The Musealization of Street Art: Changing Space, Shifting Perception

Invader and His Mosaics

     One France-based artist gains his inspiration from 8-bit video games, and treats his art like a game. He keeps his identity closely guarded and goes by the pseudonym Invader (1969-France), a name taken from the 1978 arcade game Space Invaders. Despite his insistence to remain anonymous, Invader’s works can be seen in high profile locations spanning across sixty-seven cities, in more than thirty countries. Though mostly active in European cities, Invader has spread his mosaics from New York to Sydney, Hong Kong, Tokyo, Mombasa, Varanasi, and Sao Paolo.

     nvader got his start in the early 1990s, after graduating from École des Beaux-Arts in Paris, though in his ‘about’ section on his website, he explains that he attended a tiling school on Mars. [1] Unlike many other street artists, Invader has carved his spot in contemporary art by putting up mosaics of famous pixelated videogame characters. His first piece appeared in the 1990s in Paris. It was an image of a Space Invader from the Arcade game.[2] This was largely unnoticed at first, and it was not until 1996 that Invader thought up his famous invasion scheme, code-named ‘Space Invaders’.[3] According to Invader, this project is ‘about liberating Art from its usual alienators that museums or institutions can be. But it is also about feeing the Space Invaders from their video game’s TV screens and to bring them in our physical world’.[4] Slowly, Invader developed a detailed process in which he explores an urban center and ‘invades’ it. As described by Invader himself, his invasions are ‘a detailed process’ which ‘take a lot of time as it is a long scouting process’. He typically stays in a city for two to three weeks, and places anywhere from twenty to fifty of his original creations throughout the city, during his so-called invasions. He compares his operations to ‘urban acupuncture’[5]. His first invasion happened in 1998 in Paris when, almost overnight, mosaic versions of the villains of the game Space Invaders appeared all throughout the city in both high-traffic areas and quiet street corners.[6] Since his first invasion in 1998, he has invaded New York City five times, Hong Kong three times, placed numerous mosaics on the Hollywood sign in Los Angeles, travelled around the world, and even sent a mosaic to space in 2015 to be housed on the International Space Station.[7] Answering the question ‘is there a message behind his works?’, Invader replied that he did not have any meaning and that he was not openly political but, rather, that he was more interested in artistic experimentation, that he likes the idea of decontextualizing art and to bring it to a wider audience.[8] Invader is also known for the creation of a new art style, which he has named ‘Rubikcubism’, in which he arranges several Rubik’s cubes[9] into a mosaic.
           
     When asked by Sven Schumann and Johannes Bonke, founders of online interview magazine The Talks, if he wanted to be part of the ‘art situation’, Invader responded: ‘if you mean “art history,” yes I always wanted that. I love art and art history and I always wanted to dialog with it. If you mean “art establishment,” no, this cannot be an aim in itself in my opinion’.[10] He instead prefers that his art remains accessible, stating: ‘there are very few people going to see shows in art galleries and museums. In the old times the art was in churches, and everyone was going to church’.[11] However, Invader quickly gained acclaim following his first invasion of Paris, and in 2000 his work began to be displayed in galleries and museums such as the Magda Danysz Gallery in Paris, the MAMA Gallery in Rotterdam, and the Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) in Los Angeles. Furthermore, Invader’s mosaics sell for an average of $5000, with two pieces from his Hong Kong invasion, HK-59 and HK-58, selling for $283,300 and $206,000 respectively in 2014.[12]
 

[1] ‘Invader – About’, Space-invaders.com, 2016 <http://www.space-invaders.com/about/> [accessed 21 September 2016].
[2] ibid.
 
[3] ibid.
 
[4] ibid.
 
[5] ‘Invader – About’, Space-invaders.com.
 
[6] ‘About Space Invader - Artist Biography’, Stencilrevolution.com, 2012 <http://www.stencilrevolution.com/profiles/space-invader/> [accessed 21 September 2016].
 
[7] ‘Invader – About’, Space-invaders.com.
 
[8] ibid.
 
[9] a cube puzzle with 9 square stickers on each of the six sides.
 
[10] Space Invader ‘You Own the City’, 2013.
 
[11] ibid.
 
[12] Anika Dačić, ‘10 Invader Art Mosaics Which Captivated the Art World (And the Art Auction Market)’, Widewalls, 2016 <http://www.widewalls.ch/invader-art-mosaics-auctions/> [accessed 25 May 2017].

This page has paths: