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You CAN Touch This: Rapper Lupe Fiasco Tells Museums How It Is

Under his real name, Wasalu Muhammad Jaco, the rapper defies museum security and invents some of his own

Lupe Fiasco, the rapper whose music video for “Old School Love” premiered on MTV last Monday, loves going to art museums. But there are things he hates about them, too.

Like those “No Photography” signs in photography shows. Or the ones that warn you to stay more than 18 inches away from the art.
lupeportraitOne thing the rapper likes to do in museums, along with looking at the art, is photographing his hand touching the “do not touch” signs.

Guards do not find this amusing.

“I got busted at the Warhol Museum,” he said at his opening last night at Anonymous Gallery, where the photos are part of his first solo art exhibition.

Titled “Bound,” it’s an absurdist response to some of the more absurd efforts museums make to keep art secure.

Sponsored by Anonymous Gallery and Wolf Studio, the show runs through December 22 in an inconspicuous space tucked behind a jewelry store on Reade Street, in TriBeCa. It’s presented under Lupe’s real name, Wasalu Muhammad Jaco.

The artist, who admires Rothko, Richter, and Kerry James Marshall, says his visual art reflects the same creative strategies his music does—“Duality, irony, context.”

Wearing a t-shirt bearing an image of Caravaggio’s Entombment of Christ, from his friend Virgil Abloh’s Pyrex series, Jaco did a walkthrough of the show.

He pointed out the photographic transgressions he made against the rules in MoMA, L.A.’s MOCA, Chicago’s MCA, the Pompidou Center in Paris, and other contemporary-art spaces.

And he described his modest proposals for making museum warning signs more effective.

“I thought, Let me do museums a favor and create things to keep people from touching,” he explained.

These things include a strand of barbed wire, a minimalist square of glass shards, and a grid of mouse traps, all of which appear in front of photos here.
Lupe Fiasco, This Photo Has 1980s AIDS
In other cases, he uses words as weapons: Under one sign, he put another one saying “This picture is protected by the stigma homosexuality.”

Another one reads, “This picture has 1980’s AIDS,” a reference to the paranoia and misinformation of the time.

Still others draw on the powers of Jesus, voodoo, and Frida Kahlo.

Finally, there is a giant mirror, marked with the word “You.”

In this case, instead of pushing the viewers away from his art, he’s pulling them in. And practically commanding them to take out their own iPhones and shoot art selfies.

Now we’re all part of Wasalu Muhammad Jaco’s first art show.

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