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Banksy Mural Painted Over
April 20, 2007 3:03 AM   Subscribe

The Independent's headline actually uses the word 'obliterated'. I like this quote from the stuffed shirts at Travel for London - "We recognise that there are those who view Banksy's work as legitimate art, but sadly our graffiti removal teams are staffed by professional cleaners, not professional art critics." This Reuters article reckons the mural was worth £250,000. This isn't an excellent photo of the mural before it was whitewashed, but it's the only one I could find (Flickr). Do Banksy's pieces create an atmosphere of "neglect and social decay" or are they valuable pieces of art that should be preserved? These folks were so upset that the prospective buyers of their house in Bristol were going to paint over one of his pieces that they've changed the terms of sale. "The owners consider it a work of art and want it kept as it is. They came to us to help sell it as a mural with a house attached."
posted by chuckdarwin (76 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite

 
Do Banksy's pieces create an atmosphere of "neglect and social decay" or are they valuable pieces of art that should be preserved?

Both. Make a high-res photo and paint over. Send the bill to Banksy.
posted by Harald74 at 3:18 AM on April 20, 2007


Haralk74 - I'm pretty sure he can afford it.
posted by chuckdarwin at 3:26 AM on April 20, 2007


I don't like Banksy's work, but one of the things I do like is that he's deliberately cocking up the conventional art market by making work that's deliberately transient. (Of course, folk have been making temporary public art since forever, and the standard practice, as Harald74 says, is to document the thing, and sell that documentation, if selling is your thing.)
posted by jack_mo at 3:32 AM on April 20, 2007


I would rather the Banksy stuff was left just so could it could raise the bar on the otherwise crap standard of graffiti in England. There is a need for better vandal role models.
posted by srboisvert at 3:36 AM on April 20, 2007


chuckdarwin: What's an anti-capitalist supposed to do when the big bucks start rolling in?
posted by Harald74 at 3:37 AM on April 20, 2007


Harald74 - *shrug* Stay strong, one would hope... or accept all the offers and then devise a very public and creative way to redistribute the money...

Wallpaper Downing Street with £100 notes?
posted by chuckdarwin at 3:51 AM on April 20, 2007


srboisvert said - 'I would rather the Banksy stuff was left just so could it could raise the bar on the otherwise crap standard of graffiti in England.'

I'd personally rather it were left up because most of it is pretty damned good and I'd rather look at his stuff than a million identical hideous pebbledash semi-detached walls.
posted by chuckdarwin at 3:57 AM on April 20, 2007


Yay for vandalism so long as its content is in tune with my edgy aesthetic sensibilities!

signed,
all fans of Banksy
posted by game warden to the events rhino at 4:01 AM on April 20, 2007 [5 favorites]


There is a need for better vandal role models.

2003 Guardian interview:
Does he consider himself an artist? "I don't know. We were talking about this the other day. I'm using the word vandalism a lot with the show. You know what hip-hop has done with the word 'nigger' - I'm trying to do that with the word vandalism, bring it back."
posted by pracowity at 4:05 AM on April 20, 2007


But also this:
Here's a mystery for you. Renegade urban graffiti artist Banksy is clearly a guffhead of massive proportions, yet he's often feted as a genius straddling the bleeding edge of now. Why? Because his work looks dazzlingly clever to idiots. And apparently that'll do.
posted by pracowity at 4:07 AM on April 20, 2007 [6 favorites]


chuck: More inside is your friend.
posted by knave at 4:07 AM on April 20, 2007


"You wouldn't paint over a Van Gogh and nor should you paint over a Banksy."

*choke*
posted by Koko at 4:10 AM on April 20, 2007


Sorry knave - it's my first post. More inside is a sort of cut tag? Too bad I can't edit it.
posted by chuckdarwin at 4:14 AM on April 20, 2007


As a native Bristolian that actively supports/documents/follows the Bristol street art scene, I couldn't care less about Banksy now. He's not really relevant to what's going on, (as far as I know) he's not influencing any of the really awesome artists (45rpm, 3dom, Sickboy, Cheo, Feek, Ponk, Zesk, Sums, Voyder, Cheba etc etc), and his art has been co-opted by the city and people as some kind of money making tourist scam, whilst they actively destroy all the other Bristol street art, because it's "vandalism".

None of this is Banksy's fault, but he's quickly becoming less of a cultural spokesperson, and more of a brand, and that destroys the point of his work for me.

srboisvert wrote: I would rather the Banksy stuff was left just so could it could raise the bar on the otherwise crap standard of graffiti in England. There is a need for better vandal role models.

Maybe you should look harder - I don't know where you live, but it's certainly not that way in quite a few cities in the country. Taking a look around some Flickr pools might help you change your mind.
posted by saturnine at 4:16 AM on April 20, 2007 [1 favorite]


Generally people put a few lines on the front page (not a few paragraphs), and if there is more detail to include, they post it as the first comment in the thread. Honestly the "new post" form doesn't help you do this, it's just customary here. Hopefully Matt will make it like the AskMe posting page some day, where "more inside" is an actual feature.
posted by knave at 4:17 AM on April 20, 2007


I started out kind of liking Banksy, when he seemed to be giving the art establishment the finger. Now he's been subsumed by the beast, he's just another YBA.
posted by Jakey at 4:21 AM on April 20, 2007


If you're not willing to have your stuff painted over then you don't know the first thing about graffiti.
posted by furtive at 4:26 AM on April 20, 2007


obligatory:
Metafilter: looks dazzlingly clever to idiots
posted by furtive at 4:27 AM on April 20, 2007


Doing this kind of thing in a country without freedom of speech might actually mean something. In the UK it just looks like empty attention seeking, and I can't help but find it a little bit insulting to those people around the world who actually need to break the law in order to express themselves.
posted by teleskiving at 4:29 AM on April 20, 2007


I like what he's done personally, but I'm much more impressed with the effect he's had on street art around the country.

I mean, just in Nottingham, I'd much rather have the giant Stop Wars than Big Gay Following or You Or Jesus.

Although, for several years, around the local shops, there was one person who would regularly write "Mrs Peel we're needed" on walls, bus shelters, signs, everywhere.

Mr. Steed, wherever you are, please come back to Netherfield!
posted by Katemonkey at 4:35 AM on April 20, 2007 [1 favorite]


Was the electricity substation owned by TfL or some other public organisation? If not they could soon find themselves getting taken to court for damage to private property.

I know if I had a street facing wall with a Banksy mural on it i'd be pretty pissed if the council painted over it for me.
posted by public at 4:49 AM on April 20, 2007


Painting over it was just as much an act of art as was the original graffiti, in that it adds to the whole performance/story of the piece. Just like that guy who tied string all over an art gallery, only for someone to turn up with a pair of scissors - scissors-man was as much a part of the art as the string 'artist'.

Unless Banksy wasn't going for performance-y art, just normal painting-on-a-canvas art, in which case I would suggest not doing it on other people's buildings.
posted by reklaw at 4:55 AM on April 20, 2007 [1 favorite]


If not they could soon find themselves getting taken to court for damage to private property.

Yep. And if there's one thing Banksy can't stand, it's people doing things with paint on property that isn't theirs and that they have absolutely no right to touch! That kind of thing makes Banksy mad.
posted by game warden to the events rhino at 4:56 AM on April 20, 2007


Banksy For Dictator.
posted by rhizome23 at 4:57 AM on April 20, 2007


I was doing a major, major series of works on the sides of other people's BMWs, but the philistines got upset.
posted by jfuller at 5:02 AM on April 20, 2007


You wouldn't paint over a Van Gogh and nor should you paint over a Banksy

*choke*


Van Gogh painted over Van Gogh's. That bastard!

Maybe you should look harder - I don't know where you live, but it's certainly not that way in quite a few cities in the country. Taking a look around some Flickr pools might help you change your mind.

saturnine, I am a contributor to those flickr pools. There is some good graffiti in England but it's rarer than anywhere else I have been. Most of what I see isn't very good and I know the response will inevitably be "There is a lot of crap everywhere". To which I'll say - the proportions are different. It's not that I think the good artists are worse than elsewhere. It is more that I think the average artists are worse than elsewhere.
posted by srboisvert at 5:06 AM on April 20, 2007 [2 favorites]


Banksy's efforts are not as interesting as much other art, but I'd rather look at a Banksy than look at common tagging. Or at a car. Or at the asphalt reserved for a car. Or at a loud face stuck to a mobile phone. There are a million ways worse than Banksy's to mess up a public space.

I was doing a major, major series of works on the sides of other people's BMWs...

I wish someone would. Ideally, taggers and BMW drivers would get into a war and annihilate one another.
posted by pracowity at 5:24 AM on April 20, 2007 [3 favorites]


If we let people, talented or otherwise, paint where they want it will be anarchy I say!

So yeah, tell him to buy a canvas or billboard space just like all the others out there who want to display something.
posted by gfrobe at 5:27 AM on April 20, 2007


Generally people put a few lines on the front page (not a few paragraphs)

I'd echo knave here, and suggest that in the future you not use this much front page space, chuckdarwin: it's not exactly fair to other posters who get their FPPs knocked off the front page a little sooner than they rightfully should.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 5:29 AM on April 20, 2007 [1 favorite]


So he's selling his work now, eh? How's he different then any hack artist pulling stunts to inflate the value of his work?

Kind of takes the edge off. I liked his stuff, but the coolness of what he does really does depend on the motivation.
posted by delmoi at 5:29 AM on April 20, 2007


I'm curious about what all the people hatin' on Banksy think about Moose, and others who are doing 'reverse graffiti.'

Is your problem really with the property damage, or do you just wish there was less creative expression in public?
posted by bashos_frog at 5:36 AM on April 20, 2007 [7 favorites]


If you have ever used the subway in Amsterdam you would see how they dealt with graffiti. They simply made it into art. There are some very talented artists painting graffiti around the world
posted by scissorhand2 at 5:43 AM on April 20, 2007 [1 favorite]


Is your problem really with the property damage, or do you just wish there was less creative expression in public?

I will confess that the street-art debate riles me to an unusual degree. The annoying thing about street art in general is the way in which its proponents believe they're enriching the visual environment on behalf of the masses, when in fact there's something so bullying and anti-communal about making the unilateral decision to inflict your art on that environment - usually on property that is communally owned by the public, and it's the masses, not The Man, who end up paying for the clean-up. Banksy specifically is 10 times more annoying because his works, and his statements about it, so clearly demonstrate that he believes he has an important message to convey, yet I've never seen a Banksy work that rises above the adolescent level in its "meaning".

I didn't know about Moose. I kind of like him.
posted by game warden to the events rhino at 5:54 AM on April 20, 2007 [1 favorite]


To knave and flapjax at midnite - I'll bear this in mind. Perhaps the mod here will put a cut in?
posted by chuckdarwin at 6:03 AM on April 20, 2007


What gfrobe and delmoi said.

And not a bad first post, chuckdarwin, aside from some minor formatting issues.
posted by CitrusFreak12 at 6:08 AM on April 20, 2007


Hey bashos_frog! Thanks for those links; that's genius.

'when is cleaning sidewalks a crime? when you're doing it to create art...'
posted by chuckdarwin at 6:09 AM on April 20, 2007


Is your problem really with the property damage, or do you just wish there was less creative expression in public?

Most graffiti artists (judging by what you see around town, almost all of them) are not artists at all, they are just kids who happen to have access to paint and markers and free time: no one has been happy to find their stuff on a wall since mum put their house-with-smoking-chimney masterpiece up on the fridge. The damage they do is aesthetic, not (or not necessarily) monetary, and it doesn't matter whether the method is 'reverse graffiti' or not, though of course it's easier to remove a dirt-based cleaning scrawl. A blank wall (freshly cleaned or uniformly grimy) is far more beautiful than most graffiti and other forms of advertisement.
posted by pracowity at 6:11 AM on April 20, 2007


CitrusFreak12 - Thanks, kindly... I'm a long-time reader and fan of MeFi in general. I've done a lot of posting elsewhere over the years... and I'm glad I decided to join. Sorry I put too many [br] tags in!
posted by chuckdarwin at 6:12 AM on April 20, 2007


A blank wall (freshly cleaned or uniformly grimy) is far more beautiful than most graffiti and other forms of advertisement.

I don't know... dirty walls, tunnels and signs are pretty ugly. You're reminded that all that pollution is also currently in your lungs...
posted by chuckdarwin at 6:15 AM on April 20, 2007


Hey, mod-type person! Thanks for cleaning up my HTML!
posted by chuckdarwin at 6:20 AM on April 20, 2007


I saw some kids vandalising the beach the other day. Building castles and shit. Who do they think they are temporarily ruining our beach?

I don't hate him, but find Banksy a bit wanksy. I do like the idea of reverse graffiti.
posted by Elmore at 6:21 AM on April 20, 2007


I do like the idea of reverse graffiti.

Me, too! What I like about the most is that it's patently legal. I mean, they're just selectively cleaning the walls. If the authorities kept the walls clean, they'd have no canvas.
posted by chuckdarwin at 6:30 AM on April 20, 2007


I like Banksy, I find his images very appealing visually. And a lot of them are witty, though not all. But look at these ones he did in Israel on the massive wall they've built. I think they're fantastic.
posted by mokey at 6:36 AM on April 20, 2007


mokey - I also like this link. [cheers to insalubrious]
posted by chuckdarwin at 6:47 AM on April 20, 2007


I had never heard of Banksky nor seen this work or the West Bank work linked above. Thanks very much for posting this.
posted by cavalier at 7:03 AM on April 20, 2007


Sorry to see the kool kids have moved on. I'm still liking Banksy.

It all just reads like "oh, I preferred their first album" to me.
posted by imperium at 7:04 AM on April 20, 2007


imperium - You're channeling Scroobius Pip -

Thall shalt not stop liking a band just because they’ve become popular
posted by chuckdarwin at 7:09 AM on April 20, 2007


cavalier - You're welcome. I'm just glad that my first post didn't devolve into a flame war.
posted by chuckdarwin at 7:10 AM on April 20, 2007


Oh that's such crap. I actually saw that Pulp Fiction mural when I was in London a couple months ago, not knowing anything about it whatsoever, and I thought "Ha! That's cool. Wonder what it's about?" So I can state positively that it enriched my visual environment.

I just mentioned this story to my wife, and she connected it with Children of Men, where street cleaners in full riot gear are constantly whitewashing graffitti in the background.
posted by rusty at 7:18 AM on April 20, 2007


"So I can state positively that it enriched my visual environment."

Good for you - presumably the point that GWTTER was making above is that there's no choice about the matter, Banksy removed your choice of seeing it or not.
posted by patricio at 7:24 AM on April 20, 2007


Banksy removed your choice of seeing it or not.

Advertisers do that to me all the time.
posted by chuckdarwin at 7:42 AM on April 20, 2007 [2 favorites]


looking at the picture of the pre-whitewashed mural, I'm surprised to see the amount of graffiti on the buildings and I can only imagine that the entire city is now painted white to cover all the tags as well?
posted by jeffmik at 7:49 AM on April 20, 2007


I'm confused. I'm sure that the Pulp Fiction mural was painted over ages ago. I was in Old Street a month or two ago and it wasnt visible and i'm sure it was gone some time before that. unless i've become some sort of future-telling visionary...
posted by criticalbill at 7:50 AM on April 20, 2007


there's something so bullying and anti-communal about making the unilateral decision to inflict your art on that environment

Yeah, damn the graffiti artists' union and their closed shop!
posted by Pope Guilty at 8:02 AM on April 20, 2007


reklaw writes "Painting over it was just as much an act of art as was the original graffiti, in that it adds to the whole performance/story of the piece."

Yep. Part of the appeal of the work is its ephemeral nature.
posted by mr_roboto at 8:25 AM on April 20, 2007


I say? Great first post. :)
posted by miss lynnster at 8:26 AM on April 20, 2007


You wouldn't paint over a Van Gogh

Of course I would. He's not relevant to what's going on, silly.
posted by QuietDesperation at 8:29 AM on April 20, 2007


well i don't know what the media is so excited about - i live near this mural and it was first painted over after the 7/7 bombings in 2005 when someone wrote 'Fuck al Qaida" on it.
there have been at least three other things up there since then - from memory including stuff by Shephard Fairey and Faile.
so it hasn't been a "valuable" banksy for some time. but good old independent, only 18 months late.
posted by trulyscrumptious at 8:31 AM on April 20, 2007 [1 favorite]


I'm curious about what all the people hatin' on Banksy think about Moose, and others who are doing 'reverse graffiti.'

Great link, bashos_frog, I hadn't heard of this. The difference of course is that if a property owner doesn't like the "mural" Bansky has placed on his building, he must buy paint and hire painters--and thereby transform his property. If he wants to remove Moose's work, he only needs soap and water--and the property hasn't changed except for being cleaner.
posted by Terminal Verbosity at 8:35 AM on April 20, 2007


Banksy isn't a graffiti artist, he's a mildly illegal muralist.
posted by interrobang at 8:45 AM on April 20, 2007 [1 favorite]


This is a good one from the same site:

http://flickr.com/photos/mykreeve/317004796/in/set-72157594276485038/
posted by xammerboy at 8:47 AM on April 20, 2007


Love Banksy's work, this is my fave of his.
posted by nickyskye at 8:50 AM on April 20, 2007 [1 favorite]


It's time for the world to give Banksy the spanking he never got.
posted by roll truck roll at 9:01 AM on April 20, 2007


I just mentioned this story to my wife, and she connected it with Children of Men, where street cleaners in full riot gear are constantly whitewashing graffitti in the background.

You may have known this already, but there are a few of banksy's pieces in that movie.
posted by oneirodynia at 9:07 AM on April 20, 2007


Cheers, nickyskye!

I like this piece.
posted by chuckdarwin at 9:09 AM on April 20, 2007


I like Banksy's work. I don't find it "dazzlingly clever" but I guess I'm only a semi-idiot.

I happen to find it merely clever. And that puts it head and shoulders above 99.5% of both "graffiti art" that's extolled by the critics and advertisements which are almost uniformly banal and uninspired.

But neither do I take issue with LU painting it over. I mean, it's not like Banksy owned or rented that wall, and as someone upthread mentioned, the ephemeral nature of it is part of the point.
posted by chimaera at 9:17 AM on April 20, 2007 [1 favorite]


bashos_frog (always loved your name), that reverse graffiti is really cool, thanks.
posted by nickyskye at 9:19 AM on April 20, 2007


.
posted by cowbellemoo at 9:46 AM on April 20, 2007


Banksy is a PR wizard. Controversy fuels his notoriety/whatever. Express your opinions whatever they may be, the more the better... and Banksy continues to gain notice. He succeeds even when his work is removed.
posted by bhouston at 10:00 AM on April 20, 2007


The Subconscious Art of Graffiti Removal
posted by headless at 10:48 AM on April 20, 2007 [1 favorite]


A blank wall (freshly cleaned or uniformly grimy) is far more beautiful than most graffiti and other forms of advertisement.

Of course, just ask Bartleby.
posted by JHarris at 11:22 AM on April 20, 2007


headless - that was bizarre
posted by chuckdarwin at 12:01 PM on April 20, 2007


Is your problem really with the property damage, or do you just wish there was less creative expression in public?

Bit of a strawman, as I don't think anyone would say "I wish there was less creative expression in public."

For me (and I don't hate Bansky et al, by the way, on the contrary) it's twofold:

1. If it's on MY personal property, I take offense because I paid for the privilege of that property, and so I have first right to do something artistic with it (or not.) I'd have the same issue if you lovingly painted my house a nice color without asking, if I didn't like the color you'd chosen.

2. If it's on public property, I'm torn. When it's done well (Bansky falls into this category as far as I'm concerned) I love it, and when it's crappy permanent marker illegible signature-style work, I find it unpleasant to look at and don't like my local government needing to spend money to clean it up.

When a piece of public art is displayed with appropriate permits et al, it's likely gone through a review process (or at least a screening of the artist) and so is likely (not guaranteed) to be a well-executed piece of art. Without that screening, the art may be delightful and awesome (and the kind of thing that still couldn't make it past the screening) -- so hooray -- but more likely will be the kind of garbage that comes out of a person who is more interested in vandalizing than they are in art, or who thinks they're a talented artist but is dead wrong.

And if you make it legal to put art on public buildings, what justification do you have to take it down if the art sucks balls, and who makes that judgement call?

So I'm firmly on the side of "keep it illegal, but give artists lots of opportunities to legally create public art, and if nobody's complaining about the appearance of illegal public art, let it be until it becomes an eyesore."
posted by davejay at 2:37 PM on April 20, 2007


davejay writes "strawman"

Actually, the correct term for that particular logical fallacy is "false dilemma". And this one is a classic example.
posted by mr_roboto at 2:40 PM on April 20, 2007


i've seen this once or twice and it made me smile. blank walls don't create any kind of response in me.

but it got five years of exposure, so why not whitewash it and put a new idea up there? it's just a picture on a wall. I'm sure he and we are capable of more than one good idea per half decade.
posted by 6am at 8:20 PM on April 20, 2007


Meanwhile in Australia - "Pratt by name".
posted by tellurian at 10:23 PM on April 22, 2007


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