Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Banksy banks(y) on Hollywood - Brad Pitt coughs up the cash

Here's my thought process regarding Banksy:
-I love his work.
-I have a fascination with his subversive acts.
-I'm confused by his highly (in)visible persona.

Jon and I attended Banksy's "Barely Legal" art show last weekend, and were blown away by both the astonishing artwork and the hoards of teenage girls with their moms. The industrial gallery was a perfect fit for Banksy's asphalt canvas, and the works' presentation was methodical and highly detailed.

Obviously Banksy's work is highly charged, which I really enjoy; however, walking around a crowded space with Kristen Dunst, I felt a little thrown off. Questions started cycling through my head that are applicable to all political/subversive art. Do Hollywood stars discredit Banksy's work by buying his paintings? I'm not claiming to have an answer, but it is a very valid question, considering the nature of Banksy's work. He is very vocal regarding the exceedingly wealthy, and the false god of celebrity; however, he is making a large sum of money from his art (painting at $100K), and has created a intentional aura of mystery regarding his identity (tons of videos). His art is so aggressive that it feels necessary to know his position. If Banksy is ok with these paradoxes surrounding his work, then I'm ok with it also - I've just never heard his philosophy. Shepard Fairey (of Obey) works for Corp. America by day, and subverts the very same companies at night. Everyone has their balance.

Since I drive around LA a lot for work, I have become compelled with the poster/graffiti art that springs up all over the city. The nature of the medium gives each piece a great narrative. How in the world did Shepard get that 10 foot Obey Giant on the side of that 5 story building? Did he get away? It also begs ethical questions. Where does an artist stand on personal property damage? Banksy has talked about his work in public spaces being justified by the legal presence of multi-billion dollar advertising companies. These artists are the anti-hereos of our generation, but their rising notoriety has the potential to remove the venom from their fangs. I have faith in them though.

Here are a few Banksy themed songs to get you through the middle of the week:

[mp3] The Clash -
Death or Glory
[mp3] Sex Pistols -
Anarchy in the UK
[mp3] The Streets feat. Pete Doherty -
Panging Out
[mp3] Rage Against the Machine -
Bullet in the Head
[mp3] CSS -
Meeting Paris Hilton

For more great photos visit Supertouch.


Blogger mers said...

I wondered about the same thing. He wont make tshirts but he will sell his artwork for more money than my life is worth.

It's so smug too that the people who buy his work are the ones he comments about so cleverly.

I love his work and have for years...but yeah, same morbid thoughts ran through my head.

12:57 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Shepard Fairey from Obey USED to say something subversive.. until he just decided to steal about 90% of the shit that FUCT have drawn up in the last 10 years... Banksy is dope though and I hope he keeps it up... but as far as Fairey goes I hope he admits he's thief... don't believe me? Here's the proof:

1:59 PM  
Blogger Will said...

This is actually an issue I grapple with everyday ... regarding whether or not one can even be a subversive artist - or what it even means to be subversive. The dadaists and the surrealists and even the pop artists did some pretty radical things, but so much of their aesthetic has been co-opted for advertising (thanks, David LaChappelle), that I wonder if it can be much more than "trendy." I like Banksy's stuff - but maybe it's only natural for commentators on celebrity to eventually become celebrities. This is the postmodern world.

3:07 PM  

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