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Street artist 'Space Invader' believed detained in L.A. vandalism case


The Los Angeles Police Department believes one of two French nationals detained on suspicion of vandalism near MOCA's Little Tokyo gallery was the famed street artist known as "Space Invader."

The pair were detained Friday after authorities reportedly caught them with buckets of grout and pieces of tile near the historic Perez building in Little Tokyo.

Jack Richter, an LAPD senior lead officer, said authorities believe that one of those detained was Space Invader, who has left mosaic tiles of the vintage video game of the same name in cities around the world. The pair were released while the investigation continued, and Richter said officials were checking with federal immigration officials to see if they had flown back to Paris.

After their release, the trademark mosaics were discovered attached to several buildings, including the Geffen Contemporary, he added.

Officials believe the pair were in L.A. for  MOCA's "Art in the Streets," billed as the first major U.S. museum survey exhibition on graffiti and street art.

The exhibition traces the development of graffiti and street art from the 1970s "to the global movement, concentrating on key cities such as New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, London and São Paulo, Brazil, where a unique visual language or attitude has evolved," the MOCA website says. The show has caused some debate about the line between art and vandalism.


Photos: MOCA's 'Art in the Streets' show

Art review: 'Art in the Streets' at the Geffen Contemporary at MOCA

-- Andrew Blankstein

Photo: Tiles arranged in a space invader design affixed to a building at the corner of Fourth and Alameda streets. Credit: Katie Falkenberg / For The Times

Comments () | Archives (79)

no, california girl, he means street artist

The ironies here are endless, and those of you narrow minded enough to default to cries of vandalism here are one of them.

A street art 'exhibition' already raises a few discerning eyebrows, so it's no surprise that bona fide street artists (and a few hangers on) will have come out to play in the neighborhood.

Perspective might be something too. Invader has been brightening up the streets with his trade mark mosaics for years, and I can't help but admire him for it. We're all bombarded daily by the corporate plagiarism that pervades every street corner, so why should anyone be so bent out of shape over a few well placed mosaics!?

If you don't get it, go concern yourself with something more befitting your banality.

People make good points that in general street artists doing what they want with private property without the owner's permission is a problem. On the other hand: it's a bricked-up window. Not even an actual wall. I'm having a hard time imagining the property owner in tears going, "Those cretins! They've ruined my bricked-up window! Now I'll have to pay hundreds of dollars to have it removed so I can return my run-down building to its former grey glory!" If the LAPD have examples of street art that the exhibition artists did that was truly a nuisance to the property owners, that'd be a different story. But this just looks like a victimless crime to me.

@DTLADude: Cause graffiti isn't about asking, it's about taking. If you ask for the space, it's not graffiti. If it's not vandalism, it's not graffiti. Then it's just you putting up a poster or a mural. The whole attitude is no one asked us if we want bill boards and adds and ugly buildings up in our space, so why should i ask to put up my art in the public space. My attitude is, if it's a building paid for by taxes, if it's government run and operated, tag it it up, cover it. If it's a privately owned building, leave it alone. Unless it's a corporate structure. They have the money to clean it.

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