Went to Banksy's "Barely Legal" art show yesterday. Among the crowd of pseudo-revolutionary/white liberal LA hipsters arriving in their Priuses, there was also art pieces taken away from their urban guerilla art context and put into an abandoned warehouse turned art gallery. Though, on Friday night, Branjelina showed up to purchase half of the canvased pieces, to reclaim their self-importance in the progressive community and feel good about themselves (it ain't just a new trend with rappers).

Apparently PETA type folks' trousers are in a bunch due to the pink elephant (it actually appeared to be more red) that everybody is aware of but does nothing about (ie: poverty). Boing Boing breaks down this outcry against the painted pachyderm. But, what about the cockroaches being forced to spend 3 days alongside doctored images of Paris Hilton? Personally, I had mixed feelings about the elephant (not so much with the use of non-toxic paint) but more so of the public exploitation of her as on object with which to gawk. I'm sure most people were totally unaware of what Banksy even meant with the elephant, as I didn't see any cards going around (the day I went) that told of its message. Would that be part of the artistic illustration that Banksy tried to carry?

The most poignant piece of the show.

After getting over the fact that I was one of the few people of color, other than most of the security guards (my theory is that the one white security guard had to have been Banksy), I began to self-debate about the legitimacy of his urban guerilla art in the confines of a sterilized gallery. I couldn't look at a piece and think of how much stronger it would be situated on a busy street, which was what made his art that much more brilliant. Although, already discussed since the days of Basquiat, maybe even longer, I wasn't a art history major, Banksy's anarchistic [1] techniques seems very opposite to what I saw at the show. Commodities being sold for hundreds of thousands of dollars, sponsorship by Ebay, and an almost artificial underground aura with the use of the warehouse, among other things. Maybe it was his way of sticking his middle finger to the uber-chique LA crowd that would pay endless amounts of money, not knowing the irony of buying a painting of an art auction with individuals bidding on a painting with the words, "I can't believe you morons actually buy this shit".

And what of the income generated from this event? I've read of Banksy being totally against advertisement and merchandising of any kind. Commodifying a statement can at times be used to help bring a political message to a larger audience, though it can also become lost in the midst of the public shock value. But who knows, though, he might just be the Abbie Hoffman of the 2000's, an anarchistic individual, so aware of his iconic status within the counter-culture that he knows he could take a shit on a video reel and someone would buy it.

Photos and photos

And for those who want video footage rather than pictures, BBC news coverage:

[1] Chomsky on Anarchism


Anonymous Clyde Smith said...

Nice post. Good looking out on the Chomsky essay!

October 02, 2006 11:33 AM  
Blogger artjunkie said...

CHECK OUT these prints by subversive British artist ALI HENDRICK!!

December 31, 2007 11:47 AM  
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