Street artist Plastic Jesus placed a life-sized Oscar statuette on Hollywood Boulevard at La Brea Avenue on Thursday morning, close to where the Academy Awards will take place.
Entitled “Hollywood’s Best Party,” the life-sized golden Oscar statue is on its hands and knees, holding a rolled-up hundred dollar bill to lines of ‘cocaine’.
The figure was featured on a red-carpet-like pedestal, bordered with velvet ropes and guarded by security staff.
Plastic Jesus chose to target Oscar season because the Academy glamorizes a tuxedo-clad Hollywood while ignoring the issues that plague its culture.
“People are up there accepting awards,” he says, adding, “but let’s not forget about the rampant problems in this town.”
The artist said the stunt was intended to dismantle Hollywood’s polished facade by exposing its dark side.
“We only hear about (drug abuse) when high-profile people in Hollywood have a meltdown, check into rehab, or die.
“There is a fear among these people that their careers will be ruined if they admit that they have a drug problem,” he explains.
With the death of Parks and Recreation producer Harris Wittels on Thursday, Plastic Jesus says, regretfully, he couldn’t have delivered his message at a more appropriate time.
“There’s another drug-related Hollywood death,” he says. “And nothing will change.”
Plastic Jesus says he chose cocaine as a drug that is representative of Hollywood’s money culture.
“Cocaine and the entertainment industry go hand-in-hand,” he says, insisting the piece wasn’t about mocking celebrity culture and more about an effective way to highlight drug abuse.
“The war on drugs isn’t working. I don’t want to say we should legalize all drugs, but something needs to change,” the artist adds. “People aren’t getting the help they need.”
The statuette is a commentary on the behavior in Hollywood, according to Nick Stern, a photographer who works with the artist.
“The piece is intended to draw attention to Hollywood’s hidden problem of drug addiction that affects hundreds of people in the showbiz industry and is largely ignored until the death of a high profile A-list celebrity,” Stern says.
This is not the first time Plastic Jesus has made art that comments on drug use in Hollywood.
Last year the artist pulled a similar stunt and placed an eight-foot Oscar statue with a heroin needle, called “Hollywood’s Best Kept Secret”. This was to comment on the death of Philip Seymour Hoffman, who died weeks earlier, due to a heroin overdose.
More recently he showed another life-size gold sculpture wearing heels and a g-string with dollar bills tucked in the waistband, hanging from a pole.
“So many women come to Hollywood chasing a dream to become an actor, dancer, or singer. Sadly, due to the lack of opportunities, combined with the high cost of living, they are faced with the reality of having to strip in bars and clubs.
“It’s the only industry in the world where it is acceptable to strip as an internship. Many even believe that having been a stripper makes you ‘cooler’ once you (hopefully) become famous.” says Plastic Jesus.
He is also known for his graffiti piece in 2013 featuring Lance Armstrong cycling while attached to an IV bag.
Plastic Jesus is a former photojournalist from London who moved to L.A. eight years ago to explore installation art as a way to address major sociopolitical and cultural issues.
The Tumblr for Plastic Jesus states he is “inspired by world news events, society, the urban environment, culture and politics,” and that his “work combines humour, irony, criticism and unique opinion to create art that engages on many levels.”
He believes his work has the potential to make a significant change in Hollywood, and beyond.
“Hopefully, my work will help people who have a problem and think they’re alone, but also make a difference on a governmental level. They are not doing enough.”
Plastic Jesus has moved the ‘coked-out’ Oscar statue back to his studio and plans to display it in L.A.’s street art gallery LAB ART – where last year’s heroin Oscar is currently on sale for $25,000.
View: Photos of Plastic Jesus’ artwork
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