The art world has officially gone to the Dark Side: Damien Hirst, D*Face, and Yinka Shonibare are among 14 artists who have given the classic Star Wars Stormtrooper helmets flashy makeovers. Now we know why Stormtroopers were such pissed off death machines—they had to wear the same boring, uncomfortable white suits while serving their jerk Dark Lord of a boss, Vader. But these lucky Sith finally found their true selves through artistic expression.
Designed for Art Below founder Ben Moore’s "Art Wars" project, all proceeds will go to the Missing Tom fund—a search for Moore’s brother, who disappeared in 2003 at age 31. Moore tells Co.Design, "My brother gave me my first Stormtrooper figurine—he brought it back from boarding school with other Star Wars figures." Of the connection between Tom and Art Wars, Moore says, "If you take anyone in the street, they're just a random member of the public. That's like the anonymity of a white Stormtrooper. But as a soon as you know someone, you know their individuality, their markings. We took white uniformed creatures and gave them individuality and identity. It’s a kind of statement that everyone means something to someone." Alongside the Missing People Charity, Moore’s family has reopened their quest and started MissingTom.com.
All participating artists were given a Stormtrooper helmet cast from the original 1976 moulds by Andrew Ainsworth and had free reign to make it their own. Artist D*Face freed the automaton killers into the Age of Aquarius with a groovy Stop Wars helmet that would make Yoda smile. Damien Hirst’s polka-dot design brings a much-needed splash of color to the gritty, gray Death Star. Bran Symondson’s Dark Side of the Dollar reminds us of the greed that drives the Sith—mo’ money, mo’ intergalactic problems. Mr. Brainwash channels Andy Warhol with his Campbell’s Condensed Trooper Spray design, and learning to crochet really taught Joana Vasconcelos’s Crochet Vader to relax. For his own design, curator Moore crushed a helmet into the size of a Rubik's Cube and called it Crushing Force.
"You can tell which artists just had their studios do the project for them—Damien Hirst didn’t touch the helmet himself, he just had his studio brand it with his trademark spots," Moore tells Co.Design. "D*Face and Mr. Brainwash definitely did their painting themselves."
The helmets are on view at London’s STRATA Art Fair with Satchi Gallery until October 13, and then will be displayed on billboards in the Regent’s Park Underground station to coincide with Frieze (October 17-20). In February 2014, the helmets will be auctioned off at Christie's for an estimated $10,000 to $50,000, all in support of the Missing Tom Fund.