Saturday, January 6, 2007

BANKSY, street artist changing the world one wall at a time.

Palestine Mural
Originally uploaded by papi337.
Banksy is the pseudonym of a street artist from Bristol, England though he doesn't like to use the word art because "it has a negative connotation that alienates people," he has said. No one knows his real identity. This is the man I heard about last year when he replaced 500 copies of Paris Hilton's debut C.D "Paris" with his own digital art and remixes with titles like "Why Am I Famous?", "What Have I Done?" and "What am I for?" in 48 different record stores in England. One cover showed Paris Hilton topless. Another had a dog's head instead of hers and the last was of her stepping out of a flashy car over homeless people with the caption "90% of success is just showing up."
As I researched more about him I realize he is no ordinary artist. A person who does not seek fame and has never been photographed unless he's covered. He does not sell T-shirts. He has not become a "brand". And he gives guides on his website on the best boxes to cut your stencils from and tips on explaining yourself to the cops. His work is all over the world, but mostly in London. In 2005 he painted 9 murals on the Palestine side of the Israeli West Bank Wall. One is of children digging through the barrier. Another is of a little girl holding balloons and floating above it all. At the London Zoo, he climbed into the penguin enclosure and painted "We're bored of fish" in 7 foot high letters. You can go to his website at and see his entire spectrum of mediums. There's so many more works he's done including painting and drawing. The youtube video above details more of his pieces and there is a sublime example of English rap featured from a group called "The Streets", song is "Turn the page." I have to go get that.
It seems to be that BANKSY is either adored or despised. But there is no doubt that his work connects. It is also undeniable to me that street art has become one of the only checks and balances the public has against the owned media or staunch art gallery's. I really get it. Especially in a time where anonymity does not exist, and people will sell their soul's to be famous, it's clear he keeps it about his art and not about himself. He said "The time of getting famous for your name on it's own is over. Artwork that is only about wanting to be famous will never make you famous. Any fame is a by-product of making something that means something. You don't go to a restaurant and order a meal because you want to have a shit."

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