true crime is an intervention and exhibition based work which came about through a provocation from seminal art group critical art ensemble to ‘celebrate an illegal activity’. made as part of ‘do it’ a touring exhibition created by hans ulrich oberist, true crime was exhibited at the lawrence Wilson art gallery during the perth international arts festival in 2001.
in response to our provocation, pvi mounted an illegal car sticker campaign which aimed to unearth the ease with which illegal activities can be disseminated beyond the internet, which at the time was the focus of a national censorship debate. creating a series of car stickers which gave simple instructions on how to break, enter and drive away the three most stealable cars in australia, pvi hit three major car parks in perth over a period of one weekend disguised in blonde wigs and sun-glasses. after accidentally straying into a government car park, police later tracked the group down and confiscated the remaining stickers.
police are furious at the perth international arts festival initiative which has seen instructions on how to steal motor vehicles stuck to car windscreens around the city over the past few days. perth district super intendant ron carey said he was disgusted that public money was used to fund a “grossly irresponsible prank” which the piaf hierarchy has defended as a form of expression known as “installation art”. when the stickers were posted on cars around the city on saturday and monday, police were baffled by the motive. particularly perplexing were claims by witnesses that two men and a woman wearing blond wigs were seen where the stickers were posted.
police inquires revealed the culprits had posted the stickers as part of a festival project. supt carey attacked the art form, saying it promoted illegal behaviour. “i think it is outrageous,” he said. “i am absolutely amazed that the festival would fund a publication of this nature. to deliberately design written material that assists people to understand how to steal motor vehicles cannot be excused.”
festival spokeswoman lynn fisher could not say how much the stunt by a group of artists had cost or why they had chosen that form of expression. in a letter to the wa police service, ms fisher dismissed claims the stickers were irresponsible. “the artists are given an instruction that they interpret into an art project,” she wrote. “the artists checked with the wa art gallery on the legality of the proposed work and the gallery received legal advice that it was not illegal.” three types of stickers were found on cars near the health department on royal street and on cars parked near perth oval. each had instructions on how to steal ford falcons, holden commodores or mazda 626s, including information on how to check for shock sensors, hot-wire cars, bypass immobilisers and break steering locks.”
ben harvey, west australian 25.01.01
devised by: pvi collective
exhibition dates: 26 jan – 20 feb 2001. laurence, wilson art gallery, university of wa ‘do it’ exhibition, curated byrobert cook & sophie o’brien
a festival of perth commission