Hacking the Spectacle: an interview with Darren Cullen

Colin Revolting and Tony Aldis interviewed artist Darren Cullen, who works under the name Spelling Mistakes Cost Lives, at his latest exhibition in the WAR gallery in unfashionable South London.

Called a “Corbynite cartoonist” by The Sun and a “Britain hating anarchist who knows the value of nothing” by Tory MP Johnny Mercer after he showed his work at Momentum’s The World Transformed festival in September 2016, Darren uses the language of advertising to make art about the “empty promises of consumerism and the lies of military recruiters”.

Whilst training for a career in advertising he became “steadily horrified at the ethical implications involved”, and instead began to use the techniques he had learned to subvert and satirise it. “I see advertising as being a kind of horrible glue which holds it all together: miltarism, neoliberalism. It’s the Spectacle”. In the interview Darren describes himself as “a conscientious objector in the war against consumers”. One of his main themes is advertising by corporations and the army which targets children through psychological or emotional manipulation.

His next project is launching the Anti-Thatcher museum. “I wanted to start this project because I think there’s going to be a serious need to counteract the whitewashed version of Thatcher’s legacy the official museum will present”, says Darren. “It’s unlikely the official museum will address Thatcher’s unflinching support for brutal regimes like the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia, that of Augusto Pinochet in Chile or apartheid South Africa. They’re not going to talk about Thatcher’s implementation of the first anti-gay law in 100 years, Section 28, which was almost identical to Russia’s recent anti-LGBT law. They won’t address how Thatcher oversaw two recessions, massive levels of unemployment, raising poverty and inequality, the devastation of UK manufacturing, deregulation of banks, the Poll Tax and the privatisation of everything from basic utilities to social housing.”

A longer in-depth version of the interview:

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