I am not a writer. What I like to do is creating images, preferably with paint. So this time, I am operating in an area I am not quite familiar with, just because this medium seems to be the best way to pass my idea on to you. Exactly that inspired me of inventing this short story. The street artist tells his stories best through his art. As an artist, I know you have to have a subject - an obsession as you may call it. That obsession could be everything: clouds, the closing tabs of bread bags, anything. Our artist, who signs his work with “Anonymous”, has developed an “interest” in the 2014 Renault Twingo. His goal: make the world notice the car. But how do you make sure that your art will reach a large audience? At first, social media seems to be a pretty good bet. Unfortunately, the online fan club doesn't expand as quickly as the artist wished. On top of that, the London Police has opened an investigation into him while stripping the London streets from his art. “Anonymous” thinks he only has one choice left: going out with a bang.
The artist creates a plan to give the Twingo an unique podium with a tremendous amount of publicity. This is his story, as he told it to inspector Brown.
The obsession starts
I am a street artist. I work on the street, the streets provide me with work… and inspiration. I do my work mostly at night, yes. But I couldn't help notice some change in scenery. It wasn't clear at first, because I only caught mere glimpses of it. And all of the sudden there it was, in broad day light…
A tall, slender silhouette, carrying a large shoulder bag full of buckets of paint, brushes and spray paint, is walking through the night of London. With his peering dark eyes, he makes sure the street is empty. Pulling the hood of his sweater over his head full of messy long brown curls, he walks into a deserted alleyway. Right there he starts setting up his paint and brushes around him and sets himself to work. While applying his newest piece of art onto the wall, his attention drawn two times to something around him. It looked like a car, it sounded like a car, so it was probably… a car. Yet there was something different about it he couldn't grasp.
This sense of distraction occurred more often over the course of a couple of weeks. Until a walk home one early morning returning home from work. There it was, neatly parked on the side of the road, the new Renault Twingo.
The obsession takes shape
The shape, the dynamics… It somehow grabbed me. I started to see her everywhere. It got into my system. I had to do something with it. So I did what I do best: make art. I started out small, but it wasn't doing any justice to my beloved subject, my new found muse. So I started working on a larger scale, as you might have noticed.
Our dearest artist is obviously struck by the appearance of this smart city car. All across London artwork featuring it pop up. Since all of the works were placed anonymously - it was even signed with “Anonymous”- and without permission, it all had to be taken down at the cities costs.
After the fourth large piece was discovered, inspector Brown is called in to investigate. On his way to the “crime scene”, he passes several pieces made by “Anonymous”. One was being painted over, the others would await the same fate shortly. Actually, the inspector is sad that the works are being painted over, they lifted the appearance of deserted buildings wonderfully. In his car he experiences the many cons of London traffic. Frustrated he rubs his hand across his not yet thinning grey hair. Taking a deep sigh, stretching the fabric of his already slightly too tight shirt to a maximum around his recently developing belly, he takes another attempt to switch lanes. Once again, his rather large sedan gets cut off several times by other cars.
“Only those darn tiny city cars like that perky new Twingo in front of me seem to fit into the traffic flow over here,” he smirks silently.
To his surprise, he finds himself staring into a rear light of the very same Twingo a couple of minutes later. Only this wasn't a physical car, it was a painting.
An expanding vision
I was pleased that some connoisseurs started to pick up on my work. That was what I wanted: people to notice her! You might say I wasn't pleased with London's finests' - ahem, your colleague's - dislike of my work: if I wanted people to get connected with my vision, they had to be able to experience my work first hand. So I chose to pick better, more popular spots to showcase my art, just trying to reach a larger crowd.
The inspector is working hard to connect the dots: the artist, “Anonymous”, is obsessed lately by the 2014 Renault Twingo. In the course of just a couple of weeks 11 reports of illegal graffiti were made that use the signature of this person, including 9 artworks on the Twingo. The four large paintings, covering entire sides of homes and offices, were of impeccable quality. Every single one of them showcased a design element of the car, heavily enlarged to fit the grand scale of the painting. But the inspectors personal favourite was a small piece. It was a silhouette of the Twingo, seen from the front. The artist had also displayed the headlights and the grill. The drivers' door was open and from underneath the door you could see two stiletto heeled feet get out of the car. That image just makes the inspector smile.
On the internet, a small online community has started to take shape, applauding the use of the cars signature elements in the paintings. In the online gallery he can not only find the works of “Anonymous”, also of numerous copycats across Europe. It is easy to distinct them from the real artist: their works are of lesser quality, even when they try to make exact copies, and they also use different cars for their so called street art.
It has been twelve days into the investigation and inspector Brown has yet to find any lead. The online community has only handed out a few local copycats. The poor man sits back in his chair, takes his reading glasses of and rubs with both hands across his face.
“My, this guy is way too good at keeping true to his adopted name,” the inspector sais to himself.
To his grief, he has to close the case for now. He has been working on it in his free time, just to add some off the record hours to the case. Now, the office hours he has been given to work on this case are over and he has absolutely no leads whatsoever. With something that sounds both like a sigh and a groan the inspector gets up and starts cleaning up his desk, filing all of the piles of paper belonging to the “Twingo-case”.
And still, the community wouldn't grow, although I think that is mainly caused by those darn copycats. They know nothing about portraying her properly! I had to take matters into my own hand, to take things to a whole new level! So I started on preparing something big.
Of course, a grand opening means nothing if it hadn't a proper announcement first. But you understood that exactly, didn't you inspector?
A couple of weeks pass by without any sign of “Anonymous”, apart from a copycat or two. However, just as the inspector thinks that the artist he was investigating has found something else to obsess about, a mysterious call comes in. An unnamed man tells the officer answering the phone that “an invitation for inspector Brown can be found right on the street at the bankside of London”.
As soon as Brown hears this, he takes off to search the Bankside. It became easy as, shortly after his leave, the Tate Modern reports that some piece of illegal art is applied onto the large square in front of the building.
Upon arrival, the inspector is baffled. This was without a doubt the work of “Anonymous”. This was even better: he has taken his art to a whole new level. From where the inspector was standing, the forced perspective made it seem as if in the middle of the square, a Renault Twingo was ready to drive off into the early evening.
Rushing for the event
After that, things started to speed up. I followed up on a fellow enthusiast, just to borrow his car for her grand chance to shine. You caught up on me quickly, didn't you? I must thank all of you policemen for that! Those hours, just driving her around the city during your feeble chase was the very best night I ever had!
While driving back from the museum to the office, inspector Brown receives a peculiar message over the police radio. A brand new Renault Twingo has been reported stolen just minutes ago. Some stranger wearing leather gloves and a hooded sweater, managed to swap the keys, while The thief took off in the car, leaving a shocked owner – just having a bite from his bagel – on the curb.
The inspector immediately radios in: “Let a car unit start tailing that car right now!”
As quickly as London traffic makes him reach his office, he heads off to the CCTV-monitor room. Inside the ill-lit room there is a mayhem of radio invoices and responding head-phone wearing officers, each of them sitting at their desk surrounded by several monitors. Each of the screens show the view of several security-camera's in London. To the inspectors dislike, none of them seem to have anything to do with a Twingo or a chase at all! One of the officers in the room spots the disappointed inspector and is quick to inform him that they are screening the images for the stolen car, but they haven't found that exact Twingo ye-…
“Sir! The car is headed south from the corner of Worship Street and City Road.”
“So can you finally get the cars going now? Let's go get the car! NOW, for crying out loud!” the inspector exclaimed.
For hours the screens kept showing nothing more than glimpses of the stolen vehicle, yet none of the police cars managed to make it pull over. The agile and quick city car manages to outsmart the unit every single time they almost catch up with it.
“Where did it go? WHERE DID IT GO?” He yelled to the nearest police officer, a young woman, sitting in front of a set of monitors.
“We do not have a visual on the car anymore, sir.” Her face looked both apologetic and aggravated.
“Damn it!” The inspector slammed the table in agony. “He is up to something! He can't just have disappeared. The darn thing won't fit through a police box's door*!”
“I am afraid he has disappeared, sir…” replied the young officer. “He is gone and took the car with him.”
Meanwhile, in some dark, dingy alleyway the Twingo could just snugly fit into, the artist is relieved. The plan worked! In this burst of aesthetic accomplishment, the artist couldn't help but give the car a thankful little pat on the steering wheel. The only thing left to do was getting the car to the right place as soon as possible.
The Grand Opening
Oh well, you know what happened next… Weren't you puzzled by how I got it there? It's my trick of the trade, I'm afraid. I must say that the hardest part was just leaving her there. But I knew, if I wanted to succeed in my plan I had to leave as soon as possible.
The next morning the inspector was overthinking last night over a big mug of extra strong coffee. He still could not believe what happened! Someone disappearing from London CCTV? Unheard of!
His trail of thoughts was abruptly stopped by an officer who came in with some news:
“We have found the car,” the young lad said. “And you are never going to believe where we found it.”
Indeed, he wouldn't have believed it if it weren't for the fact that he was looking at the car right this moment. He was standing on the fifth floor of the Tate Modern Museum. The gallery offered a magnificent view across the river Thames and London itself. And right in front of him was the missing Renault Twingo, as if it has been standing there for weeks because of an exhibition. It even had a description card placed on the floor next to it, on the edge of the painted black square the car was parked on. He had to admit, it was quite an amazing stunt that the artist had pulled. This museum obviously has an elevator that could hold the size of a car, but he had never imagined it could also hold the weight of one!
Forensics was already busy searching the car for any evidence. They seemed to have hit the jackpot: DNA on the steering wheel.
The DNA and some old friends from the artist, who just very, very recently developed a grunge against “Anonymous”, helped to speed up the investigation. Within 24 hours the inspector found himself inside the artist's apartment, arresting the person behind “Anonymous”. The artist had a somewhat peculiar way of decorating. All of the walls, especially near an old wooden desk, were covered in pictures and sketches and notes and paint, all inspired by the very same car.
Wrapping up after success
Mistakes? I made “a couple” of mistakes? Oh yes, I did make ONE mistake: I should have kept her to myself.
The inspector sat casually on his chair in the dimly lit interrogation room. On the tip of his nose he had his reading glasses. In his hand he held todays newspaper. He read the main headline: “Break in at Tate Modern: stolen Twingo recovered”. His eyes flashed towards the artist, sitting across him from the grey metal table.
“He doesn't look a bit as extravagant as I would have imagined,” thought the inspector. “But the attitude definitely makes up for that. Oh, and the Mediterranean accent”
He flung the newspaper onto the table, took the glasses from his nose and put them in his inner jacket pocket.
“Anonymous” had just ended his story about his scheme and why he had committed it. The inspector has just one more thing he would like to know.
“You have made a couple mistakes, otherwise we wouldn't have found and caught you, don't you think so?”
The answer from the artist brought a broad grin onto the inspectors face. He couldn't have agreed more.