A successful Banksy (oh and Banksy updated his website)

At Vandalog, we try not to post every single Banksy piece that pops up. The reason for that is that not every Banksy piece is a work of genius or a complete flop. Some are just forgettable. Unfortunately, because Banksy is Banksy, his forgettable works get blown out of proportion and become tourist attractions. With one of his new pieces though, Banksy has used his fame and the addition of a small stencil to change something worth noticing but generally forgettable into something noticeable and memorable. The above photo is of Banksy’s latest work in Liverpool (and there was a similar piece in London, but it’s now buffed). Painting a heart with a fire extinguisher is something that anybody can do if they have the right materials, and it’s something that people might appreciate, if they notice it. But that heart alone could go unnoticed or a more callous person might view it as petty vandalism and quickly have it painted over (as the London piece was). With the addition of that airplane stencil and the claim that it was made by a famous artist, the heart becomes a landmark. In all likelihood, the work won’t be buffed and it will become a tourist attraction just like so many other Banksy’s pieces. And yes, it’s still pretty silly that people might drive for hours just to see this in the flesh, but the other consequence of the wall staying up is that now a simple positive message will be on that wall rather than nothing but a lot of greyness. Sometimes the Banksy pieces that get protected are little more than twice-told jokes, but this wall is actually sending out a positive message to thousands of people every day, so that seems worth protecting to me. Is it the greatest piece of street art ever? Hell no. Primarily, it’s just glorifying the sort of heartfelt and fun but poorly executed drunken amateur vandalism that bored teenagers get up to. But I do appreciate that Banksy has used his fame put up a positive, simple and imitable piece that would have probably been buffed if it were by any other artist or did not have the addition of a stencil at the end to turn it from “vandalism” into “street art.” For all the crap that street art gets, and often deserves, sometimes the public bias in favor of it can lead to good things. Or maybe Banksy is just being lazy and he couldn’t think of anything particularly complex to do.

PS, after I wrote this whole thing but before it was posted, Banksy updated his website. So I’m gonna contradict a bit of what I’ve just written and point out this update. There’s some new stuff including some outdoor pieces that are boring and some that are actually pretty good, plus an FAQ section.

Photos by nolionsinengland