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Melbourne City Council workers have painted over a Banksy rat stencil in Hosier Lane, after the council neglected to tell them that the graffiti in the laneway (famous for its aerosol and stencil art) contained a priceless artwork among the graffiti.
Alexander said the city council would rush through retrospective permits to protect other famous or significant artworks in Australia's second-largest city. "In hindsight, we should have acted sooner to formally approve and protect all known Banksy works," she said.I wonder what's happening there. Have anti-street-art factions seized control of the council and decided to whitewash all of Hosier Lane as a declaration of a Rudy Giuliani-style zero-tolerance policy? What would they have done had they known that the works of an internationally renowned (and valuable) artist were there? Would we have seen the bizarre spectacle of a white-painted laneway with a solitary Banksy rat in one corner? Of course, one of the quickest ways to condemn street art in Melbourne is to bless it with the imprimatur of official approval; Australian graffiti artists are, by and large, larrikins who have only contempt for the approval of officialdom:
Vandals created another outcry in 2008 when they poured paint over the artist's stencil of a diver in an old-fashioned helmet and wearing a trenchcoat. That work was afterwards protected by a sheet of clear perspex, although vandals struck again and poured silver paint behind the barrier, tagging it with the words "Banksy woz ere."
Another nail in the coffin of the notion of Shoreditch as an artistic area: The Foundry, a bar and underground art gallery, is to be demolished, and replaced with a boutique hotel and shopping complex. Hackney Council has refused to designate the area as an "artistic space", which would have required them to seek to resettle it elsewhere; however, before it is demolished, a section of wall containing a Banksy stencil will be preserved, for later inclusion in Park Plaza's new hotel complex.
"If you go there you realise that it's not like any other space in London," said Turk. "Shoreditch has become so commercialised, like the new West End, and there isn't really anywhere that runs like the Foundry does."If the owners of the Foundry do relocate, I wonder where they'll go; whether they'll stay in the east end, moving outward to Dalston or Bethnal Green, or whether they'll leap the Thames and set up in Peckham, said to be the new "blank canvas" for up-and-coming artists in London.
Some anonymous culture jammer visited Bristol Zoo and affixed to the outside of a visitors' café a plaque framing it as the "Human" enclosure, drily writing up the behaviours and characteristics of H. sapiens:
Of course, given the location of this prank, one does wonder whether or not it's the work of a certain local artist.
The human diet is very adaptable to regional crop varieties and personal taste, with some groups able to live almost exclusively on chipped potatoes and sugary drinks.
Groups of humans are often fed by unrelated individuals in exchange for tokens made of paper, metal and plastic -- behaviour which can frequently be seen inside this enclosure.
A few art-related items today: firstly, Boing Boing's Offworld video-game blog has a gallery of video-game-inspired artwork by Melbourne street artist/illustrator Ghostpatrol. It's mostly influenced by old Nintendo games, and is drawn in Ghostpatrol's characteristically organic twee watercolour style, avoiding the clichés of isometric/8-bit/pixel-art styles. Quite lovely stuff; I recommend listening to some Qua whilst looking through it.Josh Keyes is an artist who produces tableaux juxtaposing (or, indeed, mashing up) various forms of nature and urbanism, with varying degrees of ontological violence. The results (totem poles sprouting Halliburton-branded surveillance cameras, grizzly bears standing atop wrecked cars submerged in water, deer on sign-covered treadmills in space) are meticulously drawn, with the sort of absolutely deadpan realism of encyclopaedia illustrations: Dan Hillier, whose oeuvre leans more towards surrealistic Victorian engravings:
One can find his prints for sale at the Old Truman Brewery market in Shoreditch on Sundays (where Your Humble Correspondent bought prints of the two above images).
Meanwhile, there is Banksy's ongoing exhibition at the Bristol City Museum, which is going until the end of the month. Entry is free, though prepare to wait up to four hours in the queue, and get there early. It's well worth it, though; Banksy's animatronics, for example, are superb, and his oil paintings and other non-stencil pieces are excellent (the large oil painting of Parliament occupied by chimpanzees, for example, is splendid). I had occasion to see it recently; my photos are here, though they don't quite capture the works in all their glory.
(According to The Times, Banksy charged the Bristol City Museum just £1 for putting on the exhibition, on the condition that all CCTV footage that could identify him was destroyed. Also, only four staff were informed of what was being planned (the rest were told that filming was taking place). Given the level of technical skill in his pieces, I suspect that the reason Banksy is so keen to keep his identity secret has to do not so much with fear of getting caught for illegal graffiti as fear of being outed as working for The Man; I wouldn't be surprised if his day job was in advertising, film production or similar.)
Finally, French street artist Invader (i.e., the chap who sticks tile mosaics of old-school video-game characters to high surfaces) is exhibiting in London until 17 September.
Banksy's latest art project, unveiled in New York, is a step away from "street art" and culture jamming and into the territory of conceptual art: he seems to have taken a leaf out of Pascal Bernier's book, and opened a fake pet shop full of grotesque animatronic food-animals, such as walking chicken nuggets.
He added that there was a serious, philosophical aspect to the work, saying: "I wanted to make art that questioned our relationship with animals and the ethics and sustainability of factory farming but it ended up as chicken nuggets singing."
Banksy defended the pet show exhibition even though it contained no graffiti by saying: "If it's art and you can see it from the street, I guess it could still be considered street art."There's more about it here.
His work fetching huge sums, street artist Banksy has refused to authenticate five artworks up for auction this weekend, on the grounds that he does not approve of his art being removed from its original setting. The auctioneers are putting on a brave face, though:
A spokesman for the auctioneers said: "Banksy hasn't said they are fake. I don't know why he's not authenticated them... He's saying that street art should stay on the streets."
On its website, Pest Control said that since its creation in January, 89 street pieces and 137 screen prints attributed to Banksy had turned out to be fake.
"Pest Control does not authenticate street pieces because Banksy prefers street work to remain in situ and building owners tend to become irate when their doors go missing because of a stencil," Pest Control said.(Pest Control is the official organisation with authority to authenticate Banksy artwork, which was established in response to a spate of fake Banksys. Not to be confused with Vermin, an unauthorised organisation which vouched for the authenticity of the artworks being sold.)
New claims have emerged about the true identity of street artist Banksy. Based on photographs taken in Jamaica, the Mail On Sunday claims that Banksy is one Robin Gunningham, a former public school pupil from Bristol. Banksy's spokespeople have refused to confirm or deny this.
Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd's nephew, Van Thanh Rudd, is entering a stencil-style painting (of Ronald McDonald carrying an Olympic torch past a burning monk), in an exhibition in Vietnam; a painting which bears a striking resemblance to a Banksy piece:
Rudd has acknowledged the similarity, claiming that it is "a direct reference 2 Banksy". (I wonder whether he acknowledged the fact that about half of the painting is a copy of another, more famous, work when he applied for the exhibition, or only now.) Of course, there have been works which were even more copied (most notably Marchel Duchamp's "L.H.O.O.Q.", i.e., a postcard of the Mona Lisa with a mustache drawn on, or Andy Warhol's Campbell's Soup cans), though those were commentaries on the original work, the artistic process or the nature of originality. Rudd's work, however, appears to be intended as a commentary on the Olympics/American imperialism/Chinese oppression of Tibet (delete as applicable), and thus such an explanation doesn't hold water.
This weekend, your humble correspondent went to the Cans Festival, a huge stencil art exhibition in a tunnel under the former Eurostar platforms of Waterloo Station. The festival organisers took the entire road tunnel and transformed it into a gallery, with artists from all over the world painting pieces (most involving stencilling, though a few being paste-ups) along its length. The most publicised name attached to the exhibition was, of course, Banksy, and he had a number of works there; as well as some stencils, he was responsible for a sitting-room installation with derelict sofas and an old piano made available to the public and a number of "remixed" classical statues. Though there were several dozen more artists, and indeed, anyone could come along, register and add their artwork to the exhibition. (On Saturday evening, a section of the passageway was sealed off from the general public and made available only to registered artists, who were busily adorning it with stencils.)
Anyway, here are a few photos; the entire set is here:
As Camden Market (and the celebrity-infested Hawley Arms) burned this weekend, somebody took advantage of the commotion to paint over the famous Banksy maid up the road, leaving only a stencil saying "all the best".
As Banksy's artwork continues to climb in value (a collector recently bought a piece on a building wall in Notting Hill for £208,100, plus the (not inconsiderable) cost of removing and relocating the wall), BBC News has a piece on how to tell an authentic Banksy from a knockoff:
wo key signifiers of a genuine Banksy work are a busy location and a political subject, he says. While other graffiti artists go for railway lines or rundown areas to reach their community, Banksy aims for the wider public.
"The drawing will be reasonably competent, not brilliant, he's not a great artist. And it will be making a small jokey point about something. It's very difficult to fake that authentically. I don't doubt people will try but he'll distance himself from it."
The Guardian's art critic Jonathan Jones has a thought-provoking critique of Banksy:
One of Banksy's most irritating attributes is his conservatism, as an artist who seems proud of the fact that he "draws", rather than just making "concepts". He appeals to people who hate the Turner prize. It's art for people who think that artists are charlatans. This is what most people think, so Banksy is truly a popular creation: a great British commonsense antidote to all that snobby pretentious art that real people can't understand. Yet to put your painting in a public place and make this demand on attention while putting so little thought into it reveals a laziness in the roots of your being.
Perhaps the rise of Banksy is the fall of Art - that is, the waning of art as the force it has been in recent culture. A decade ago, the art of the Damien Hirst generation pushed itself into anyone's view of what was happening in Britain. Probably the rise of Banksy means that moment is coming to an end; people care more about other things. He is a background artist, as in background music: like all graffiti, his is essentially an accompaniment to other activities. Chunky sprayed-letter graffiti is a background to skateboarding. Banksy is a background to hating New Labour. The reason to admire Damien Hirst is that he makes art as if art mattered. In Banksy, the philistines are getting their revenge.
Banksy's latest opus is a replica of Stonehenge made of portable toilets, installed on the Glastonbury festival site:
The artist, never shy of controversy, has raised some eyebrows with the location of the artwork in the "Sacred Space" field, venerated by the festival's more hippyish devotees. Banksy himself has no illusions about the sanctity of his work, however: "A lot of monuments are a bit rubbish," he said, "but this really is a pile of crap."Is it just me, or is Banksy losing his edge? Offending a few hippies (a rather soft target) is not quite the same as taking on, say, Disney Corp., the state of Israel or the oppressive existence of police forces, and I suspect that his latest work wasn't dumped in the field in the dead of night, but probably arranged with the festival organisers to add some subversive cachet and/or appropriately edgy celebrity value to their event. Mind you, whether Banksy was ever really subversive is a matter for some contention; Charlie Brooker (who, with Chris Morris, incorporated aspects of Banksy into the Nathan Barley character) reckons that this particular emperor never had any clothes.
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.
Photos from Banksy's recent exhibition in LA, or actually from a separate VIP preview. It looks like it was a great event, with the stencil pieces, sculptures, the ornate sitting room full of "remixed" paintings refusing to stay in their frames, and, of course, the elephant. They had an elephant, painted pink, wandering around the warehouse and being metaphorical. While the elephant's handlers (a company which specialises in leasing elephants, under carefully controlled conditions, for events) stated that the elephant was not in the least way harmed, animal rights groups were not satisfied with that explanation, some seeing the very stunt as an affront to the dignity of animals:
The political statement by the artist made no impression on Dyer: 'If this man is an artist, then why couldn't he build one out of papier-mache?' Les Schobert, a former L.A. Zoo curator who is a prominent voice in the animal rights movement, said the exhibit 'degrades the elephant. Here we have an endangered species. And we're taking it and moving it into a warehouse and painting it. It's a mockery. There's no reason. This isn't a religious ceremony in India.'And the BBC has a piece about Banksy, claiming to authoritatively identify the pseudonymous artist:
His real name is Robert Banks, a 32-year-old from Bristol, that cultural melting-pot of a port where graffiti art has a long heritage.
He has no formal art education but learned his craft designing bootleg rock memorabilia. Before that, he'd started spraying graffiti when he was an unhappy 14-year-old schoolboy.And a Guardian piece here, including the claim that the Paris Hilton CD was done in collaboration with LA-based mash-up artist Danger Mouse.
Not one to rest on his laurels, Banksy has been up to more pranks. His most recent has been placing a hooded detainee mannequin in Disneyland:
The hooded figure was placed inside the Big Thunder Mountain Railroad ride at the California theme park last weekend.
It is understood to have remained in place for 90 minutes before the ride was closed down and the figure removed.There is more about the stunt here. Meanwhile, Banksy is organising a "three day vandalised warehouse extravaganza" in Los Angeles this weekend. Given that it's on both his website and the BBC News, I wonder whether the LAPD or FBI will raid it.
And here is what looks like Banksy's making-of video for his Paris Hilton project.
And eBay have pulled the Banksy/Paris Hilton album listing. Not surprisingly, given that it's unlikely that he licensed Hilton's likeness or trademarks (including "That's Hot!™", which reportedly appears on the CD), or indeed the original CD artwork mashed up to make the item. In this permission-based society, there is no such thing as fair use for purposes of parody, unless you have a legal department the size of Time Warner behind you.
Someone has posted photos of Banksy's Paris Hilton CD, from a copy found in a HMV in Birmingham:
There's also a copy on eBay. Bidding is currently running at £250, with just under 10 days to go.
"Guerilla artist" Banksy has now branched out into music; he has created a counterfeit Paris Hilton album, and droplifted 500 copies into shops in the UK:
On the cover of the doctored CD, Ms Hilton's dress has been digitally repositioned to reveal her bare breasts; on an inside photo, her head has been replaced with that of her dog.
On the back cover, the original song titles have been replaced with a list of questions: "Why am I famous?", "What have I done?" and "What am I for?"
Instead of Ms Hilton's own compositions, the replacement CD features 40 minutes of a basic rhythm track over which Banksy has dubbed Ms Hilton's catchphrase "That's hot!" and other extracts from her reality TV programme The Simple Life.I wonder how one would go about obtaining one of these improved Paris Hiltons.
Guerilla artist Banksy's latest effort: a piece on the wall of a building in Bristol, depicting a naked adulterer hanging from a window ledge by his fingers whilst the cuckolded husband searches for him.
The Bristol City Council, whose offices overlook the unsolicited artwork, is taking an uncommonly enlightened approach to it: rather than automatically obliterating it and citing Giuliani and the broken-windows theory of public order as justification, it is asking the public whether it is art or vandalism.
Unfortunately, Westminster City Council don't take kindly to sculptures being installed without planning permission, and, considering it as dumped waste, removed it.
A PR person from British Telecom, however, took a more generous view of the work, and tried to spin it as "a stunning visual comment on BT's transformation from an old-fashioned telecommunications company into a modern communications services provider".
In today's Grauniad, Banksy writes about the war on street art in Melbourne:
"The Melbourne scene is incredibly diverse," says Alison Young, head of the department of criminology at Melbourne University. "The range of artists includes people in their 40s, in their teens and a relatively large number of women." Young was commissioned by the city council to draw up a draft graffiti strategy last March in which she recommended tolerance zones be set up where street art and graffiti be allowed a small space within the city, where writers and artists would be at a lower risk of being arrested. "This was rejected by the city council, despite it generating lots of public support and despite evidence being presented that zero tolerance, for lots of reasons, wouldn't work."
Instead, the council doubled its anti-graffiti budget. "The clean-up is an imposition of a supposedly mainstream, or dominant, cultural view," says Young, "in denial of the diversity of cultural styles that actually exist within a city space."Evidence of Melbourne's stencil-art scene survives online in photographs on websites:
The street art destroyed in Melbourne will survive on graffiti's new best friend - the internet. The web has done wonders for graffiti; it perfectly reflects its transient nature, and graffiti is ludicrously overrepresented on its pages. The ability to photograph a street piece that may last for only a few days and bounce it round the world to an audience of millions has dramatically improved its currency. On the other hand, the internet is turning graffiti into an increasingly virtual pastime. It is now possible to achieve notoriety by painting elaborate pieces in secluded locations, without the associated risk of arrest that is usually attached. By posting photographs online you can become a significant graffiti writer from a town where none of your work is actually visible.Though, given that the Australian government has just banned a video game simulating the writing of graffiti, and is planning a national internet censorship firewall, how much would you want to bet that graffiti-related websites would be viewable unfiltered from within Australia?
And as Melbourne has been Giulianified into inoffensive blandness and approved commercial messages, due largely to the Commonwealth Marketing Exercise, er, Games, London (with a far bigger commercial extravaganza coming to its artist-infested East End in 2012) is likely to be next:
The precedent set by Melbourne does not bode well for London in the build-up to the 2012 Olympics. The games will be set in east London, where Hackney is one of the few remaining parts of the city where affordable studio space for artists still exists. After the warehouses have been flattened by compulsory purchase orders, the pots of grey paint will be opened and an area rich in street culture and frontier spirit will disappear. Factory doors whose flaked layers of Hammerite reveal history like the rings in a tree stump will be thrown on the fire. Disused cranes perched on top of foundries like skeletal crows will be torn down. Everything will be replaced by a cardboard-partitioned village perched on a pile of cheap laminate flooring. And if you think the graffiti will be removed so it can be replaced by vistas of clean urban space, think again. Every meaningful spot will be clogged with giant billboards by the likes of McDonald's encouraging you to get fit by staying at home and watching the games on TV.
A copy of the Nathan Barley DVD showed up in the post today. At first glimpse, it's pretty good; it has the six episodes plus a variety of deleted scenes, galleries of much of the artwork (SugaRAPE covers, gig posters (the one with "DVD Pausing Wankers" or something similar was amusing) and mockups of T-shirts worn by fashion victims), and all the TV Go Home "Cunt" columns that gave rise to the Nathan Barley character. It didn't have a video of Bad Uncle or Flesh Police that I could find, but you can't have everything. And it did have some junkie-choir footage (of them doing a version of Grandmaster Flash's White Lines, like a Pete Doherty-fronted Polyphonic Spree) in the extras menus. There's also a Shockwave-ish DVD-ROM section, and it's all Region 0.
The DVD comes in a posterised, Designers Republic-referencing cover, the inside of which contains the disc and a small, thick black booklet:
Look familiar? Yes, they're ripping off the look of Banksy's Banging Your Head Against A Brick Wall and Existencilism (there's even a page with the heading "Websistentialism"), down to the cocky soundbites and autobiographical paragraphs in Courier. In fact, every page that's not comprised of material from the series is a textbook Banksyism. Not that they try in any way to hide this:
Yesterday, Your Humble Narrator went to Banksy's latest exhibition, titled "Crude Oils". It was held in Westbourne Grove, Notting Hill, in a shop which had been transformed into a ruined art gallery for the duration of the exhibition. By this, I mean that it had been filled with props such as smashed artefacts and a skeleton in a security guard's uniform, and then populated with dozens of live rats, which were kept provided with pellets and water in shattered vases and such. Because of the rats (which, apparently, were borrowed from a film animal company and had probably appeared in any films, TV shows and commercials made in London recently and containing rats), the main part of the gallery was behind a plexiglass screen and one had to sign a disclaimer, promising not to bother the rats. Time inside the main part of the gallery was limited to five minutes per person.
The exhibition itself was quite entertaining, in characteristic Banksy fashion, consisting of various artworks "remixed" and updated for the grim meathook present, as seen through Banksy's cynical, kitchen-sink sensibility. There were romantic landscape paintings updated with police incident boards, CCTV cameras, submarines, vandalism and violence. A classical nude statue was covered in tattoos, and a bust wore a gimp mask. All the usual sort of thing, and enough to not disappoint any Banksy fan. Though the rats were the stars of the show, and their presence (which one could see, if not smell, all around) made the most striking impression.
The exhibition is open for two more days, 11am to 8pm. Meanwhile, my photos thereof are here.
The activity doesn't seem to have made him many friends; Israeli troops didn't see the humour in it and pointed their guns at him, while an old Palestinian man complained that it made the hated wall look beautiful.
Subversive underground artist and/or attention-seeking tosser Banksy strikes again, this time droplifting four artworks into famous New York museums, disguised as an old-age pensioner. (via 1.0)
This afternoon, Your Humble Narrator caught a bus down Charing Cross Road and made it down to Santa's Ghetto a subversive/punk/coolsie art gallery in the guise of a temporary gift shop/graffiti-covered squat.
Santa's Ghetto is a shopfront, covered with graffiti and filled with stolen, tag-covered street furniture and confrontational poster/stencil art. Perpetual public face of the cool set in London, Banksy, was a mainstay of this exhibition, with prints of his stencils on sale (for around £165 or so; my credit card didn't stretch quite that far), as well as T-shirts reading "SUICIDE BOMBERS JUST NEED A HUG", £10 notes bearing Princess Diana's image (for £10.99), and copies of his new book, "Cut It Out". Also, £5 will get you a roll of adhesive tape printed with "POLITE LINE / DO NOT GET CROSS". Other exhibitors included Jamie "Tank Girl/Gorillaz" Hewlett, who had his cartoonish prints of butt-kicking soldier girls and all-American zombie armies, Jamie Reid (who did the Sex Pistols' cover artwork in the 1970s, and seems to be doing much the same sort of thing; I suppose catering to nostalgic middle-agers is where the money is), and D Face (who does those graffiti-character stickers, which look not unlike the ones plastered all over empty shop windows in Melbourne). And there was a picture of two snowmen humping signed, apparently, by Raymond Briggs (of Fungus the Bogeyman fame), though his name wasn't on the flyer. Apparently Chris Cunningham and 3D (of Massive Attack) had works there too, though I didn't see them.
Santa's Ghetto was, in some ways, similar to the Outlandish Exhibition that I saw in Melbourne some six months ago. Except that it wasn't quite as confrontational and wasn't held in an industrial wasteland; it was more a public face of "subversive" art just around the corner from Oxford Street, London's main fairy-light-festooned and perpetually crowded permanent sale and/or Düreresque vision of Hell. There were also no bikies and no Chopper Read artworks, and rather than a punk/noise band, an iPod was playing some funky grooves, of the sort you could expect to hear in a fashion shop or trendy bar, from behind the counter. The business of Santa's Ghetto was not so much to shock and offend the bourgeoisie as to part them from their money (it even takes credit cards) whilst giving them a sense of being subversive and transgressive and underground. (In case you're wondering, I bought a copy of the new Banksy book.)
There are photos here. The exhibition/sale closes on the 24th (that's today), so if you want some Polite Line tape for wrapping your gifts, you'd better hurry.
A scientist at The University of Florida has grown a brain in a vat, which can fly a simulated F22 fighter. The "brain", made of rat neurons, controls the simulated combat hardware through an interface to a PC. And so, real life imitates Banksy stencils. (via bOING bOING)
Jamaican underground photojournalist types unmask Banksy, and take him to task for being a hypocritical wanker. Let the flaming begin. (via MeFi)
The latest troublemaker of the London art world is some calling himself AK47, who claims to be an international "arto-political movement" named "Art Kaida".
He also claimed that AK47 was a rapidly growing international "arto-political movement", but was vague about the membership, saying only that it had "a lot", and adding: "It's not about members, it's about believing. Believe, and you're in.
(Which, to me, translates as either "it's just one bloke", or "it's just one bloke and a bunch of variously deranged hangers-on".)
Anyway, AK47 recently took responsibility for stealing a pink neon sign called Just Love Me, by celebrated angstmonger Tracey Emin, from outside the Hackney Empire theatre, sometime after filching a sculpture by yesterday's aesthetic terrorist bad-boy Banksy. (Does this mean that Banksy is now safe and accepted and conventional?)
Asked to explain his motives further, he said it was "an act of terrorism" and he was posing the question, "What is terrorism?"
("Ooo! Look at me, I'm a *TERRORIST*!" Wanker, more like it. For one, that sort of posturing, stealing a Tracey Emin neon sign and calling it terrorism, cheapens the whole idea of terrorism as art. What would Andre Breton, who said that the archetypal Surrealist act would consist of "going into the street, revolver in hand, and shooting at random into the crowd", say about Mr. AK47's oh-so-scary "terrorist" outrages?)
Now if Mr. AK47 wants to be really hardcore, he should come to Melbourne and steal one of Chopper Read's paintings.
Subversive/"subversive" stencil artist Banksy has done it again; this time he has snuck a piece of artwork into Tate Britain; the piece consists of a found oil painting with police tape stencilled onto it, and is meant to be a protest against how obsession with crime and paedophilia is ruining Britain, or something to that effect. Another version of the painting is being sold in another, hipper, gallery, along with a video of Banksy (in disguise) hanging the piece in the Tate.
The Graun's Simon Hattenstone interviews Banksy:
Banksy's attitude to brands is ambivalent - like Naomi Klein, he opposes corporate branding and has become his own brand in the process. Now, people are selling forged Banksies on the black market or stencil kits so we can produce our own Banksies. Does he mind being ripped off? "No," he says. "The thing is, I was a bootlegger for three years so I don't really have a leg to stand on."
Incidentally, some of the fake Banksies (in particular, the chimp with the sandwich board and the parachuting rat) have ended up on the walls of Fitzroy (look around Brunswick St., between Gertrude and Johnston Sts.) They lack Banksy's signature (though at least the people responsible didn't try to take the credit, regardless of clueless journalists putting photos of them next to features about "the Melbourne underground art scene" or whatever it was).
Over the past couple of years the very brands he despises have approached him to do advertising campaigns for them. Is there work he would turn down on principle? "Yeah, I've turned down four Nike jobs now. Every new campaign they email me to ask me to do something about it. I haven't done any of those jobs. The list of jobs I haven't done now is so much bigger than the list of jobs I have done. It's like a reverse CV, kinda weird. Nike have offered me mad money for doing stuff." What's mad money? "A lot of money!" he says bashfully.
Why did he turn it down? "Because I don't need the money and I don't like children working their fingers to the bone for nothing. I like that Jeremy Hardy line: 'My 11-year-old daughter asked me for a pair of trainers the other day. I said, 'Well, you're 11, make 'em yourself.' I want to avoid that shit if at all possible."
And Banksy is having an exhibition at an undisclosed London warehouse. He won't, of course, be in attendance there (or so he says, anyway), with his art being technically illegal and pseudonymity being vitally important.
A chap by the name of Banksy is responsible for a lot of subversive and/or pranksterish stencil graffiti around London and various other cities across the world.
He's also behind a recent anti-Jubilee party in London. (In Britain, republicanism has an air of unspeakable subversiveness about it, like revolutionary anarchism; unlike in Australia, where every respectable non-Liberal-voting latté-leftist and progressive business/media identity from the big end of town is a card-carrying republican).
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