Banksy is on the verge of completing a self-proclaimed artist residency in New York City, in which, every day he has added (donated) a work of art to the city and its people in some way, during October, 2013. Banksy has placed himself and his art in the city at the anniversary of Super Storm Sandy. Many of the works that he had presented during his residency have appeared in areas hit hardest by the storm, although this is neither stated by Banksy or commented upon in the press.
For his residency, Banksy has received almost no direct monetary gain. However he (I have the info that Banksy is a man from a good source) has received what seems to me to be more press than and other Contemporary artist has ever gained for one show – and “normal” gallery shows last for a month.
However, what inspired me to write this blog is not directly Banksy, but an article published yesterday, along with auxiliary articles and posts, including on Jerry Saltz’s Facebook page, which has become The social media meeting place for artists, and those who care about Contemporary art.
Yesterday, Bloomberg News (founded and mainly owned by Mayor Bloomberg) posted an article If Wall Street Worked Like the Art Market, It Would Be a Crime by Mark Gimein , a piece aimed at examining the art world’s gallery system. The article goes into how the bigger galleries both protect and control the careers of their artists, the collectors who can collect the artists, and control the price of the art. This is especially seen to benefit younger artists via buy-back dealers’ contracts that help prevent the works from an undesirable auction sale and price. However, the young Chinese artists, whose works go directly to auction, which is the custom in China, seem to fare well. Gimein asks for an artist, or artists who will forge a path outside of the gallery system.
Back to Banksy, who is not represented by a primary gallery. Banksy successfully (and successfully monetarily) forges his own path. Banksy decides where and even how his works will be shown. So before anyone much knew who he was he had his works hanging in museums, such as NYC’s Metropolitan and Museum of Modern Art. Why? Because Banksy pranked them and hung his own works there, promoting himself and the museums, with his prank (while forfeiting his art).
Banksy’s art is not just about what is depicted or performed. It is about where it is viewed. In his ongoing use of site (pun intended) he joins with other Street Artists, such as the “grandfather “of Street Art, Blek le Rat (Xavier Prou), but no one has used place as well as Banksy since the Impressionists moved to painting outdoors. For me, to discuss or comment on a Banksy without mentioning place, whether a specific geographic spot where a work is first seen to the original support of the paint (such as a living, unharmed elephant), would be to miss part of the point of the work.
To date, I can find no article blog or even lengthy comment that points to and explores the ongoing and incredible use of sites and neighborhoods where the works of BanksyNY have appeared. Re-examine each of the images within the context of the places where they have appeared. For instance, The forlorn suitor left waiting outside Larry Flint’s strip club; the pile of rubble statue of the one of the world’s oldest and enduring artworks, the Sphinx, which was found in a seemingly deserted Queens lot, and then sold and dismantled within the day; and the images and word art found in neighborhoods that are—putting it in politically correct terns – not posh. [ Please feel free to leave a comment and link to any blog or article to prove thus statement as incorrect, as my life’s work and passion deals with making art and sharing inspiration, not in proving that I am some kind of sharp investigative journalist.]
When I began this piece I commented that Banksy has received almost no remuneration from his October 2-12 show in NYC. The remuneration officially received came from a stand selling “spray art” at Central Park . The total take for the day was $420.00 according to BanksyNY’s In Better Out than In website (where you can see all the works of the show). Today, a street vendor was spotted and originally tweeted by @pagesixemily, from the New York Post’s Page Six at noontime. Her tweet:”Latest Banksy rip off. Chap in Soho selling “I am Banksy” t-shirts. Says he’s made $500.00 so far today pic.twitter.com/xxPwSp8nHt. “This means that a tee-shirt that sells for $20.00 can make more money that real art by a known artist when the artist’s name is mentioned on the shirt, but not on the street stand selling the art. That is both poignant and witty — two hallmarks I usually find in Banksy’s works. Could this tee-shirt seller actually be today’s Banksy performance art? As I write this it seems to me to be a possibility as when I look closely at the photo on a large monitor it seems to me that the black letters are sprayed on, not screen-printed. This, plus the fact that there still is no comment from Banlsy regarding his above mentioned website re today’s work. We shall discover the truth of this after this blog is posted, yet either way a point about selling art, or how we see what we think we see more that what actually is, has been made.
Mayor Bloomberg (who I basically like as he has done some good things for the city I was born in, raised in and love,such as basically freeing it from second hand smoke in public places) proclaimed vehemently that he and the NYPD have no tolerance for vandalism, and that includes Banksy’s current residency. According to the press, and as headlined in the NY Daily News (posted on the BanksyNY website), the hunt is on for Banksy. How sad for the city that is benefitting with added tourism, spending, and a sense of adventure, fun and well, fine art and discussions about art, including the gallery role in promoting art, all thanks to Banksy’s residency.
“First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.” -Mahatma Gandhi
Finally, let’s move back to the concept of place. Fine art almost always involves some kind of property rights, because whether painted in a canvas or wall or placed on a private lawn or in a public place, it takes up space. Place leads to questions of ownership and rights –ideas that can often lead to usurpation of others’ rights, and wars or real criminality by those who appear to be in power, including crimes against humanity. And we come full circle back to one on Banksy’s most enduring themes: peace – and peace through non-violent artistic protest, and peace always involves place, or places.
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Judy Rey Wasserman is an artist and the founder of Post Conceptual Art theory and also the branch known as UnGraven Image Art at ungravenimage.com.
Post Conceptual UnGraven Image Art theory is based at the intersection of ancient spiritual wisdom and cutting-edge contemporary science. It shows us a new and enhanced spiritual and science-based way to see the world. It is a life changing vision that can even become an actual new way of seeing that is a fulfillment of biblical prophecy. Can this be true? See for yourself. See more or yourself. Discover the art of Judy Rey Wasserman’s UnGraven Image. at ungravenimage.com.
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