Hong Kong MTR trains graffitied by fugitive American artist pair; China may be their next target

WATCH: Artists who call themselves Utah and Ether, and who later came unstuck when one of them was jailed in Australia, film themselves tagging three trains, apparently in Chai Wan and Kowloon Bay

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 13 July, 2016, 3:53pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 14 July, 2016, 9:17am

Video footage showing two fugitive American graffiti artists vandalising trains on Hong Kong’s MTR subway system has emerged online, showing scenes reminiscent of New York during the 1980s. One of the artists is now in jail in Australia for similar offences.

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In the undated video, posted online on July 11, the artists, who call themselves Utah and Ether, can be seen entering what appear to be the MTR railway depots in Chai Wan, on Hong Kong Island, and Kowloon Bay, in East Kowloon, and spray-painting trains with slogans such as “crime time”, before evading staff and then filming their handiwork from a distance.

On their website, Utah (real name Danielle Bremner) and Ether (Jim Clay Harper) write that after breaking probation in the US “by boarding on a plane to India in 2011 and knowing they can never come back, they set a course for new adventure, which lasted five years in the world’s largest and wildest continent – Asia”.

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The duo - who have deen dubbed the "Bonnie and Clyde" of the graffiti world by The New York Times - have since taken their self-described mission of “vandalism and art” through Taiwan and countries including India, Singapore, Thailand, Japan, the Philippines, and South Korea. After Hong Kong, their next target appears to have been China, although they have not posted any images or video of them working there.

Their sticker art and signature tags have been seen on the streets of Hong Kong for several years, but this is believed to be the first time they have vandalised MTR trains.

The pair appear to have come unstuck in Melbourne in May when Harper was arrested and jailed for six months after being caught spray-painting trains and buildings. He had pleaded guilty to eight damage charges, attempted robbery and a charge of recklessly causing injury.

Australian Associated Press earlier reported that Bremner was believed to have left Australia for Hong Kong after her partner was jailed.

The MTR has been asked for comment on the video.

The Hong Kong video is a part of the duo's marketing efforts for the release of their new book, Probation Vacation - Lost In Asia. They have written that the book is a chronicle of "the adventure and drama surrounding painting subways in Asia".