‘The Wall’ Art Not Welcome On Elliott Smith Wall

Roger Waters was recently forced to apologize to upset Elliott Smith fans after his public art stunt of projecting and wheat-pasting a pacifist quote by President Dwight D. Eisenhower in New York and Los Angeles backfired when it was posted on the late singer-songwriter’s memorial.

According to representatives for the former Pink Floyd frontman, and reported by LAWeekly.com, the Eisenhower quote was adopted by Waters “to embody the spirit of … The Wall.” To promote Waters’ upcoming “The Wall Live” tour, celebrating the 30th anniversary of the release of the classic Pink Floyd album, the quote appeared in numerous locations in NYC and L.A. as “vivid graphic projections, wheat pastings and chalk drawings. This is a call to arms to a new generation of fans, to not sit idly by and believe what is being told to them, but to constantly question, and find the answers they seek by breaking down walls.”

Eisenhower’s quote states: “Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired, signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed.”

One location the quote was posted was on the outside wall of Solutions in the Los Angeles neighborhood of Silver Lake. The store, which specializes in audio/video and speaker repairs, is also the home of the Elliott Smith memorial. The wall, which features a red, white and blue swirling “S,” provided the cover for the singer-songwriter’s 2000 Figure 8 album. After his 2003 death, fans turned the wall into a memorial, leaving messages on the wall along with photos, flowers, candles and alcohol bottles. The wall has also been tagged with unrelated graffiti.

Along with the quote, Waters’ image of a soldier cradling a child was also posted on the Solutions wall.

Photo: Greg Allen / Gregallenphotos.com
Madison Square Garden, New York City.

Waters told the Los Angeles Times’ Pop & Hiss blog he wasn’t aware the Solutions wall was a significant site for Smith fans and explained that he wasn’t familiar with the late singer-songwriter.

“It was absolutely an accident,” Waters said. “I didn’t want to disrespect Elliott Smith’s fans, and I’ve instructed (the team) to remove the wheat paste immediately. It was a random pasting in the normal course of this, and I want to make it public that we had no intent to offend or cover up something precious.”

Waters said the art promotion was being coordinated from his New York offices and that the team wasn’t aware of the meaning behind the wall. He added that the pasting can be quickly removed because it is made up of biodegradable material.

He noted that he wasn’t the only one who had posted something non-Smith- related on the wall, saying “it’s not like this was some pristine monument and Roger Waters is the Big Bad Wolf who covered it up.”

Although the anti-war quote might not have made Smith fans feel quite at peace about the whole situation, Waters said he thinks Smith would have approved of sentiment behind Eisenhower’s words.

“That’s why I was so incensed when I read that article that said I paid someone to disrespect Elliott Smith,” Waters said. “I admit I didn’t know his music, but I’ve talked to people who do and it’s clear he was a young man who felt deeply, and any empathetic person wouldn’t have an issue with publicizing that quote. I would guess, and this is only a guess, but it’s my guess that he would have been sympathetic to that message.”

Waters posted a similar message on his Facebook page, saying that he didn’t wish to offend Smith fans but that the idea that he intentionally disrespected the singer’s memory was “a load of crap. I’m told the mural in question has been there for ten years and has been tagged many times. What possible motive could I have for targeting it?”

From what I know of Smith and his music, I think he would have approved of the message and wouldn’t have been up in arms about Waters’ posting on the memorial. That being said, I do think it was disrespectful to post the message in relation to promoting another artist’s upcoming tour. Waters’ team should have done their research before posting on the Solutions wall and he did the right thing by having it removed.

Click here for the LAWeekly.com post.

Click here for the Los Angeles Times’ Pop & Hiss post.

Click here for Roger Waters’ Facebook page.