The Null Device

How Banksy broke America

The Times has more details about the recent Banksy exhibition in LA, detailing the meticulous planning that went into it, and the businesslike canny behind it and the various recent stunts that primed the publicity pump for it:
Despite its studiously rough-and-ready aesthetic, last Thursday's party was the climax of an operation almost six months in its planning and preparation. Kari Johnson, Tai's handler, was first approached "a few months ago" to see if her entertainment elephant might be available as an exhibit.
First, a few weeks ago, his team distributed 500 defaced copies of the new Paris Hilton CD in 42 music stores around the UK -- a prank that made headlines. Then, the Friday before last, Banksy dressed a blow-up doll in the orange jumpsuit and black hood of a Guantanamo Bay prisoner. He deflated it, stuffed it into a backpack and went for a day out at Disneyland. Inside, he sat on a bench and quickly unpacked, inflated his unwanted installation with a pump, and fixed it on some fencing facing a blind corner on the Rocky Mountain Railroad rollercoaster ride. By the time Disney's in-house security team spotted Donald and Mickey's uninvited new friend, Banksy was long gone, but a cohort remained to record the reaction for the exhibition.
According to the article, the planning has paid off in spades, with the exhibition taking an estimated US$4.5m, and doing what many British artists have tried and failed to—breaking America. The question remains of how much of his carefully preserved underground anti-establishment cool Banksy will keep now that most people have heard of his work by reading in celebrity gossip tabloids that Keanu and Brangelina bought pieces at an exclusive VIP premiere; and, indeed, how long he can remain both an outlaw street artist and a canny businessman selling to the establishment. (Surely it won't be long until local councils start suing Banksy Plc. or whatever his business entity is called for street-cleaning costs, if nothing else.)

The piece ends with a description of Banksy, whom the author met at a party:

Back at that party in June, what I found most telling about observing Banksy was not his appearance (dark hair, lightly bearded, nice trainers -- more I shall not say) but his behaviour. There were dodgems at this rather opulent do, and you couldn't get Banksy off them. While my girlfriend, son and I waited in the queue we watched as Banksy stayed resolutely in his ride until three five-minute changeovers had passed. Each time they did, he revved up afresh, electrically zooming with as much speed as possible into his fellow drivers. With each juddering impact, he grinned -- and then accelerated away at speed.

There are 1 comments on "How Banksy broke America":

Posted by: Bizarro bizarro.typepad.com/lowbagger_world Fri Sep 22 06:21:16 2006

Hey, if I was holding a big party, and I'd organised a dodgem ride, I'd be hogging it too. Bloody self-righteous journo being indignant about having to wait while Banksy hooned away. Who did he think the party was for anyway? Him? Hearing this is encouraging to me, Banksy clearly knows how to enjoy and milk his success, any other stooge of the system would be bending over to appease the whining freeloaders.

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