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July 30 2008

Banksy

There has been a lot of coverage in the media, especially in the UK, that the identity of well-known graffiti artist Banksy has been discovered.  I hope it hasn’t, and if it has, I would hope people would have the good sense to keep it quiet.

For those of you with no clue who I am talking about, Banksy is a graffiti artist working primarily in the United Kingdom, though he does occasionally pop up in various locations around the United States.  While the word “graffiti” immediately brings to mind all sorts of ugly scrawls on walls, but that word does a disservice to what this person does.  His works are only graffiti in the sense that he does his work on walls without the prior permission of the property owners.

His works have been popping up since the mid-90’s, but he became well known after he helped organize a graffiti exhibition called “Walls on Fire” in 2000.  When he fully turned to using stencils to do his work, his notoriety really took off, and he was able to do some amazingly elaborate pieces due to the amount of time stencils shaved off his free hand work.

His works, such as the Tesco Flag pictured above make an an amazing use of items already in the landscape, which also shows he must plot his moves well ahead of time to build the stencils to take these items into account.  His work is always tinged with humor, but also make powerful statements on society and the establishment that are hard to miss, let alone wonder if he isn’t also a bit correct in what he asks.

Unlike the revealing of Fake Steve Jobs that sent some people into a tizzy, Banksy is not only an artist, but socially relevant.  Part of his ability to say the things he does thorugh his art can only be accomplished via anonymity, and revealing whom he is would only serve to destroy any future works he may do, and possibly tarnish the past ones.

I was one of the people who was thrilled when W. Mark Felt was revealed to be “Deep Throat”, but after reading his back story, it changed my views of the man’s motivations for his actions.  While it had been something I had wished for, I was kinda sorry to see it happen.  With Banksy, I beg of the media to just leave it be.  Don’t actively pursue this, if he slips up, he slips up, but don’t try rooting him out because it just isn’t worth it as it will probably cost him his voice in this world, and we need it in these puzzling times.

Oh, for those of you who worry about the feelings of people that own the buildings he does his work on, most of them like it as it actually raises the value of their property as they can sell it as “a work of art with a home attached”.  (this actually happened)



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