The boys from Bristol have found themselves on the receiving end of a ban from TfL over a poster showing the cover from their new album, Heligoland. The original artwork, painted by Massive Attack's own Robert del Naja, has had to be redesigned after TfL decided it looked too much like graffiti.
'They won't allow anything on the tube that looks like 'street art'. They want us to remove all drips and fuzz from it so it doesn't look like it's been spray-painted, which is fucking ridiculous. It's the most absurd censorship I've ever seen,' del Naja said in response to the decision. An early inspiration for famed street artist Banksy, the boundaries between art and music have been central to del Naja's career with experimental album art beautifully complementing the haunting, dark and slightly menacing music which has become characteristic of Massive Attack.
They're not the first to fall foul of TfL's fragile aesthetic sensibilities; last year the Ministry of Sound's poster campaign for their New Year's O2 gig was banned in case it caused 'graffiti artists to think that such behaviour would be tolerated.' And it's not just vaguely graffiti-esque music posters either - a poster advertising the play 'Fat Christ' was banned in 2008 in case it offended passengers and even a 500 year old painting of Venus was considered too risqué.
TfL appear to be taking the lowest common denominator approach over their advertising guidelines and applying the somewhat dubious assumption that such posters will inflame latent graffitical tendencies among us when the only graffiti most tube travellers would be tempted to undertake would be to correct the service information board with accurate updates.