Banksy hasn’t done anything cool for years until now, because having a painting automatically shred itself to bits immediately after being sold for over a million dollars is tight as Hell
I feel like his whole career over the last decade was just a lead up to this. All the absolute saccharine wankery to get in the good graces of middle-brow bougie taste-makers was all about getting to a place where his work would be appraised high enough for this to work.
and yet the discourse tide is already rising in the direction of pointing out that this has probably only increased the value of the painting, and now every idiot will be clamouring for a genuine shredded banksy of their own.
So all he has to do to troll is never shred another painting. Sure, that’ll mean the shredded one goes up in value over time, but FUCK, FUCK I want a fucking livestream of ultra-wealthy art buyers nervously darting their eyes around the room, looking at a rat with red balloon in a frame. Is the frame fat enough for a shredder? Is there gunpowder around the edge that will ignite?
And they bid and they bid and they bid and the bidding slows down as anxiety builds. Is it worth it? Is it worth it? Is it worth it? And then the last bidder realizes they’re the last and now they have to deal with it because no one else is waving their flags anymore and the auctioneer calls it and there’s a thick, oily tension in the room as everyone waits. And waits.
And it doesn’t self-destruct. It doesn’t burn or boil or shred. It’s just a painting in a curious frame; an Andy Warhol style screenprint, mass produced.
It’s *WORTHLESS.* I mean yeah, it’s fine it’s a Banksy and well I guess that’s what we came here to buy but a destroyed Banksy is what everyone is after and it’s sitting there stubbornly undestroyed and the buyer paid too much, they took a bet and lost. And the people who stopped bidding earlier are exchanging smug smiles and raising their eyebrows and elbowing each other like they weren’t all 10K away from paying too much for a Regular Banksy and the cycle CONTINUES over and over and over – serious buyers are too touchy to bid on Banksys. People who have them in collections are satisfied but no one else wants to buy them anymore. They’re too risky, you don’t know if you’re going to get an exciting masterpiece of anticapitalism or just something that they’d screen on a shirt at the mall.
Banksy holds a charity auction. All of the paintings are framed on the wall, there are dozens of them. There are lots of conspicuous fire extinguishers in the room. There are oddly-placed garbage cans.
The bidding starts.
Not a single painting self-shreds but the buyers are frenzied. This is for *charity,* goddamnit. He’s gotta have ONE. There’s gotta be ONE in here that pulls that beautiful stunt again and piles up a mountain of gold. Otherwise why would we even *be* here? And as the paintings sell and stay intact that ugly tension forms like it’s been forming at every auction since the shredding. Soon there’s only one left. Everyone knows it won’t shred. Everyone knows it has to shred. Everyone knows how stupid it is to play this game and take the bet because they just keep fucking *losing.*
And they lose again. Each painting sells for over a million pounds. All the money goes to after school care for low income families and community gardens and adult education.
And after that the disgust is palpable. No one ever bids up a Banksy again. Soon they’re piled in stacks on a church table when Stewart Semple is hosting a Happy Cloud release. Take one if you want one.
A dude in a hoodie is painting a bridge in peace. It’s a rat holding a red balloon. Nobody gives a shit.
What a relief.
so is no one gonna talk about the fact that the auction obviously knew about this stunt beforehand and colluded with Banksy to manipulate the market or
I mean, yeah, that’s likely an accurate picture of what happened but TBH I’ll take it in exchange for the horrified expressions in the photo of the painting being shredded.
Don’t worry, in a couple months he’ll do it again and we’ll go back to Dismaland jokes.
(though apparently he did similar stuff with his signatures during his 2013 “residency” in NY – they were on balloons and people shredded them by fighting over them, which rendered them worthless because now you can’t prove they’re the original signature)
(also if you are looking for actually subversive artists please let’s all remember that Stewart Semple isn’t just mocking Anish Kapoor, he’s also running campaigns against hostile architecture and he also just seems like a sweet man and y’all should follow him on instagram)
Can someone explain why everyone hates banksy? I just thought he paints things on walls?
Just copy-pasting from my other post about Banksy:
Perhaps the chagrin with Banksy’s fame is less to do with a diminishing
street credibility, and more to do with the dissonance between his
subject matter and his commercial success (i.e. parodies of Ronald
McDonald selling for thousands of dollars).
article does a good job of discussing why some people hate banksy. i
don’t think i hate banksy myself, but his work generally feels a bit
stale to me now and he reiterates the same point a lot. I think part of
why people are enjoying this story is because it seems so fresh compared
to the stuff he’s been doing for the last few years, and actually
communicates some of the subversion and disgust that’s hard to read in a
Ronald McDonald painting mocking capitalism that’s going to sell for
[and now adding to that post]
also he started off doing art that would actually get him in trouble, a “they wouldn’t give me gallery space because they didn’t like what I was saying so I took to the streets” kind of thing. His art has become so commodified that banksy on the walls can drive up the prices in a neighborhood. At this point his work is fundamentally different than it was when he started. Initially he was vandalizing private spaces to criticize capitalism and authoritarianism. Now he’s been hosted for a “residency” in new york where cops protected his work while arresting local graffiti artists.
When I was 17 in 2003 I thought Banksy was fuckin great. It was stuff I hadn’t seen before and that painting of a protester throwing a bouquet of flowers *still* really speaks to me about the feelings I have regarding the hopeless position of resisting state violence and the necessity of kindness.
But there’s this pervasive tonal dissonance in his work that’s really frustrating. Look at Dismaland; there’s a painting of a boat full of refugees trying to get to safe land was a stone’s throw away from the sculpture about how aggressive seagulls are. The booth mocking/criticizing predatory lending kind of falls flat among the staggeringly obvious signage (”Hot Dogs are Mystery Meat” is somehow still a thing that people think is edgy to discuss?). Employees carrying balloons reading “I am an imbecile” would tell you to “end-joy” your visit (uuuuuuuuuggggghhhhhh, it’s frustratingly predictable; like he’s hand-holding you through his gallery because he doesn’t trust you enough to not buy merch at the gift shop which you WOULD because you want to support the artists but you’d feel like an asshole for doing so because then you’re the imbecile buying the balloon, replacing experiences with disposable things – chasing the carrot on the hedonic treadmill – have I mentioned that Banksy’s Wall and Piece is frequently sold in art museum gift shops? His movie Exit Through The Gift Shop is not). There were genuinely good works in the fake theme park but it felt like having them held up next to obvious, banal works kind of cheapened them. Boat full of refugees abandoned within easy reach of the shore – also wow those seagulls really like chips, don’t they.
So for me the journey I’ve had with Banksy has been from “look at this cool artist who clearly marks hidden cameras and calls for kindness an criticizes the way children are treated in our society and how much we glorify war in a way that’s biting and actually illegal because he thinks saying these things is worth the risk” to “art man rent seaside park, say hot dog bad; invites damien hirst.”
So I don’t hate him but he really, honestly, is too popular to be the kind of artist he wants to be in a capitalist society – which is exactly why shredding a million dollar painting feels like the freshest and most honest thing he’s done in a decade. Banksy keeps trying to tell us he doesn’t want the money, he doesn’t care about the money, fuck the money, fuck the system and people keep going “this would make a good phone case or tee shirt.”
So fuck it. Shred it.
He is also in a bit of a weird and unique situation as a celebrity – if, say, Russel Brand or Mark Ruffalo or even someone like Marilyn Manson was openly making the kind of comments that Banksy makes in his art it would be mainstream suicide if only because no other major label or corporation would work with them for being so anticapitalist and anticorporatist. Imagine Mark Ruffalo saying “McDonald’s has fed you lies and now feeds shit to your children to inflate its bloated corpse and grow indolent and cruel to its poverty stricken workers and still you want a goddamned happy meal.” Imagine Mark Ruffalo saying it A LOT. Now imagine the next toy tie-in meeting where they’re trying to get Avengers toys prepped to ship. Sounds like we need a new Hulk.
Well Banksy is basically saying those things and *STILL* people want to buy his books and pay millions of dollars for his paintings and get one of his surveillance rats as a BPA-Free reusable Plastic Tumbler.
Look, here’s a ridiculous thing:
“Dumb Starbucks” is the fifth episode of the second season of the American television docu-reality comedy series Nathan for You, and the thirteenth overall episode of the series. Written by series co-creators Nathan Fielder and Michael Koman, as well as Dan Mintz, it first aired on Comedy Central
in the United States on July 29, 2014. In the series, Fielder plays an
off-kilter version of himself, who tries to use his business background
and experiences to help struggling companies and people, offering them
strategies that no traditional business consultant would dare to
In the episode, Fielder attempts to help a struggling coffee shop by renaming it Dumb Starbucks, a parody of the American coffee company and coffeehouse chain.
While producing the episode, the actual Dumb Starbucks location
provoked real international media coverage. This episode was the second
time Nathan for You was the subject of serious coverage from mainstream media outlets, the first being for a video produced for the season one episode “Santa/Petting Zoo”. The location attracted dozens of visitors before it was allegedly shut down by the Los Angeles Health Department of Health Services (LACDHS), an event incorporated into the episode, although the LACDHS has no records of an action against Dumb Starbucks. Spectators and media commentators questioned the stunt’s authenticity, viewing it variously as performance art, a statement on consumerism, a viral marketing achievement or the work of street artist Banksy.
A comedy business for a reality show is indistinguishable from viral marketing and indistinguishable from Banksy.
That’s gotta drive him up the wall.
Me yesterday: lul, Banksy did a funny thing but I’m still critical of his work and its context; I think he must be frustrated but I find it difficult to have sympathy because he comes off as smug sometimes and while I do get that it’s difficult to criticize the commodification of art by making art he does really seem to be beating people over the head with it.
Ancapistan OR Tankies yesterday (tbh with their attitudes toward art ancaps and tankies are kind of hard to tell apart as both of them see it as useless frivolities that distract from an ideally productive society):
Me today: Banksy is fuckin great and if you think you can literally shit out something better fuckin do it and make a million dollars yourself; that suits your goals and worldview after all. Pull the fuckin trigger piglet.
Again, don’t get me wrong. Banksy really isn’t my cup of tea these days. But if you could have shit out something better you would have done it and the sheer unoriginal banality of that claim proves that you can’t make anything better than a copy of a boring statement that boring people have been making for generations.