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Learning from Keith Haring: "Obey" from Ratner, #HelloBullshit, #GoodbyeBrooklyn, Nets/Crooklyn, and the critique of commodification

Visiting the Brooklyn Museum last night for an exhibition on artist Keith Haring's early work, I was reminded how Haring made a practice of drawing on the temporarily unused advertising panels in New York City subway stations.

The explanation:
In the subway, his personal, open-ended images alongside a blitz of corporate advertising made an implicit statement about the role of corporate culture in shaping the urban environment.
Well, what was an outlaw critique is now iconic fare for a museum.

The commodification of the Nets

Given such precedent, perhaps we should take more seriously the artistic/satirical responses to the relentless commodification of the Brooklyn Nets and the Barclays Center.

Let's start with the postcard-sized sticker featuring Bruce Ratner's face (above right), distributed at the 5/1/10 last night of Freddy's Bar & Backroom in its Prospect Heights location. Surely it was unwitting, but the shape of Ratner's head is not too far off from the "shield" used in the primary Nets' logo.

Now we learn, as you can see below, that "Brooklyn Will Become A Chant," as part of the "HelloBrooklyn campaign for the Nets.

It probably will, but wasn't "Brooklyn" already a chant, untethered to a sports entertainment corporation?

#HelloBrooklyn & #HelloBullshit

Activist and graphic designer Daniel Goldstein took the #HelloBrooklyn empty shield, unveiled before the actual logo reveal, and turned it into "HelloBullshit."

That's kind of pugnacious, and surely over the line for some people, but if Nets/Barclays Center CEO Brett Yormark is going to keep claiming that there were "34 lawsuits" (Ratner says 37; there were closer to ten), then "bullshit" is hardly out of line. Ditto for Ratner's claim that "the arena was made for hockey and basketball."

By Daniel E. Goldstein

The Nets logo and the Death Star

Here's the primary Nets logo:

Photographer/designer Tracy Collins took the logo and transformed it into Nets/Crooklyn, a reference to the Spike Lee film/song and subversive slang for the borough, substituting for the basketball a stylized version of the Death Star from Star Wars.

By Tracy Collins

Collins used the hashtag #GoodbyeBrooklyn, which was used by a couple of other critics of the new logo.

Minority voices, surely, amid the branding onslaught. No less reason to notice.