We mention Banksy a lot on our blog, mainly because he provides us with such great social commentary. Our first office in Downtown LA used to be right next to one of his famous pieces, the girl swinging on the (Park)ing sign.
I used to walk by this every day and I truly appreciated the thought provoking aspect of this. It used to make me think of what other people thought of this particular artwork. Today, unfortunately it has been painted over and it no longer can be seen.
In the film 'Banksy Does New York', Banksy put on an amazing show for 31 days, using New York as an art gallery and the entire public was invited. With each day, there was a huge anticipation for what was to come. He even sold some of his artwork on canvas at a booth in Central Park. Pieces were sold for $60 and are now being appraised at $250,000! Of course people had no idea that those were original Banksy's so only a handful of canvases were sold.
What I find interesting about all of this, is the public reaction to this event. Banksy has always tagged with the purpose of sending a message and bring awareness to a certain cause. What I'm curious to know is if he is happy with the type of attention he's receiving? Judging from the film, it seems like people are drawn to the rebellious aspect of what Banksy does, along with the fact that he is some mysterious figure who constantly eludes the authorities. By orchestrating such a huge spectacle, all that publicity resulted in people seeking a financial gain from his street art. For example, Banksy's Sphinx (pictured below) was snatched by three mechanics and sold to an art gallery.
Another man was charging $5 to take pictures of a piece (pictured below) that Banksy painted in Brooklyn. The odd thing is, that the art doesn't belong to him. Just like how the Sphinx didn't belong to the mechanics. It belongs to the people, for everyone to see and appreciate. Its unfortunate that a lot of this has been lost in translation.
On the other hand, this also says a lot about us as a society. What we humans give importance to. The man charging people to take pictures of Banksy's art was repeatedly saying how he didn't care at all about the artwork and that he would ruin it if anyone tried to sneak a photo without paying him. Even if it wasn't Banksy's intention for other's to make money from his art, it still interesting that there is a clear message being communicated. It shows how he 'gifts' his artwork to the public and allows them to decide its value, whether monetary or emotionally. Certain pieces were revered in galleries, others were painted over by disgruntled store owners. For the most part, there was a strong social reaction one way or another. What Banksy did in New York for that brief period, said more about us than it did about Banksy. If you haven't had the chance to watch Banksy Does New York, I highly recommend watching it, just like everything else he's involved with, it will definitely make you think.