Interview with Satirical Artist Darren Cullen
Hi Darren! It’s great to hear you will be involved in Art the Arms Fair this year. Could you tell us a bit about you and your work?
I make funny things about terrible things.
Why did you get involved in Art the Arms Fair?
Quite simply because the arms trade is the most staggeringly obscene industry on the planet, and arms dealers shouldn’t be able to get away with holding these slick, lobster-and-champagne fuelled expos about their latest murder gadgets without anyone trying to stop them. I think what the activists involved in Stop the Arms Fair are doing is incredibly important and inspiring and I want to be able to help, and stand alongside them in any way I can.
Tell us about the art you’ll be sharing through our exhibition this year.
I haven’t fully confirmed what I’m showing this year but I hope to show some work from my Empire Air installation in Munich last year, a sort of neo-colonial travel agency “in collaboration with” Boeing and Airbus. Two companies that take us abroad to new holiday destinations while also manufacturing the weapons to wipe those destinations off the face of the Earth.
Could you share with us some personal highlights of your work?
I guess some things I’m most known for would be my Pocket Money Loans payday loan shop for kids, which opened in a few places around the country, including Dismaland.
Action Man: Battlefield Casualties, a short film based on some satirical anti-war toys I made, directed by Price James and staring the excellent Matt Berry.
And more recently my Mini Daily Mail, which was a sort of boiled down version of Britain’s angriest and horniest newspaper.
What artists have particularly inspired you?
I think I was corrupted as a child by the Spitting Image Giant Komic Book, which my mum bought me by accident from an Asda clearance bin when I was 9. I’m obviously inspired by political satire by the likes of Chris Morris, and artists like Blu, Robin Frohardt, Maurizio Cattelan, the Chapman brothers…
What power does/can art have, in your view?
I think satirical art has power when people laugh with you at the absurdity of a situation or policy. If you can make them laugh they’re halfway to agreeing with you.
What are some feelings or actions you’d like to inspire in others with your art?
Ideally I’d want to inspire others into action, to putting themselves in the streets, joining protest groups, blockading arms factories. Or just making their own protest art and putting in the streets, ripping down advertisements and replacing them with their own slogans and artwork. Any and all forms of resistance basically.
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