First of all, I’ll quickly note that Banksy did an interview with The Village Voice and Banksy made two covers for the issue, both collaborations with Os Gêmeos.
On Wednesday, Banksy unveiled this installation on the Lower East Side, the latest from his Better Out Than In show/series. According to Hyperallergic, the area had been covered with a tarp recently, hiding any potential work Banksy was doing. It’s not Banksy’s best work from a technical standpoint, but hey, it’s a complicated piece that was presumably executed illegally. One thing that became very clear during our Illegal August experiment (in case it wasn’t clear before) is the pretty obvious point that a mural an artist can spend a week on is usually going to look more visually stunning and well-executed than something done illegally in the dark. Even with the tarp, this installation was risky. So I certainly can’t fault Banksy for the execution.
The piece reminds me of something like Goya’s The Disasters of War series, although maybe that’s just because horses make me think of classical painting… Anyway…
What really strikes me about this piece is the “audio description” component of this installation. Instead of the funny museum-style audio descriptions that have accompanied about half the works in Better Out Than In, today’s was just a snippet of the audio from the Collateral Murder video that was leaked by Chelsea Manning through Wikileaks in 2010. The video shows US Army airstrike that kill Reuters journalist Namir Noor-Eldeen, his driver Saeed Chmagh and at least others (the airstrike also wounded two children). Here is the full Collateral Murder video (warning: this video is quite graphic and potentially disturbing):
A few days ago, I raised some questions about Banksy appropriating audio of an by Syrian rebels that brought down a Syrian military helicopter in his video where rebels shoot down Dumbo the elephant. I’m still not sure what to think of that appropriation, but I think here Banksy did a great job. He isn’t using death to make a joke (even if that joke has a serious point). This installation is a sort of anti-war memorial, and the Collateral Murder audio makes the piece even more powerful.For today’s + 5, we have work by stikman (whose show I just organized at the Mural Arts Program in Philadelphia), Jace, Saki and Bitches and two artists that I’m not sure about: