A poster urging straight white men to ‘pass the power’, comes from a taxpayer-funded charity project organised by two white men.
The black and white artworks were put up in Southwark, London, and Bury, Lancs, earlier this week by charity Artichoke Trust – which received £3million from a government art grant.
They are part of a project called ‘The Gallery’, which has been masterminded by the charity’s curator Bren O’Callaghan and creative director Martin Firrell.
Firrell is known for text-based artworks, one of his more famous pieces, ‘All men are dangerous’, was displayed in the Tate Britain in 2006.
He was responsible for choosing 10 artists whose artworks to be showcased on billboards, digital screens and bus-shelters across the UK.
O’Callaghan’s interests lie with ‘counterculture and activism’ and he aims to inspire wider engagement and foster collaboration.
The ‘Hey straight white men’ artwork is by an artist called Nadina who hails from Marseille.
On Instagram Nadia said: ‘The theme for the first Season of The Gallery is Straight White Male and I created a piece titled “Hey straight white men, pass the power!” because I want us as a society to challenge the idea that straight white men are the best people to hold positions of power
‘I also want straight white men to to be more proactive about passing the power to other people who might not have access to it because they don’t have the same privileges as they do.’
The black and white artworks were put up in Southwark, London, earlier this week by artists
Artist Martin Firrell who is behind the Artichoke Trust, which has put up the art posters
Bren O’Callaghan in horror style make-up is the other figure behind the Artichoke Trust
Nadina Ali is the artist behind the work and hails from Marseille and is exhibiting in London
The images came to wider attention after a picture of one of them was put online by author Douglas Murray on Twitter.
One incensed social media fan asked: ‘Which straight white men is this imperative sentence aimed at?
‘What ‘power’ is to be ‘passed’? To whom is the ‘power’ to be ‘passed’?’
Another angered Tweeter opined: ‘London seems so disconnected with the rest of England.’
Finally one social media user exclaimed: ‘I have no power. They’re talking about the wealthy elite 1%.
‘They have power, we do not. Why don’t they address them specifically rather than lumping all of us together when 99% of us don’t have an ounce of power we could give in the first place?’
Twitter reaction with confusion and anger after the poster was put online for all to see
The trust modestly describes itself online as a ‘Producer of extraordinary public arts events’.
But research from the Taxpayers’ Alliance claimed it had been given £3million from a government art grant.
Campaigns manager Elliott Keck told Tom Harwood on GB News the Arts Council should be defunded.
He said: ‘Our policy response is very simple, the Arts Council should be defunded.
‘So it costs we think about £4-500 million a year and that’s money that could be put back into taxpayer’s pockets.
‘Taxpayers will use that money that they see in their pay packets to consume culture, go to museums, go to art galleries, go to shows, whatever it is.’
He also said: ‘It speaks to a problem in the culture of government according to which only the state can provide art, culture, museums, sport, whatever it is.
‘If the state stepped back and said actually let’s leave the British public to decide what should be art and culture, they’re just not going to do it.
‘The British people understand what art and culture is and they’ll pay for it if they have the money.’
In response, a spokesperson from Artichoke, The Gallery said: ‘The artwork in question is one of 10 artworks by 10 different artists and is part of the first exhibition of The Gallery.
‘The Gallery is a new kind of cultural institution without walls, that asks critical and urgent questions about the society we live in.
‘For this first exhibition of The Gallery, we invited artists from around the world to respond to the theme ‘Straight White Male’.
‘The artworks displayed in the exhibition represent a varied, nuanced and thoughtful response to this theme.
‘By working with the Out of Home industry, displaying these images on advertising sites around the UK, The Gallery removes traditional barriers for the public to experience and see great art.
‘We’re not asking that the public should necessarily agree with the statements in any of the artworks, just that they should think about and debate the ideas.
‘The full collection of all 10 artworks may be seen at www.thegallery.org.uk.’