Once again, people such as myself are the butt of Banksy‘s joke for a Better Out Than In piece (and once again I’m late posting about a piece). This may be my favorite work in the show so far. Banksy arranged for a man to sell original Banksy artworks on the street next to Central Park. The paintings weren’t labeled as Banksy pieces in any way, and were available for $60 a piece (although one woman haggled a bit and snagged 2 for $60). The obvious comparison is to Joshua Bell playing in the DC Metro, though the parallels are not exact.
This piece by Banksy is great because, like so much of Better Out Than In, it’s about the crowd that follows Banksy’s work and the system in which Banksy exists. Jeffrey Deitch recently called Banksy a conceptual artist, and I think he is spot-on. This piece, and so many others in Better Out Than In, are not the physical art objects themselves but about the relationships that people have with the objects.
Most Vandalog readers will have heard people complain, or have complained themselves, about how mediocre Banksy pieces can get covered in plexiglass and preserved while masterpieces just around the corner by any other artist can get ignored or painted over. Even work by Banksy has been accidentally painted over when not identified as his work. For 99% of street art and graffiti, the vast majority of people see it without the context of “This is a work by Artist X, whose history is Y. It is important because Z,” but fewer and fewer people see Banksy’s work in that random way, as just another artist among thousands, as just another piece of visual information on a crowded streetscape. For a brief moment this past Saturday, Banksy was just another artist, not a media sensation. Any hey, for just another artist, $420 isn’t bad for a day’s work.
Of course, now I’ve got friends and relatives emailing me asking why the hell I didn’t give them a heads up about this and asking how they can get a Banksy for $60 in order to quickly flip it and possibly make quite a few thousand dollars. But while the works at the stall were authentic, I wonder whether or not Pest Control will authenticate them. Without that authentication, even the people in the video can’t really be trusted if they attempt to sell their “authentic” artworks. Those stencils would be easily enough to fake. But who really cares if the works are real or fake, so long as you’re not paying more than $60 for them?
Speaking of street artists being unappreciated when their name isn’t Banksy, here’s our + 5. These five works that range from very big to quite tiny and are by Ludo, 616, UFO, Cane Morto edit: with Insurrectionize, Royce Bannon and Russell King: