Banksy finished Better Out Than In today with the above piece in Queens. The balloons didn’t last long when people tried to steal them and then the NYPD came to take the balloons and arrest the would-be thieves (more on that on Hyperallergic). And Jerry Saltz be damned, this is one of my favorite pieces of the show. Jerry Saltz may say he has no problem with graffiti, but I’m not sure he quite understands it either.
The location of this piece is perfect, with a NEKST tag (and remember what Banksy did on his website when NEKST died), an ADEK tag, two ADEK throwups and two LEWY throwups all visible in the above photo, which is the lead image for the piece on the Better Out Than In website. And of course, Banksy went higher up on the wall than all of those writers, but in a cheeky manner. I’m not saying that Banksy is still a hardcore train bomber, although he did pull of quite a few stunts this month, but he certainly has respect for traditional graffiti. Banksy could have installed those balloons anywhere, but he chose that particular spot and was able to highlight serious graffiti by some of the best writers in the city.
The audio description for this piece includes a serious note:
Banksy asserts that outside is where art should live, amongst us. And rather than street art being a fad, maybe it’s the last thousand years of art history is a blip, when art came inside in service of the church and institutions. But art’s rightful place is on the cave walls of our communities where it can act as a public service, provoke debate, voice concerns, forge identities. The world we live in today is run – visually at least – by traffic signs, billboards and planning committees. Is that it? Don’t we want to live in a world made of art, not just decorated by it?
I can’t think of a better way to close out the show.