Uh oh. As art projects go, this one might have needed a bit more attention at the planning stage.
A photographer has landed himself in hot water after putting up a road sign in the Stamford Hill area that features the clear silhouette of an Orthodox Jew. When the sign was first spotted, it was widely believed to be a prank of some kind. But it emerged that it was put up as part of an art project by photographer Franck Allais.
It’s one of 27 signs Allais has placed around London, in what was meant as a series of wry observations about identity and the different people and things you can find in different areas of the city, Stamford Hill being famous for its large Orthodox Jewish community. (Other signs feature elderly shoppers and cats.) And while it’s evident that the sign wasn’t installed with any intended anti-Semitism, it was enough for the Jewish neighbourhood-watch association Shomrim to alert the police and report it as a hate crime. The story has since spread across news channels and social media and been widely denounced, with MPs Diane Abbott and David Lammy condemning the sign.
Allais himself has expressed contrition over the offence he’s caused, and stressed that any distress was completely unintentional. Really, it seems like textbook plonker behaviour. The red triangle format of the sign, after all, is associated with hazards or dangers: hardly positive representation. Furthermore, according to the Community Security Trust, hate crimes against Jews rose by 36 percent last year.
In road safety parlance: think before you act!
In other news, a skip has been turned into a gallery in Hoxton Square.