West Seattle scene: More ‘guerrilla art’ at Alki Statue of Liberty – and then Walking on Logs

4:05 PM: Two weeks after the first “guerrilla art” sighting at Alki Statue of Liberty Plaza (WSB coverage here and here), and a week and a half after the followup, something new showed up today. Ben Hutchinson shared the photo and observation:

This one looks like an assault rifle. On the front of this work of art, it has written in French, “Ceci nest pa un fusil d’assault”. I put this into Google Translate, which gave me the English translation “This is not an assault rifle”. I’m not sure, but I believe this may have been a protest in response to a number incidents in various places that have been mentioned in the news over the past few months, about kids who were suspended from school or even arrested for simply carrying Nerf guns (shoot foam rubber darts) or other toy guns like squirt guns or cap guns either to school or onto pieces of property (such as a park/playfield) that belongs to a school. Children are often forbidden from doing so under so called “no tolerance” rules involving anything that even looks like a gun (in one such case, a kid was suspended for just pointing his finger in a way that looked like he was pretending it was a gun, while playing, as kids tend to do). I believe the artwork here is a protest against such no-tolerance policies, for how strict (and possibly unfair) they can be in some situations.

We didn’t see Ben’s e-mail in time to check while we were at Alki so we don’t know if it’s still there.

12:43 AM: The “not a rifle” has been moved to Walking on Logs. The sighting was reported by @macjustice on Twitter when we were downtown picking up a family member; checked it out on the way back, and it’s either the same one or a duplicate.

ADDED EARLY MONDAY: We heard on Sunday from Chuck, who identified himself as the artist, but said he is NOT the person responsible for the previous creations left at Liberty Plaza and in The Junction. He says somebody had removed the “not a rifle” from Walking on Logs by 10:30 am Sunday, adding, “I hope that whoever took it returns it. If they don’t, I guess it served its purpose. I had a lot of fun making it.”

23 Replies to "West Seattle scene: More 'guerrilla art' at Alki Statue of Liberty - and then Walking on Logs"

  • Cranky Westie July 6, 2013 (4:18 pm)

    Mon aéroglisseur est plein d’anguilles

  • sara July 6, 2013 (4:22 pm)

    Time to bone up on art history Bob! The French reference is actually an allusion to the Surrealist artist Rene Magritte’s famous painting of a pipe with the words “Leci n’est pas une pipe.” (“This is not a pipe.”) It’s meant to be ironic and non-nonsensical, as well playing with verbal and visual relationships. Like looking at the word “blue” that is printed in red. If there’s a political meaning, I don’t think it has to do with children’s toys. But maybe the same non-nonsensical definitions of objects (such as guns) to fit societal convenience??

  • Robert July 6, 2013 (4:27 pm)

    I’m not sure either, but I can think of a different take on “this is not an assault rifle.” The Belgian surrealist painter Rene Magritte created a famous painting which plainly depicted a tobacco pipe, along with the words “ceci n’est pas une pipe,” which translates to “this is not a pipe.” The guerilla art at Alki seems to me to be a clear reference to Magritte’s work. But what does it mean? We can only speculate, of course. Magritte was making a comment on what some have called the treachery of images. He was pointing out that a painting is only a representation, and not reality. I think it’s possible that our guerilla artist, whose work has provoked a delightful amount of outrage from some members of our community, is making a comment on the outrageous prevalence of real assault rifles in our society. But I could be mistaken.

    • WSB July 6, 2013 (4:29 pm)

      Thanks, all!

  • cj July 6, 2013 (4:54 pm)

    Perhaps its an invitation for some to show just how paranoid they are lol.

  • Ben July 6, 2013 (5:02 pm)

    I am not familiar with Magritte, but I do know that the previous works of art that have been placed at the statue have specifically been against things that have been perceived to violate our freedoms. For example the first one was obviously a condemnation of the NSA for spying on American citizens right here in the US, while the second one appeared to be a criticism of the fact that the first work of art had been broken up with an axe.

    Quite naturally, I assumed that this new work of art was intended to criticize those who would take away our gun rights. And with that text on the side (stating that the work of art was not an actual gun), I assumed that it was specifically referring to the “no tolerance” policies that have the effect of banning even toy guns on school property.

    However you may be right that it is just trying to say that our society is making less sense about things, just like a piece of art that says it is not depicting a gun, even though it’s obvious that it is depicting a gun.

  • Smitty July 6, 2013 (5:55 pm)

    I bought a WWII French rifle.

    They advertised it as “never fired, dropped twice”.

  • will e styles July 6, 2013 (6:27 pm)

    this is really cool. I think the whole point is to tell people to get over themselves. leave the guns alone. It is made of wood it is not a gun, but only gun shaped. Yet a few yards away men dressed as pirates with real swords and weapons(canon) are cheered by all. get a grip people weapons are tools its the people that can be evil.

  • Marko July 6, 2013 (7:01 pm)

    @Smitty LOL. Luckily the British and the Americans didn’t drop theirs.

  • Coyote July 6, 2013 (7:46 pm)

    Are you people crazy?! This is quite obviously a response to the (so-called) French bistro opening on Alki. Their refusal to serve merlot is exactly how they started the conflict in Vietnam. Boycott the bistro! We want the French OUT!!!

  • wsamy July 6, 2013 (8:39 pm)

    @Ben–the point of the Magritte painting is not to be a piece of art that says it’s not what it’s depicting. The pipe is not a pipe because it’s a painting. What the viewer sees is not an actual pipe, but a painting of a pipe. I saw the assault rifle today, and I’m not certain what the intended political message is here; it’s more complicated because the artist is clearly channeling Magritte, but Magritte was more interested in exploring the relationship between the physical subject of the painting and the painting itself. It wasn’t meant to be a political statement the way this gun clearly is. Pretty fun and interesting stuff to think about!

  • D July 6, 2013 (9:13 pm)

    Just a quick clarification as to your final sentence and the relevance to the artist Magritte. The piece is not saying that it is NOT a depiction of a gun, of course it is; rather it’s saying that the sculpture itself is not a gun, it’s a sculpture. I’ve always read it as a warning not to mistake the symbol for the real thing.

    As to what exactly the artist is trying say, if anything. Pfft.. hard to say. They could be simply riffing on Magritte and grabbing a symbol from current events. Without more clues from the artist I’d say they really aren’t saying anything, just to spark some conversation. Or maybe they are just trying to get people’s attention. Hard to say.

  • D July 6, 2013 (9:15 pm)

    @ will e styles,
    Of course if people did leave guns alone there’d be no issues with them in the first place. I mean, they don’t fire themselves right? :P

  • robespierre July 6, 2013 (10:06 pm)

    It’s quirky but kind of cool. For the inevitable NIMBYs, I will say that you’ll get over this, too.

  • gary July 6, 2013 (11:22 pm)

    Very stimulating apparently, and that’s the point of “art”.

  • G July 7, 2013 (10:01 am)

    We need more of this; separating ideas and things from the real and imagined. And in Seattle, in my opinion, this is desperately needed.

  • Jim E July 7, 2013 (3:25 pm)

    I know what Magritte meant in his original painting.

    But that aside:

    An assault rifle is able to be fired full auto.

    What are called “assault rifles” by the media and politicians aren’t really “assault rifles”.

    If the art represents an AR-15, it makes perfect sense.

  • Jennifer July 7, 2013 (5:36 pm)

    Waiting for someone to foam at the mouth and take an axe to this, too. That’s the performance part of the art. Muah ah ah!

    • WSB July 7, 2013 (7:38 pm)

      Jennifer – actually, I haven’t had time to update it (am about to), but we did hear from the artist, who says it was gone by 10:30 this morning.

  • redblack July 8, 2013 (5:14 am)

    this is why we need an national art registry/database. if the stolen art is used in the commission of a violent crime, law enforcement should know how and where it was obtained.

  • Jordan July 8, 2013 (7:10 am)

    Coyote, Thanks for the heads up on the French bistro opening on Alki. I’ll be sure to go check it out.

  • WSB July 8, 2013 (7:16 am)

    You won’t find anything. Nowhere near open yet.

  • anonyme July 9, 2013 (7:06 am)

    redblack! WE MISS YOU!

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