Invader originals can be found as far afield as outer space as well as all over the world. Consisting of the artist traveling across the globe to install mosaics of alien characters onto the walls of the cities he visits, the Space Invaders project has come to be recognised as one of the greatest street art stunts in art history. Invader has installed mosaics in over 30 different countries and here is a roundup of the top 10 places where you can find one of his alien mosaics.
Born in Paris, Invader has carried out a series of ‘invasion waves’ in the French capital. One of the most notable Invader mosaics can be found in the 5th Arrondissement on Rue Monge, a short walk from Notre Dame cathedral. The small blue mosaic alien that sits unassumingly atop the road sign is the oldest recorded Invader mosaic. Installed in 1998, this mosaic was part of Invader’s first ever invasion wave which marked the start of his elaborate street art project. The mosaic was in fact the third artwork Invader installed in Paris, however the previous two were either removed or damaged and can no longer be found.
Invader keeps a log of the exact location of every mosaic he has installed and has even produced maps which detail his invasion waves and showcase the artist’s dedication to ‘continuously and restlessly’ invade new spaces.
Invader’s highest mosaic can be found 2362 meters above ground, stuck onto a ski lift in Anzère, a serene village in the canton of Valais in Switzerland. The little blue alien is set against a white backdrop with red energy lines radiating from its body. The alien’s beady eyes suggest it is watching over the skiers who zoom down the mountainside. Invader’s mosaics are made from water-resistant tiles and the artist uses innovative glues to ensure the mosaics can survive in adverse weather conditions like the blistering snow of the Swiss Alps.
Traveling further afield, Invader’s mosaics can even be found in Himalayan hills of Nepal. Spotted above a market stall in Ason Chowk is one of Invader’s alien mosaics from his Kathmandu invasion. In the heart of Kathmandu, Ason Chowk is an old market square, surrounded by ancient temples and shrines.
The large orange alien set against a bright blue backdrop contrasts markedly with the old city walls and represents the merger of ancient and contemporary culture. The mosaic in Ason Chowk is one of 28 mosaics Invader installed in Kathmandu. Invader typically aims to install around 20 to 50 mosaics per city he invades and has developed a sophisticated scoring system in which points are allocated to each mosaic based on the success of its location. Each city is ranked by its total score which makes the art project into an addictive game for the artist who is constantly trying to achieve a new high score.
Taking the idiom ‘the sky’s the limit’ to the next level, Invader has taken his project to outer space, installing a mosaic, SPACE2, in the International Space Station in 2015. The small mosaic of a red alien against a black backdrop set off for space aboard the European spaceship ATV-5 on July 29th 2014. The mosaic had to wait in space for several months before astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti reached the space station where she installed the mosaic in a permanent spot, making it one of a select few artworks to be exhibited in zero-gravity conditions.
Having been inspired by a Japanese arcade game, it seems apt that one of the top 10 places to find Invader is in Japan itself. Invader has carried out 6 invasion waves in Japan, installing 138 mosaics all over the country. One of the most notable of these is a mosaic of the beloved Japanese manga character, Astro Boy. Astro Boy is depicted zooming across a pedestrian bridge in the popular Shibuya district. Due to a harsh anti-vandalism policy and strict stance on graffiti, street art often struggles to survive in Japanese cities. Astro Boy is one of the few pieces of street art that has avoided being removed by the authorities.
One of Invader’s most controversial invasion waves was one he carried out in Bhutan, a landlocked country in South Asia which is often described as ‘a Buddhist kingdom’. As part of this invasion, Invader installed a colourful mosaic of a blue alien against a patterned backdrop in Cheri Goemba, Bhutan’s first monastery.
The artwork aroused criticism with critics of Invader calling his work sacrilegious and claiming it showed a disrespect of cultural heritage. Invader defended himself by arguing that he got permission to install the mosaic in the monastery, announcing on instagram that he received ‘the blessing of the monks’. Of the 11 mosaics installed in Bhutan this is the work that has garnered the most attention.
Invader's lowest mosaics can be found below sea level in the Cancun Bay in Mexico. Invader first thought about installing a mosaic underwater in 2007, but it wasn’t until 2012 that the artist came up with a viable way of doing it. Invader was able to install these mosaics with the help of British sculptor Jason deCaires Taylor who is best known for creating the world’s first underwater sculpture park. The renowned sculptor invited Invader to collaborate with him which resulted in Invader installing 3 mosaics onto deCaires Taylor’s sculptures at the bottom of Cancun Bay.
To celebrate the release of the Star Wars film, Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker in 2019, Invader traveled to Djerba, the Tunisian island where many of the locations from the original films can be found. A highlight of this invasion was a mosaic Invader created of Obi-Wan Kenobi holding his signature blue lightsaber which he installed onto the building that was used as the Jedi’s house in the 1977 film, Star Wars: A New Hope. The artist created 58 mosaics, all dedicated to the Star Wars franchise, and filmmaker Milan Poyet followed Invader throughout the invasion, documenting Invader’s mission to invade, not just a city ‘but a whole island’.
Invader has carried out 18 invasion waves in the UK’s capital city, London, and has installed 150 mosaics all over the bustling metropolis. An adorable pair of aliens can be found in the Victorian Grotto in the Museum of London. The blue and red aliens are both rendered in the style of a traditional city gentleman wearing top hats and carrying umbrellas. The use of small, square, mosaic tiles means these mosaics resonate with the 8-bit visual register of arcade games which reflects Invader’s desire to free the alien characters from their video games TV screens and bring them into the physical world.
Starting and ending with Paris, the 10th top place to find Invader has to be at the top of the Eiffel Tower. The blue alien is rendered against a white cloud and of the 1468 alien mosaics Invader has installed in Paris, this is the highest. The alien appears to be looking down on the people milling around the Champ de Mars, enjoying the spectacular view of the city which Invader grew up in.
Invader is continuously installing new artworks around the world, hoping to leave a mark not only on the streets but also on the minds of the people who encounter his works. The artist aims to decontextualise art by liberating it from the confines of museums and institutions and bringing it to the streets. New mosaics are constantly appearing, encouraging people to interact with their environments in a curious and playful way. Keep an eye out, whatever city you might be in, you never know when you might stumble across an original Invader mosaic.