Actor and artist Damian Lanahan-Kalish doesn’t dress to impress, he dresses to depress. Or at least that’s what his press release says. The slogans on his Sharpie-pen emblazoned T-shirts, however, make for pure sartorial splendor. Everyday, for the past three years, Lanahan-Kalish has been graffitiing provocative catchphrases on T’s and wearing them in public. His intention is to engage passersby in a dialogue, meaningful or otherwise, thus completing each conceptual art endeavor.
“A lot of days I don’t really want to deal with it,” laughs the affable Lanahan-Kalish, who adds “I try not to say anything I can’t defend.”
Concepts explored in black ink across the artist’s t-shirted torso include:
I’m ashamed to be White, I Do Drugs and I Vote, It’s Nothing Like I expected, I’m Ashamed to be an American, I’m Weak I’m a Delicate Little Flower, I’m Ashamed to be Male, The Terrorists Have Won, I Love Palestine, Cocaine! I’m not Really All that impressed with the Dali Lama, This Shirt Was Made in a Sweatshop, At Least Ronald Reagan Is Dead, I often Feel like I’m not living up to my potential, I’m not really very attracted to skinny blonde girls, I’m just Trying to Say We’re all Fucked up so it’s okay.
“Originally, it started out as a concept about fashion. I can’t really dress myself, so I was trying figure out what dressing nicely is for. It’s either to get people to talk to us or to be interest in us, or at least to express positive aspects of ourselves. My concept was to do anti-fashion which originally were all expressions that were negative about ourselves, things that fashion is supposed to be hiding that also expresses ‘zero money’ and concept,” he explains.
For all his conceptual pranksterism, it’s surprising Lanahan-Kalish hasn’t taken a tip from Magritte and scrawled “This is not a T-shirt” on a shirt.
“This is the laziest way to express myself. I need to be heard without actually taking the effort painting something and getting someone to look at it and actually understanding what I mean. It’s better just to figure out what I mean and put it out there,” he explains. “I just want to be heard. Like any artist, I want a way to be heard and not go insane. You can’t keep it all in.”
But you can wear it.