People are apparently still losing their heads over the whole fnnch controversy, as the Artists Television Access window display houses an installation of a ubiquitous honey bear getting guillotined.
It’s been a few months since the backlash against street artist fnnch faded from the headlines, but someone’s poking the bear again. In a recent stroll on Valencia Street, SFist noticed that the front window display of the nonprofit theater and gallery Artists’ Television Access (ATA) has an installation depicting a fnnch-style honey bear on the bed-plank of a guillotine, beheaded, and gushing blood.
The windows’ north-facing side display reads “Guillotine All YIMBYs Since Honeybears Always Mean Eviction.” The first letters in black highlight the artist(s) taking credit for the work, loosely organized rabble-rousing collective Gay Shame.
There’s also an artist’s statement in the flyer slots of ATA’s door, which reads as follows:
“Presented in the ATA window on Valencia Street in San Francisco is a stuffed, human-sized rendition of fnnch’s Honey Bear. It is decapitated by a guillotine. Glittery blood streams from its severed neck. We say FUCK FNNCH and all gentrifying forces in the City.
Fnnch’s ‘cute art’ is not the innocent beautification of the urban landscape, its autonomy as art-for-art’s-sake is illusory and deceptive. It’s all a public relations smokescreen disguising dispossession, displacement, and destruction that benefits investors, developers, and other capitalists (AKA YIMBYs, the State’s BFFs)”
Despite the condemnation of cute art, above we see what’s in ATA’s other window. We’re not sure how long the fnnch-referencing display has been up, how long it will stay, or whether it is part of a gallery show. SFist has reached out to ATA for comment, though their website indicates the facility is still closed over COVID-19, and their film screenings are currently virtual.
If you’re not familiar, Gay Shame is the local offshoot of a late 90s New York-based movement of the same name, which is a turn of the phase “Gay Pride,” and its roots lie in protesting the corporatization of Pride and the broader mainstreaming of gay culture. You might recall their “Queers Hate Techies” stencil campaign of years past. It’s not their first wink-nod “Maybe we’re threatening violence, maybe we’re not” public art messaging, as their 2015 Brogrammers Off The Block flyer campaign featured the phrase “You are hereby advised to leave the Mission. Your next warning will not be so polite."
Take your pick: Keep the @fnnch #NFT? Or swap for a fnnch painting?— MakersPlace (@makersplaceco) June 12, 2021
The choice is yours with an exciting new series of honey bears, "Tulip Bear" !
Preview and learn more now - Drops next Wednesday 06/16 👇👇https://t.co/I2VywuoUBX#NFT #CryptoArt pic.twitter.com/Q2oPDqxBnZ
There’s certainly angst in the gay community that the straight artist fnnch has been commissioned to paint on LGBTQ spaces, though those LBGTQ spaces invited him to do so. And releasing work in the crypto-techie NFT field (as seen above) will generally be seen as a shark-jumping moment for a street artist. But the argument that fnnch plays an active role in gentrification and displacement seems a stretch, though will likely always persist after his April verbal gaffe “I’m from Missouri. I immigrated here. I’m an immigrant to San Francisco.” (He’s since apologized.) And as fnnch’s work catches on nationally, he will remain, simultaneously, the city’s most beloved and despised street artist, probably until someone whose work is more popular comes along.
Image: Joe Kukura, SFist