Vandalizing with Aerosoul: Banksy, the Mystery Man

“I mean, they say you die twice. One time when you stop breathing and a second time, a bit later on, when somebody says your name for the last time.”

 Or how about, “The greatest crimes in the world are not committed by people breaking the rules but by people following the rules. It’s people who follow orders that drop bombs and massacre villages.”

This is pretty profound stuff, right? Which of the great philosophers penned such thought-provoking phrases? Well, it wasn’t Rousseau or Sartre: it was actually Banksy.

His work is on the philosophical side, but Banksy’s main occupation is covering cities’ walls with excellent and politically or socially motivated graffiti. Ultimately, the greatest thing about this talented vandal is the fact that his identity is a mystery.

A commissioned piece, this enormous mural appeared in Manhattan's SoHo neighborhood in 2008. Banksy has returned to the Big Apple, in order to spend a month bringing his street art across the Pond.

A commissioned piece, this enormous mural appeared in Manhattan’s SoHo neighborhood in 2008. Banksy has returned to the Big Apple, in order to spend a month bringing his street art across the Pond.

Banksy is one of those rare, celebrated people that don’t care about the money or the recognition. To emphasize this stance, he is doing a project completely unmotivated by how many Franklins he can bring to the bank this month. For the entirety of October, Banksy will be in New York City, displaying a new piece of artwork everyday.  Be it moving artwork – such as a slaughterhouse truck filled with toy animals that toured the Meatpacking District – or additions to existing graffiti, such as giving a New York graffiti artist’s basic spray paint a Broadway makeover.  One of his most recent pieces, found in Queens, depicts a wall cleaner washing away the sentence, “What we do in life echoes in Eternity,” a quote from the movie Gladiator. (Banksy is nothing if not cultured.)

In the past, the London-based artist’s pieces have delivered messages relevant to socioeconomic issues. For example, a stencil of a homeless person holding a sign declaring, “Keep your coins. I want change.” Furthermore, during the Queen’s Jubilee and the 2012 Olympics, London acted as Banksy’s canvas. Amid the celebration leading up to the Queen’s 60th coronation anniversary, he stenciled a portrayal of a child sweatshop worker sewing Union Jack bunting. A graffiti piece depicting a hooded figure stealing a ring from the Olympic Games’ Rings appeared during the summer of 2012 in London. He definitely likes to make a statement.

Banksy not only produces (usually) ephemeral graffiti. He has also created books and films depicting his work. But his products are not merely self-promotional; in his creative expression, Banksy raises pertinent questions about the art world today. For example: What is art? What constitutes great art? Does our perception on artwork change if three more zeroes are added to the price tag? What truly elevates Banksy’s work is the metaphor, philosophy and reflection behind Banksy’s art. Banksy has a unique and interesting artistic perspective on the world and London’s brick walls are better for it.

Banksy’s pieces have been auctioned for millions, in the art scene his name reverberates like a god’s, and his messages and metaphors speak volumes about social, economic, and political issues plaguing today’s world.

Whoever he is, Banksy is making waves. He is a prime example of what one can do if they raise their voice – or their spray paint can.

Megan Evershed, World News Correspondent

Posted by on October 16, 2013. Filed under Arts. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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