Banksy and the tradition of destroying art answer key

  • Street Art and the Splasher
  • Banksy In The News
  • This, just 3 days after a rally to protect the beloved international landmark from demolition, and mass outrage at the plan to build a condominium complex on site. A year later, all that was left in the wake of its destruction was flattened rubble, construction scaffolds, and cranes. And, a deep socio-cultural scar on residents of the city and the international graffiti community. Graffiti is arguably the most relevant art form of our time, yet it is attacked, destroyed, and routinely commodifed in the service of gentrification.

    For over 20 years, 5Pointz was a most powerful force of positive change in New York City, particularly for its youth. I was 15 when I first visited 5Pointz, then known as the Phun Phactory.

    I was a fledgling graffiti writer, only rarely mustering the courage to get up outside of my blackbook. But I was deeply infatuated with the form and determined to get better. The more I painted, the more I met other writers. My foray into graffiti was the first time I truly felt part of a community.

    Graffiti gave us a stake in our city and connected us to the world at the same time. The massive structures covered in hundreds of shades and layers of paint were a revelation. The fact that nobodies like us could paint next to legends was exciting and terrifying , and motivated us to paint harder. It was thrilling to see your own piece from the 7 train, knowing that thousands of other people were seeing it too.

    Yet, the medium itself and those who practice it are routinely criminalized. Graffiti is arguably the most relevant art form of our time. Yet, it is attacked and destroyed where it is most accessible and where it is most at home.

    At the same time, it is routinely commodifed in the service of gentrification. In New York City, its birthplace, graffiti has been under constant attack since the late s. It sends a message to writers in general, and the young people and communities of color where graffiti originated—that their creative expression is not wanted, is of no value, and is therefore expendable. Long Island City is one of the most rapidly gentrifying neighborhoods in New York City due to its proximity to Manhattan.

    But it is artists, like those that popularized 5Pointz, who, in part, brought the neighborhood attention and raised its value. Once they had served their purpose, they were disposed of in favor of condos for the rich. They, in turn, attract rich property developers, who, when they take over, will permit graffiti within certain parameters that serve their interests. Like Jerry Wolkoff, who has promised to maintain significant wall space in his new development—built over 5Pointz—for graffiti writers.

    How much space, exactly? Who will be allowed to paint? What will be the criteria? These are all questions that fall on deaf ears, as we are reminded that we are lucky to be getting any space at all. Fuck that. There is no shortage of evidence that spaces like 5Pointz are invaluable safe spaces for the young people of New York City. They provide access to the arts and culture as alternatives to high-risk behaviors and delinquency.

    They expose our youth to the world and all the possibilities that exist within it. Yet, they are directly, or indirectly, under attack. What can we as artists, appreciators, New Yorkers, and global citizens do to fill the abysses left by the destruction of OUR venues for creative expression?

    About the Writer: Patrick M Lydon Patrick is an ecological artist, filmmaker, and director of City as Nature , an art and media lab working internationally to inspire empathic relationships between people and the living world around us.

    The major difference? This points to something most of us reading this already know well: lack of opportunity—or even perceived lack of opportunity—is a cause not only of graffiti, but of violence and crime and economic inequality.

    The solution, plainly put, is that our cities need more opportunities for young persons to contribute their creative hands and minds to their communities in ways that are socially productive.

    City administrators tell us this is easier in theory than in practice, yet it becomes easier in practice if we let much of that theory come from the mouths of those who are primarily affected. We asked a group of her students to use photography and written word to address issues that were impacting their lives. The works they handed in tackled surprisingly deep issues, from drugs to discrimination to sexual orientation.

    Out of fifteen students, five wrote about graffiti. How often does law enforcement take this view? Perhaps not often enough. A plain city. A hurt city. Two year-olds see a hurt city, and they see graffiti as the color and expression, if not necessarily to show that hurt, then to provide an alternative to it. They also see, in themselves and their friends, an untapped talent; a talent with no logical outlet in their world other than on freeway overpasses and walls.

    Colorful bandages applied to a hurt city. The positive examples show governments using honesty and compassion, involving disenfranchised youth in the direction of cities and neighborhoods instead of locking them behind bars ; they show neighborhoods not just coming alive with color, but disenfranchised youth coming alive to believe in themselves, to discover and use their unique skills and passions to make their corner of the world better, regardless of whether they go on to be professional artists, business leaders, local politicians, or homeless recyclable collectors.

    The positive examples bring notions of community and economy closer together, instead of continuing a dangerous global trend of pushing the two farther apart. In doing so, they create viable opportunities for individuals to build and join a community-focused economy.

    About the Writer:.

    In no particular order, I would like to thank: Lisa Dietrich and Krin Gabbard for their extremely valuable comments on early portions of this work; Kirsten Iverson, Joseph Miller, James Pearson, and Andrew Wasserman for numerous conversations that helped to illuminate various portions of my argument and provided a great deal of levity to what otherwise might have been an impossible task; Jake Dobkin for allowing me to use his photographs in this work; and last, but certainly not least, John Lutterbie and Zabet Patterson for their invaluable advice, support, and encouragement throughout the writing and editing process.

    While galleries hold exhibitions of his traditional art works, street art admirers flock to gallery openings and hold scavenger hunts to find new illegal street works. Shepard Fairey, the author of the OBEY Giant campaign and one of the more prolific and popular street artists, operates a successful graphic design studio Studio Number One , fine art printing and gallery services company Subliminal Projects , and clothing line OBEY Clothing , and recently designed campaign posters for Barack Obama.

    Swoon, another extremely popular street artist and the driving force behind several community action groups in Brooklyn and Lower Manhattan, sold six works to The Museum of Modern Art MOMA in for an undisclosed amount.

    In response to the economic and cultural successes of Shepard Fairey, Swoon, Banksy, and other street artists, the Splasher group undertook a series of actions in and that were designed to disrupt street art market and draw attention to the complexities and contradictions between illegal, unsanctioned street art and the legal and sanctioned activities that take place in museums, galleries, and graphic design studios. However, media attention brought little or no sustained discussion of street art, its potential as a resistant force, or its place in contemporary art and advertising worlds.

    In July , after several close encounters with police officers and angry hipsters, the Splashers distributed a manifesto that described their activities, explained their motives, and announced the end of their project. The movement from illegality to economic and cultural marketability entails the partial removal of resistant potentials from cultural practices and other social activities.

    Capitalism, especially in its advanced, global form has a pervasive influence on cultural forms and tends to recuperate resistant and subcultural actions in order to advance and broaden potential profits. Despite the success of many street artists, street art remains vandalism and a public nuisance; it is illegal and, in many cases, unsanctioned.

    This tendency toward illegality leads many admirers to view street art as a form of resistance to economic, cultural, and political hegemonies and see no contradiction between illegal street art and success in the art and advertising worlds. Street artists also see little, if any, inconsistency between their commercial and street works, and tend to claim that their legal and sanctioned activities support their illegal and unsanctioned works.

    According to this logic, corporations, museums, and other institutions and groups are unwitting partners in the creation and display of works that resist commercialization and commodification. While this is true to an extent, the logic works both ways: illegal street works also add a measure of credibility to the corporations and other entities that employ street artists. While all forms of graffiti are theoretically illegal, many are completely sanctioned, by custom, by tradition, and even by states and municipal groups: few school children receive jail time for carving in trees, and carving or writing ones name at places of interest is a common occurrence that is rarely worthy of prosecution.

    Graf, however, receives a great deal of attention from police departments and municipal groups throughout the world for two important reasons. According to Norman Mailer, whose The Faith of Graffiti is the first serious account of the graf subculture, Slum populations chilled on one side by the bleakness of modern design, and brain-cooked on the other by comic strips and TV ads with zooming letters, even brain-cooked by politicians whose ego is a virtue.

    Mobil; Mr. Amoco; Mr. They can put their name on any sign, any place. The Situationists employed graf to announce plans, rally support, and provide inspiration to the students, workers and others who participated in the wildcat general strike of May By the mids, graf-inspired graphic design dominated the advertising industry and traditional art works that employed graf techniques covered gallery walls throughout Western world. Fashion designers co-opted graffiti styles and colors to create colorful clothes for the burgeoning hip hop and punk cultures.

    Advertisers employed graffiti forms and techniques in campaigns for soda, blue jeans, tennis shoes, and, interestingly, anti-graffiti programs. By the mids, Keith Haring, Jenny Holzer, and Jean-Michel Basquiat, who began their art careers on the streets of lower Manhattan, had gallery representation on both sides of the Atlantic and enjoyed lucrative careers in the arts.

    Today, real estate developers feature street art in marketing campaigns for new condominium and loft developments, and cities and neighborhood associations actively protect and promote works by prominent street artists. Given the extreme popularity of street art among advertisers, cultural institutions, art collectors, and auction houses, as well as the continued support for street artists from community action organizations, anarchists, and resistant groups, the commodification of graf through street art seems largely complete.

    This is the power of advanced capitalism: while auction houses, galleries, and corporations capitalize on the popularity of street art, illegal works continue to spread, though they function more as advertising for legal works than resistance to the museum and gallery system, and resistant groups, who may otherwise avoid mass marketing, purchase clothes, posters, and other mass-produced street art-related objects due to the misguided view of street art as pure resistance.

    The state of street art in the twenty-first century suggests a complex relationship between hegemonic forces and resistant groups. At one and the same time, street art resists the exclusivity of the market-driven gallery and museum system while also participating in that system.

    Fortunately, all these artists continue to illegally display works on abandoned buildings and rooftops, and in alleys and other out-of-the-way locations. However, and though photographs of works by established and fledgling street artists can be found on a number of easily-accessible websites, many street art admirers will never have the opportunity to see the works firsthand.

    While illegal street art serves to counter the economically exclusive art world and allow access to works that would otherwise be ensconced in museums, galleries, and private collections, it also excludes vast numbers of people who may not have the ability to view street art in its natural environment.

    Though street artists work to counter this exclusivity—established street artists travel to urban centers throughout the world where they create illegal works for the local population and Swoon works with community action and anarchist groups throughout the United States to bring street art and avant-garde performance works to rural populations 16 —original works, whether traditional or street, can only ever reach a highly limited and exclusive percentage of the worldwide population.

    In what follows, I examine the current state of street art and its participation in the art market. The first task will be to define street art as both an object and an activity. In general, street art occupies a liminal position between the illegal graf and the art and advertising worlds.

    However, the complexities surrounding various contradictory and competing definitions of street art need to be unpacked. A brief discussion of the theories that underpin this study follow and provide an understanding of the role of capitalism in the production and reception of street art. In one sense, street art can be defined in relation to the people—street artists—that produce it: street artists create appealing objects in an attempt to gain recognition from other street artists, passersby, and the art, advertising, and design worlds.

    In another sense, street art may be defined by the materials employed to create the works. While there is some overlap in the materials and techniques employed by street artists and graf writers—spraypaint and markers, for example—street artists tend to experiment with other techniques, new technological advancements, and novel materials. Banksy places sculpture on the street in addition to the more usual and expected spraypaint and stencil works, and Swoon employs ancient and contemporary intaglio print processes.

    Luis Bou provides an excellent definition of street art that reunites the producers street artists with their products street art. Like any evolution, street art or post-graffiti has clearly brought with it new techniques and styles, and the artists use, in addition to the sprays and permanent felt-tip markers, other forms and materials to create their works: stencils, stickers, posters, acrylics applied with paintbrushes, airbrushes, chalk, charcoal, photograph-based collages, photocopies, mosaics, and on and on.

    It also places the artists in a relationship with their craft and points to motives that drive the production of street art. Crash and Daze were accomplished graf writers who found their way into the art world, as many writers did in the s, and it makes sense that their works on canvas would reflect their graf careers.

    The artists at issue here—Shepard Fairey, Swoon, and Banksy—are among the most prominent, popular, and prolific street artists to emerge since the mids and tend to produce works that differ greatly from traditional forms of graf.

    As noted above, where graf writers tend to concern themselves with a signature and the act of writing, street artists tend to focus on the reception of their objects. Where graf writers learn their craft through interaction with other graf writers and participation in graf writing, most street artists begin as art students who employ street art to gauge public opinion of their works and make a name for themselves after graduation.

    The differences in age and background between graf writers and street artists, as well as the differences in form and content of their works, suggest that the two groups and their works are entirely different, despite some similarities in the materials and techniques employed by the two.

    Before turning to an examination of street artists, though, it is necessary to explore some theories that help locate street art as both a resistant tradition and a willing participant in advanced capitalism. In particular, the Situationists provide models for the Splasher group, and help explain the simultaneously resistant and assimilated nature of street art.

    Additionally, situationist practices suggest possibilities for resistance to advanced capitalism that apply to the activities of graf writers and, to an extent, street artists, despite the participation of the latter in the development and exchange of capital.

    Similarly, street art integrates past and present graffiti techniques scratching, carving, writing with technological advancements to form complex works of textual and imagistic art that challenge local hegemonies. Where graf writers experimented with new forms of self-promotion in an attempt to counter the reigning economic and cultural hegemony, street artists experiment with artistic styles and aesthetic forms to gauge public response and find new audiences for their works.

    Where graf writers resist capitalism and consumer society by stealing supplies and vandalizing public and private property, street artists, with their drive to gain recognition from the art world, tend more toward participation in consumer society. This sort of activity was not particularly new in the arts—Picasso added pieces of newspaper and other objects to paintings in the s, and Warhol converted newspaper heaulines and photographs into silkscreened paintings in the s.

    Keep your memories but modify them and bring them up to date. Why reject the old if it can be modernized with a few strokes of the brush? Though McLaren and Reid were aware of the Situationists and their texts, they found SI literature too difficult to read and bought the publications only for the pictures and short slogans. Just when you were getting bored, there were always these wonderful pictures and they broke the whole thing up.

    They were what I bought them for: not the theory. The Paris riots and the Situationist movement of the s—it was all nonsense for arty French students. Throughout the s, Fairey created bootlegged t-shirts and stickers from stencils he made of band logos and, in , while working at a skate shop in Providence, agreed to teach a friend how to create paper cut stencils.

    The first stickers were crudely designed and, with their use of hand lettering and celebration of rough edges and simple graphics, show links to the design aesthetics of skateboarding and punk cultures. He pasted stickers everywhere he went, ran classified ads for his stickers in skateboard and punk magazines, and began mailing them to friends and admirers throughout the country. Fairey financed the sticker campaign for the first few years, but began charging five cents per sticker to offset his production and shipping costs and offering t-shirts and specialty stickers to provide some extra income.

    The Giant sticker attempts to stimulate curiosity and bring people to question both the sticker and their relationship with their surroundings. The sticker has no meaning but exists only to cause people to react, to contemplate and search for meaning in the sticker. Because Giant has a Posse has no actual meaning, the various reactions and interpretations of those who view it reflect their personality and the nature of their sensibilities.

    Removing and collecting works of street art reflects a desire to belong to or own part of a subculture, and despite the desire of street artists to remove their art from the elitist gallery and museum systems, many viewers of street art want to possess the works they find on the street. This new campaign allowed Fairey to make more coherent claims about his project, though he continued to ground his activities in phenomenology and a somewhat misguided and largely failed attempt to force viewers to question the relationships between propaganda and advertising.

    Again, instead of coming to question the images that surround them, viewers continued collecting street works and buying t-shirts, stickers, posters, and other objects.

    By the mids, Obey Giant gained the attention of a variety of corporations that specialize in mass producing objects for rebellious teenagers and hipster twenty-somethings, and Fairey began accepting commissions from skateboard manufacturers, shoe companies, and others.

    He also began producing limited edition prints and exhibiting original artworks in small galleries in New York, Los Angeles, and elsewhere. At the same time, Fairey took on other iconic figures: revolutionaries and civil rights leaders, such as Che Guevara, Bobby Seale, and Angela Davis; musicians like Johnny Rotten, the Beatles, and Tupac Shakur; politicians, including an image of George W.

    Bush as a vampire; and other public figures. The popularity of these new forms led to further graphic design commissions from music groups for album covers, promotional posters, and other materials. However, Fairey provides clear services to the corporations that commission advertisements from his firm.

    After all, in the late s and early s, he attended RISD, one of the top illustration and design schools in the United States, and ran a small screen-printing and design service that catered to various subcultures. After several years of rapid growth, from one employee himself to nearly thirty, he split the business into a fine art printing and gallery service Subliminal Projects , commercial graphic design firm Studio Number One , and clothing line Obey Clothing.

    If a multinational can put its icons on the street, maybe the street should put its icons into the shopping mall. However, if Fairey intended Obey Giant campaign to cause people to question the advertisements and other images that pervade public space, what happens to the project when it becomes just another corporate logo or advertisement? After all, Fairey brands the world with the trademark of a successful artist and graphic designer, and leaves behind works that call advertising and other images into question.

    Her complex, life-size paper cutouts and prints depict a variety of different individuals and situations that populate New York City. The images—which often depict disenfranchised immigrants, workers, and homeless people—repopulate the city, converting actual and mobile citizens into static, two-dimensional objects. On one hand, the works draw attention to the plight of the urban poor, reminding viewers of the numerous struggles and fleeting moments of joy that people experience throughout everyday life in New York.

    On the other hand, the images reify the subjects, turning the actual pain, joy, alienation, and celebration experienced by the subjects into an opportunity for an aesthetic experience, in effect anesthetizing both the subject of the works and the viewing subject. This temporal aspect of the works echoes natural life. Just as humans age and ultimately decay, the works yellow, become brittle, and begin to flake off the wall.

    The works begin as a sort of imaginary citizenry, adding a sense of community and belonging to derelict city spaces. As the works decay, viewers are reminded of the passage of time, the life cycle, the invisibility of everyday life in the metropolis. Eventually, the works disappear altogether, much like the invisible population of homeless people, service workers, and others that comprise a large portion of every major city.

    Just like the actual people from which Swoon drew her inspiration, her street works have a life cycle and function as part of the New York City environment. The piece of paper is almost like blankness, and the wall creates what you can see. The works rely both on viewers and on the support the wall for their visual impact: indeed, the works rely on the surface to create contrasts, shadows, and textures in the works. Carving into and cutting the prints displays a concern with what lies beneath and beyond the surface and reveals the fragility of human-made structures, revealing the limitations and artificiality of ownership, as well as the futility of attempts to reclaim public space from corporate and state control.

    However, Swoon also participates in the art market, creating permanent and static versions of her street works for consumption by museums and wealthy collectors.

    Street Art and the Splasher

    Image courtesy Museum of Modern Art. Today, we have created a contract that enables an artist to designate a charitable organization to receive a percentage of the resale profit of an artwork.

    Because the money goes to a charitable organization, the reseller gets a tax deduction when they make the donation, creating an incentive to follow-through. Lauren and I recognize that many artists are resistant to the idea of introducing a contract during the process of a sale. We are betting that because of the tax deduction, the buyer will immediately understand they stand to benefit in the future if they decide to resell the artworkand that this will make it easier—and that tax-deductions are common enough in the arts to be non-threatening, even familiar.

    Banksy In The News

    Amy Sherald in her studio, While I know many artists share the progressive social values of Cady Noland, and would happily see some ancillary benefit to the world produced by their artwork, this contract also suggests a less obvious possibility: artists can direct the resale percentage to a non-profit they start and run themselves. This is what I had in mind when I suggested the idea to Amy Sherald. She was considering starting a non-profit education program, and I thought that the resale of her artworks might provide a source of funding, eventually.

    Consider the millions that the Robert Rauschenberg, Andy Warhol, and Joan Mitchell foundations to name just a few have given to artists and arts organizations over the years. In this way, artists can both benefit themselves and the artist community. To see them, you have to peer into a world ten or so years into the future.


    But these unprecedented times can serve as exceptional ruptures in the status quo. Last year both artists broke records with their sales. This is the same European collector who paired with Phillips last year to bring Taipei the Banksy exhibition, Banksy: The Authentic Rebel, with four works from the show on sale in this exhibition. Because of the higher price tags the show is not expected to sell-out, but the popularity and demand of these artists never ceases to surprise.

    But the ones Banksy created will remain as works of art. The Christmas period was a busy one for Banksy. First we saw his mural God bless Birmingham highlighting homelessness in Birmingham. The grey wall is the boarder wall that divides Israel and Palestine — the wall the Walled-off Hotel overlooks. Banksy has his own contribution to Christmas. In he made a secret visit to Palestine to paint a girl holding balloons, being lifted above the dividing wall. Ten years later, inBanksy made a secret visit to the Gaza Strip to create five murals on the bombed-out rubble, including a kitten playing with a ball of rusty wire and the Greek tragic heroine, Niobe, crying over the ruins.

    This was the first time the public had been able to view the art work since the 4. The potential industry for the town seemed exponential. We had the global spotlight on us. This is a modern masterpiece and Banksy chose us to be part of the narrative.

    The mural was bought for a six-figure sum by art dealer John Brandler under the condition it would remain in the town for a minimum of three years to enable to the area to shine, and to attract visitors from near and far to the town. The area is notoriously short of resources, which is reflected by the limited opening hours to visit the piece due to security costs, and the gallery space not having been painted.

    Nobody stops you if you have them. And I would be the film producer, armed with a burner phone.

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