegal advertising and support street art, when the ads are camouflaged as street art. That’s why Dan Bergeron’s corruption is a collateral attack on IllegalSigns.ca, and that’s why people seethe when they see Dan Bergeron, and that’s why they stomp away: because Dan Bergeron was an irresponsible, selfish asshole whose criminality pit public space activists against street artists, and who then had the hauteur to call us “juvenile” and “too cool” for pointing that out. You may think it’s “juvenile,” but we’re not the one who is counting Vespa’s money in our basement while fending off random haters on the street.

My thoughts are as a street artist, reclaiming public space for public consumption, you can't also be taking public space for private commercial means. The two ideas mutually exclude each other in their efforts and therefor confuse the intent of the artist. To think that as an artist you can practice such different ideal, shows ignorance to what you are actually doing as a street artist and ultimately depoliticizes your work.

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