We get sent a lot of books about graffiti. I'm not sure why—given that the last couple of times we've written about graffiti people were really, really mad about it—but, unfortunately, we do. The latest offering came from the people who run shriiimp.com. It is called Holy Shriiimp, The Bible Vol. 1. As you may have deduced from the image above, it's a picture-book of topless women who've been tagged by graffiti artists with names like G-kill and 2Blok. It is 111 pages long.
While I get that many people would find this objectifying and misogynistic, my initial reaction to Holy Shriiimp, The Bible Vol. 1, was that it seems to be a gigantic waste of money and time for everyone involved. And that includes the buyer—the book has an RRP of $20, but there's already a huge free archive of these kinds of images on the Shriimp website.
Talking of the website, the press release for the book claims that it receives over one million page views per month and that the "Shriiimp™ movement" is now so widespread that the word "shriiimped" has "passed into the common language of the worlds [sic] audience." For evidence of this, they cite the fact that someone once said: "I shriimped that girl" in episode two, season five of CSI NY. Which, I'm sure you'll agree, is basically the same as an insertion into the OED.
Let's take a look at the book that proves the world needs a standardized slang term to describe the daubing of a woman's breasts with spraypaint.
The cover is a pair of boobs covered in paint and is a perfectly sound representation of what’s inside. It's not a book that's going to offer the reader many plot twists. It's literally just lots of photos of women's chests made to look like cakes or walls.
Most of the stuff in the book doesn't even look like very good graffiti. These two, for example, are shit. In fact, the one on the right isn't even graffiti, it's an A3 tattoo transfer you get when you subscribe to Metal Hammer.
This one looks just like that stock graffiti font you used to get on WordArt, right? Either way, it's an image with all the artistic depth of the Limp Bizkit video that came out earlier this year with Fred Durst simultaneously rapping and taking a shit. It's also notable for the fact that it's perhaps the most desperately self-aware "urban" set-up I've ever seen that involves the use of two berets.
To be fair to "Vince Prawns," the guy who put the book together, it's quite an accomplishment to pack out over 100 pages with essentially the exact same image. But the problem with publishing a book based entirely on the premise of spraying graffiti on nude women is that you'll inevitably run out of ideas on how to frame the shots differently.
This becomes evident mostly towards the end, when they start adding weird props like snakes and gorilla masks. On the last page, the model is drinking a glass of milk. The girls on page 76 are wearing speakers on their heads and standing in between some turntables. There's even a little blackface on page 68. I know Beyonce did blackface a while ago, but she got a whole world of shit for it and she's Beyonce. If she can't make it work, Shriiimp is definitely out of it's depth. I wonder if a press copy of this book was sent to The New Statesman or Vagenda, because on page 39 there's a woman with her head in a washing machine with "GKill" written on her ass. If the right people see this shit, it could lead to the first fourth-wave feminist murder squad descending on the Shriiimp offices.
Clearly the model who "Ches" did this to has breasts that are nice to look at it, both if you're attracted to women or just enjoy looking at boobs. But that detracts from the design itself somewhat, which is probably why people usually do graffiti on walls or bins or trains instead of human beings.
That's the fundamental pitfall of Holy Shriiimp: naked women are nice to look at, and graffiti can also occasionally be pleasing to the eye, but there's no functional or artistic reason to link the two. You can't really just combine two things and turn it into a book. Photos of 17th century Welsh churches overlaid with inspirational quotes from Liverpool's 1996 FA Cup final squad, for example, makes no sense. And neither does this.
Regardless of all that, it's probably going to become a fixture on the shelves of awful street culture boutiques and a wildly popular birthday gift among new media dads, allowing the Shriiimp movement to thrive through the medium of badly written American cop shows. Oh well.
Follow Matt on Twitter: @Matt_A_Shea