In the past Toothfish has been accused of vandalizing National Party advertising hoardings in the lead-up to the General Election and last year was no different. Some person or group was affixing a perfectly scaled and treated image of a skull-like robotic head(from the movie Terminator)over the face of the Prime-minister on billboards around the country and Toothfish seemed to be Suspect Number One. When the Big Fish decided to use the "Terminator' head on some of its own posters the shit really hit the fan!
In September of 2014 New Zealand had its General Election (which is usually held every three years). As usual Toothfish got involved and produced two new posters. The first attacked John Key; the Prime Minister and leader of the right wing 'National' Party, by caricaturing him as a Heinrich Himmler look-alike (with dollar signs substituting for swastikas). The second featured the face of a tattooed Maori warrior with a simple exhortation to 'VOTE'. The first went viral on the net before it even hit the streets while the second barely caused a ripple (despite widespread distribution by Toothfish's most excellent friends at Phantom Bill Stickers).
In common with some of Toothfish’s previous posters (e.g.SOLD) a few people actually thought they saw see swastikas on the poster instead of dollar signs and vilified Toothfish as an anti-Semitic extremist(See - 'The Key to Wealth and Happiness')
After the first run of the 'Key' posters had gone up around the capital city of Wellington in July of 2014 the city council asked Phantom not to put up any more.
In the weeks leading up to the election Toothfish was in the process of organizing an entire exhibition of election posters( See - 'Election Poster Exhibition'). It had planned on using the Key/Himmler image on the poster advertising the show but it was now clear that some other image would have to be found and quickly!
In the past Toothfish had been accused of vandalizing National Party Election Billboards(See 'Street Art versus Politics')and 2014 was no different. Some unknown person or group was affixing a perfectly scaled and treated image of a skull-like robotic head (from the movie - 'Terminator') over the face of the Prime Minister on billboards around the country. Toothfish seemed to be Suspect Number One.
Toothfish decided it was damned either way and decided to 'steal' the metallic skull itself and use it to cover the Prime Minister's smiling visage on the poster advertising the show (see below). Until this point Toothfish had always done its own artwork and to appropriate an existing image was a major departure But the robot head on the Caschist body looked so compelling it was decided to press ahead. Hopefully everyone who saw the original poster would know that the Prime-Minister's face was underneath.
Toothfish with one of the Election Show posters in the center of Wellington before it was pulled down.(September 2014)
In the week prior to the exhibition and the week of the show itself a big run of these Robot-Key posters went up around the capital. Toothfish has had its posters pulled down before by opponents and souvenir hunters but the destruction of these looked to be both organised and pointed. During both weeks posters which had been put up on Sunday were mostly torn down by Tuesday. One of Toothfish's minions even had its camera stolen while photographing a guy destroying a spread of posters. The man noticed his activities were being recorded, ran over, threatened the photographer and left with the camera.
Before and After photos. Pulling down posters is one thing but littering is another matter entirely!
It seemed that some people (in New Zealand at least) understood that the Terminator face on the Election Show poster was part of an ongoing art-attack on the government.
Despite misgivings there was something oddly gripping about the mixture of robots and politics. Toothfish decided to continue with this new theme and see where it went and it wasn't long before Terminator heads began springing up in odd places around the world.
Abandoned House in Sunderland in Northern England - November 2014.
The heads also started to appear floating on top of 'spreads' of some of Toothfish's other posters. These compositions created new symbolic cocktails to intoxicate/annoy/confuse the public!
Brick Lane - Shoreditch - London - December 2014
But what exactly are the outer limits? How far can you go with a poster before you get arrested or your head kicked in? What good is a poster that gets pulled down before many people can see it? And could the perfect poster bring down the Government?
Toothfish in Dunedin New Zealand in front of a wall with other posters mocking the Prime-Minister. While this photo was being taken an elderly man came up and abused us for documenting 'this shit!' (February 2015)
Photos by Toothfish, Phantom Bill-Stickers and Simon Clayton.