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Joana Vasconcelos, Yinka Shonibare, and Others Customized Stormtrooper Helmets for Charity

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The U.K.’s ArtBelow, a non-profit that installs contemporary art in the London Underground, has tapped 14 artists — including Damien Hirst, Joana Vasconcelos (above), Yinka Shonibare (below), Jake & Dinos Chapman, D*Face (at bottom), and more — to created customized Stormtrooper helmets for a charity auction. The Stormtrooper, infantryman of the evil Empire in the “Star Wars” film series, is recognizable by its distinctive all-white helmet, which all the artists transformed for the upcoming auction.

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The “Star Wars”-inspired works were the idea of Ben Moore, a co-founder of ArtBelow and lifelong fan of the seminal sci-fi franchise, who curated the exhibition of transformed helmets.

“We all grew up with Star Wars and Stormtroopers,” Moore told the Independent. “They’re kind of like an iconic object. It wasn’t too hard to persuade the artists to do this. As soon as an artist sees this object, the creative mind is activated and overwhelmed with possibilities.”

The helmets are on view at the Saatchi Gallery from October 9-13 in the exhibition “Art Wars.” Come February 2014 they will be auctioned at Christie’s to raise money for the Missing People Charity and Moore’s quest to find his brother Tom, who disappeared a decade ago. In addition to the very personal aspect of the project, Moore sees it as a political gesture, too.

“What I wanted to do was liberate these cloned troopers by giving them independence through colour and artistic identity,” he told the Independent. “A Stormtrooper is a mechanised, obedient, machine-like soldier that’s under control. I wanted to free them from their uniformity.”

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— Benjamin Sutton

(First image: Joana Vasconcelos, “Crochet Vader,” 2013, © Unidade Infinita Projectos. Second image: Yinka Shonibare MBE, “Ipod Invader,” 2013. Third image: D*Face, “Stop Wars,” 2013. All images courtesy the artists and ArtBelow.)

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