XVALA is a contemporary artist who is known for using controversial celebrity images and artifacts in his work and for his "Fear Google" campaign addressing loss of privacy in the Internet Age. The artist has cited his concerns about the public nature of personal information in the Internet Age as the driving force behind the campaign but also says that he does not believe in censorship. XVALA describes his work as belonging to the "Post-PC era".
XVALA's real name is often reported to be Jeff Hamilton but this claim is disputed. The name "XVALA" is an internet tag created by the artist for the purpose of exclusivity. The XVALA tag was not originally tied to any URL or email address and generated zero search results. XVALA gave meaning to the tag by creating unique content that eventually connected to the internet through search engines.
One of XVALA's earliest and most enduring uses of a controversial celebrity image was the display of a photo of Britney Spears with her head shaved, taken by paparazzi in 2007 and later placed online, where the artist found it. In 2011, he used nude photos of Scarlett Johansson that had been hacked from the actress' phone and leaked publicly online, posting multiple copies of the photos in public areas across Los Angeles with "Fear Google" stickers covering her breasts and buttocks. He called his use of these types of images a "disruptive innovation". Later that same year, he used garbage gathered from the homes of tech industry pioneers Mark Zuckerberg, Larry Page and Sergey Brin, Steve Jobs, Jack Dorsey, and Jimmy Wales to create an exhibit called "The Not Very Well Hung Hangers of Silicon Valley". The name of the exhibit comes from its cornerstone piece, a wire hanger from Mark Zuckerberg's trash that XVALA painted Facebook Blue and bent into a phallic shape.
In 2012, XVALA used garbage collected from the home of Steve Jobs, along with a mold formed by the Chinese company M.I.C. Gadget, to create a sculpture of the Apple CEO. He then produced multiple copies in both Apple White and Apple Black (intended to represent the 2010 suicides at Foxconn) and sold them as part of his "Think Different" exhibit. The project was doubly controversial because M.I.C Gadget had already twice been forced to halt production of the sculptures due to cease and desist lawsuits brought against the company by Apple. XVALA also created art from Kim Kardashian's garbage in 2012, appropriating a deflated basketball and using it to create a piece titled "Slammed and Dunked".
XVALA gained international attention in major media outlets in 2014 due to his plan to use nude photos of Jennifer Lawrence and Kate Upton at his "No Delete" exhibit in St. Petersburg, Florida. The photos had originally been stolen from storage in the cloud and leaked online. Both XVALA and his publicist, Cory Allen, denied that the exhibit was intended to be exploitative and, on the contrary, was meant to open discussions about the nature of celebrity and art especially with relation to questions of privacy, freedom of speech, and content ownership. Nevertheless, the exhibit ignited backlash in the form of petitions and a boycott. Due to a combination of legal and ethical concerns, XVALA later decided not to use the photos of nude celebrities and substituted pictures of his own naked body.
XVALA has been compared, for both positive and negative reasons, to a number of prominent artists. Due to his tendency toward appropriation art, he is often compared to Marcel Duchamp, Andy Warhol, and Richard Prince. He also has been compared to Banksy for his occasional forays into street art.
Notes and references
- Lahri, Shilpika (June 2011). "XVALA WAS HERE". SOMAMagazine.com. SOMA Magazine. Retrieved 2014-11-09.
- Kosin, Julie (2014-09-04). "Photos from the Hacking Scandal to be Exhibited by LA Artist". HarpersBazaar.com. Hearst Communications, Inc. Retrieved 2014-11-09.
- Romero, Dennis (2014-09-03). "Stolen Jennifer Lawrence Nude Photos to Be Exhibited by L.A. Artist". LAWeekly.com. LA Weekly LP. Retrieved 2014-11-16.
- Linton, Gregory (2011-11-26). "Interview With Street Artist Xvala: Nude Scarlett Johansson Art Is 'Disruptive Innovation'". HuffingtonPost.com. Oath, Inc. Retrieved 2014-11-22.
- O'Donnell, Nicholas (2014-09-09). "Can Copyright Aid Kate Upton, Jennifer Lawrence, and Other Victims of Celebrity Photo Hack?". Blog.SandW.com/ArtLawReport. Sullivan & Worcester (Law Firm). Retrieved 2014-11-16.
- Bennett, Lennie (2014-09-05). "St. Petersburg art show to feature hacked nude celebrity photos". TampaBay.com. Tampa Bay Times. Retrieved 2014-11-16.
- Lahri, Shilpika (June 2011). "LAST WORD: XVALA". SOMAMagazine.com. SOMA Magazine. Retrieved 2014-11-16.
- Arnowitz, Leora (2014-09-04). "Leaked nude photos of Jennifer Lawrence, Kate Upton to be showcased at art gallery". FoxNews.com. FOX News Network, LLC. Retrieved 2014-11-09.
- FEAR GOOGLE by XVALA (featuring hacked nude photos of Scarlett Johansson). YouTube.com. CoryAllenCACA. 2011-09-20. Retrieved 2014-11-16.
- Hill, Kashmir (2011-09-27). "Artist Invades Tech Founders' Trash For Sculpture Treasure". Forbes. Retrieved 2014-11-09.
- "Artist XVALA Creates Embarrassing Mark Zuckerberg 'Manhood' Piece". TheTwistGossip.com. 2011-10-08. Retrieved 2014-11-09.
- Murphey, David (2012-09-29). "Steve Jobs (Action Figure) Returns From the Dead". PCMag.com. Ziff Davis LLC & PC Mag Digital Group. Retrieved 2014-11-09.
- Hein, Buster (2012-09-27). "Artist Pledges To Show Controversial Steve Jobs Trash Statue". CultOfMac.com. Cultomedia Corp. Retrieved 2014-11-09.
- Popescu, Adam (2012-09-27). "5 Reasons Steve Jobs Would Have Liked His New Statue". ReadWrite.com. ReadWrite. Retrieved 2014-11-09.
- "Kim Kardashian's 12 Step Program to an Art World Takeover". WMagazine.com. Condé Nast. 2016-10-21. Retrieved 2017-07-30.
- Vincent, Alice (2014-09-11). "Nude Jennifer Lawrence images taken out of exhibition". Telegraph.co.uk. Telegraph Media Group Limited. Retrieved 2014-11-16.
- Yahr, Emily (2014-09-05). "Artist plans to showcase stolen Jennifer Lawrence, Kate Upton photos in gallery exhibition". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2014-11-09.
- Blum, Haley (2014-09-04). "Leaked nude photos of Lawrence, Upton headed to art gallery". USAToday.com. USA Today. Retrieved 2014-11-09.
- Gascot, John (2015-07-21). "CACA: The World's First PR Gallery". HuffingtonPost.com. Oath, Inc. Retrieved 2015-01-06.
- Bennett, Lennie (2009-09-14). "Artist will not show hacked naked celeb photos after all". TampaBay.com. Tampa Bay Times. Retrieved 2014-11-09.
- Taylor, Derrick Bryson (2014-09-02). "Plans for hacked nude celeb selfies exhibit scrapped". PageSix.com. NYP Holdings, Inc. Retrieved 2017-07-31.
- Frank, Priscilla (2014-09-04). "Artist To Exhibit Jennifer Lawrence's Leaked Nudes As Art Because The World Is A Dark Place". HuffingtonPost.com. Oath, Inc. Retrieved 2014-11-16.