When a graffiti containing the words 'Banksy Oct. 2013' appeared in Los Angeles a few weeks ago, it was clear the anonymous celebrity artist was planning a new exhibition. As usual, there were pretty few clues as to where it would take place. Now the secret is out: New York's streets have the honour of being embellished under the title "Better Out Than In".
On October 1st, a photo with a new mural painting appeared on the website of the artist. The new work by Banksy was announced as the first of a series to constitute the exhibition "Better Out Than In. An artists residency on the streets of New York." That artwork shows one small boy standing on the back of another reaching for a spray can that forms part of a sign reading 'Graffiti Is A Crime.' The homepage makes the further announcement that Banksy is trying to hold a whole exhibition on the streets of New York.
Just like in a traditional exhibition, the catalog with an image description is not missing. The form is not the usual one, though. It comes in the form of a phone number displayed near the graffiti. People calling the toll free number will get to listen to shallow hotel lounge music and a recorded text:
"Hello, and welcome to lower Manhattan. Before you, you will see a spray
art by the artist Bansky [sic]. Or maybe not. It's probably been painted
over by now. (…) The children in this case represent youth, and the
sign represents – well, signs. (...) This piece is typical of Bansky's
Some of his works were recently auctioned in England for several 100,000 pounds after they had been callously removed from various walls in California or England thus depriving the intended public of their enjoyment. Banksy shows that despite the rampant greed of lowly house owners and thieving real estate companies, he hasn't lost either playfulness or wit. Banksy's works are known for their irony, unconventional content, and black humour; all this is far removed from the understanding of the limited intellect of the low lives stealing them from the communities.
Graffiti on public walls are (mostly) illegal, and that leaves the artist exposed to controversy. The reviews range from "Master of Street Art" from the knwoledgeable to "pure vandalism" by the usual critics not creative enough to even form a full sentence. Banksy keeps his identity a successful secret. To a supposed revelation of his identity a few years ago, he responded in his inimitable style: "I am unable to comment on who may or may not be Banksy, but anyone described as being 'good at drawing' does not sound like Banksy to me."
Even though the guerrilla artist has arrived at the pinnacle of the exact establishment which he mocks with his art, he leaves his art out on the road for the public and the communities to be enjoyed - with all negative consequences that entails. Shortly after the publication of the photos on Banksy's website, the exact location of the graffiti in New York was found and shared through social media media.
As the speaker on the recorded catalog description had predicted, the graffiti located in the Lower East Side was partially destroyed only few hours after its discovery: The sign with the spray can had been removed. Almost 24 hours later, the wall was completely repainted. Pure vandalism.
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