One of my favorite new Banksy’s is this thing he did during a recent visit to New York City (is this Banksy’s version of performance art?):
The idea is clever, funny and quintessentially Banksy. Except, Banksy wasn’t the first to have the idea… In fact, Vienna’s Busk did the exact same thing last year at the BLK River Festival. You can check out photos of Busk’s version at the BLK River Festival blog, along with their take on Banksy’s version. Now, I’m not sure if Banksy “stole” this idea from Busk or if they just came to do similar pieces coincidentally (DEFINITELY possible, if not probable). This sort of thing happens all the time. With thousands and thousands of artists out there, creating something entirely original is impossible. The more interesting question is what the BLK River Festival blog asks: “Will Banksy’s portrait earn him another fortune at Sotheby’s next auction or will BUSK be inaugurated to art’s history for being the first to do so?”
For me, Banksy’s portrait is more interesting. I’m much more curious about the identity of Banksy than I am of Busk, and so are a million other people. Banksy’s portrait will be analyzed and picked apart by fans trying to discern his identity and compare it to previous supposed images. And of course, there is the question of if that is even really Banksy or if he just had one of his friends put on the balaclava and pose. Busk, while he may do some more interesting work or not (I’m honestly not too familiar with him besides this portrait and having known that he was involved in that festival), just doesn’t have that power and mystery behind his identity that Banksy does. Busk may have been first (or maybe there were other people doing this before him; surely somebody has gotten one of these portraits done while wearing a Halloween mask), and for that he deserves some credit, but The Cult of Banksy just makes this new version so much more interesting.
Then again, maybe I’m just caught up in the Banksy hype, as can happen with me from time to time. But isn’t that kind of the point of this portrait in the first place?
And let the comments calling me an idiot and a Banksy-whore begin…