Marc Schiller from Wooster Collective said something interesting on Twitter the other day. He said, “Fascinating how each city on Banksy’s road trip (LA, Chicago, Detroit, Toronto, NYC, San Fran) reacted completely differently to the art.” He then clarified by tweeting “LA: Indifference San Fran: Appreciation Chicago: Unaware Detroit: Biz Opportunity Toronto: Validation Boston: Confusion NY: Jealousy”
What did he mean by “Biz Opportunity” in Detroit? Well at least two of the pieces that Banksy painted in Detroit were removed by people from the spots where they were painted.
Here’s what happened to Diamond Girl according to The Process Theory:
this is truth, I’ve been holding out on posting this, but i think its time. Famed Banksy artist took aim at Detroit, and like many people who knew it would be short lived, a cohort and i began removing the piece. In the wee hours of the morning. We worked diligently till about six am. Carving out the bricks ever so carefully. I promise, you have never seen a sledge hammer flow ever so softly into brick. as if the girl herself was trapped. When staring a modern legend, and if not the greatest street artist of the last 15 years. a chance to feel, touch, see, and own a legend. for money? for preservation? who knows. some gallery would have beat us to it. i know they would, the other piece was already being removed by some gallery who we know is going to make the quick buck. This was a guerrilla movement. an attempt in the night. much in an adverse way of Banksy hitting the wall himself. My accomplice hands bloodied and blistered. let it be known, to who ever took that piece… you didn’t deserve it. you didn’t work for it. but it should be documented. We are not an entity, we are not a gallery. We were two fans, trying to do the right thing before the hounds of a desolate city, hurting for money. Take what you will, i know we will catch a lot of heat for it. Rebels? Saviors? assholes? Dedicated fans? it depends on how you view it….
And you can see pictures of that piece on The Process Theory’s website. For now though, nobody really knows what’s happened to Diamond Girl.
On the other hand, the case of where I Remember (photo above) has gone is very public. On May 11th, Detroitfunk reported that the artwork had been removed by 555 Nonprofit Gallery and Studios. As expected when a Banksy is removed or defaced, there was a strong reaction from the public. Some people thought that 555 Arts were preserving the artwork, others that 555 Arts had essentially “stolen” Banksy’s art from the public trust, potentially in order to tell it for a massive profit. With no word from 555 Arts about the situation, the public was left waiting to hear what would happen. Finally, on May 15th, the Detroit Free Press picked up the story and fill in the missing details. It turns out that the folks from 555 Arts intend to not sell the work and to keep it on public display.
While I’m not sure that 555 Arts did the right thing by removing that wall, I think that in the long run future generations are going to be glad they did it. I’m not saying that every Banksy should be removed or protected, and I’m sure that most of the time these pieces are removed and protected purely so that the owners can profit from the artwork, but in the long run, it might be worth preserving a few of these outdoor pieces by Banksy.
Photo by bealebo