Banksy and the state of the Streets


He had been staring at it for weeks.Third shelf from the bottom, a fledgling contemporary art section was starting to grow roots at the Hawthorne Powell’s Books Store. Eddie was only 18 or something like that when Banksy’s book Wall and Piece arrived on the third shelf of that coffee saturated shop, the moment that marked our spring of street art and goofy creativity.

Banksy is what people have always loved- an “inside” outlaw- the Robin Hood. The man that will put a lawless message up, making fun of rich people and then get a rich person to buy it for 10,000 dollars, all the while the same piece adorns a bums drinking stakeout down some English ally. He has managed to become the perfect cocktail of modern irony, pop art, indy street cred and anonymity. All the while the rich keep adding to their tab and the college kids keep buying knock-off t-shirts.

One of the major draws to the Outpost show was Banksy, most of the signs had a “featuring Banksy” stamp of approvial. Predictably, the room with the Banksy items was a frenzy, people moving as quickly as they could in a swirl, like the tuna schools. It didnt seem that many stopped, in a traditional gallery sense, to absorb what was going on. Street art has always been one of two things, blatantly political or utterly random. Perhaps the messages are so plain that it doesn’t require a second thought, which is probably why people love it- its accessible. It is the antithesis of hot air filled, abstract art. You know, Picasso’s War.  Its simple, a helicopter with a bow tie, and you dont need a gallery tour to explain it. If its on a wall its also; free, open all night and a catalyst for thought on your walk home.

Off in the corner I noticed an easily disregarded inadvertatnly hilarious write up about the owner of the “Oi You Banksy Collection” , my notes on it went something like this-  Dude named George Shaw was going out for a friends 40 birthday party (a big deal in Aus.), for the occasion he purchased a new shirt. At the middle aged debotchery fest, someone asked him if his shirt featuring two gas masked characters was “a Banksy”. Later that night, in a half drunken google ‘oogle, he discovered all the glory of Bansky. Shortly there after he informed his wife that they would be purchasing tons of Banksys art to decorate their house, so they took out a bank loan and sold two of their cars (makes you wonder how many they had), in order to invest in the Andy Warhol of our time.

Theres not much I can say about that, so I will let one of the Banksy pieces from his own collection do the talking. Its a stencil of an art auction, inside the picture frame of the auction piece reads ” I cant believe you morons actually buy this shit.”

So regardless of if you like this style of art, whatever you do dont buy it. Steal it, paint over it, make your own, use it as inspiration, rip it off or inform the authorities but whatever you do not get a bank loan.

Well, maybe just buying a book from Powells is o.k.

“Saying one thing and doing another is hypocracy. Saying one thing and doing nothing is democracy” -B.

Big thanks to Colin for disregarding the “No Photos” signs and shooting tons of pictures!

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