Photo courtesy of www.artoftheprank-movie.com.
The irony of a journalist sitting in the presence of Joey Skaggs is proof of a lifelong legacy of satire and media activism. “Art of the Prank” was presented at Western Carolina University as a prescreening event held by South Arts, Inc. The film is on tour with the Southern Circuit and has yet to be released elsewhere. The film portrays Skaggs’ work throughout his lifetime and current work that serves a purpose: it reflects underlying political and cultural issues.
The University Center theater seats were filled with young artists of all talents from Western Carolina on Sept. 13, including art, sculpture and filmmaking students. The enthusiastic audience awaited the preview of the documentary “Art of the Prank,” a debut from filmmaker Andrea Marini. The documentary follows artist Joey Skaggs during the process of one of his most challenging media hoaxes he’s ever put together while relying on film festivals for his success.
“Joey’s art goes beyond one single prank,” Marini emphasized.
The notorious trickster is famous for the satire in his work often involving the media in some form. His work is done in three stages, which the documentary outlines
by a chain of events. Skaggs explained in the film that first is the hook, then the line, then the sinker or revelation. Skaggs targets the media as a way of holding up the mirror to society which reveals the truth about how irresponsible the media can truly be when it comes to handling information.
Some of Skaggs’ most famous work includes fictional pieces such as “Celebrity Sperm Bank,” “The Cathouse for Dogs” and “Portofess.”
Skaggs informed the audience that his inspiration comes from “the cultural hypocrisy and how it is blindly supported in the media.” Skaggs’ topics are often ones that he believes needs to be evaluated by everyone for himself or herself. According to Skaggs, culture is a slow evolutionary process. Not much has changed since he first began performing.
“My fights are still the same,” he declared.
The timeline of triumphs and challenges of the film gives the audience a sense of reality for any pursuing artist. The beginning of the film shows Skaggs’ transition of moving from Hawaii to Kentucky to take care of his sick mother. Every day Skaggs is enraged by modern media and his passion lives on. The work that goes into constructing his next hoax is built around having other daily challenges in life and how important it is for him to finish what he started.
The type of audience of Marini’s film is quite the opposite from Skaggs’ original audience in the ‘60s and ‘70s.
Skaggs referred to the crowd as “a new audience” because many of his hoaxes involve references the younger generations have not lived through to fully understand.
Regardless, one of Marini’s goals of this documentary was to “inspire” younger generations and young artists.
The journey of the process of the hoax is what gave the documentary such character. The idea that it could fail and the whole project could fall through is just what any artist should expect.
“Sometimes a failure is the better story,” Skaggs reassuringly added.
The launch for “Art of the Prank” is the most crucial step for the crew and their main focus is making sure it’s a successful one. Netflix has already expressed interest in streaming the film, but for now, the film follows an academia route, showing to other young students and pursing artists.
For more information about Joey Skaggs, you can visit www.joeyskaggs.com. For more about filmmaker Andrea Marini’s, visit www. andreamarini.net. For more information about the Southern Circuit, go to http:// www.southarts.org/touringarts/southern-circuit/.