Re: Turns out he's a graffiti artist.

1

The unicorn was a nice touch.
</spoiler>


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 10-13-10 6:08 AM
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Decent interview with the show's executive producer.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 10-13-10 6:11 AM
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He's quite popular in the UK. He's best known for stencil based work.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 10-13-10 6:14 AM
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The show has hit all the notes in the opening before (their own outsourced-to-korean-sweatshops animation and manfacturing, specifically), but it's pretty.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 10-13-10 6:15 AM
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Full disclosure: I was all like and stuff, "Who the hell is Banksy?"

We'd all like to know. I hope he turns out to be the fat kid.


Posted by: mcmc | Link to this comment | 10-13-10 6:41 AM
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Yeah, I didn't know who Banksy was either. Guess I'm not hip like that.

I'm actually one of those frumps opposed to the glamorization of graffiti artists. Not because what they do isn't art - some is quite beautiful - but because revering the most talented ones inspires the less talented ones to cover every available surface with their ugly bubble lettering.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 10-13-10 6:52 AM
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5: Turns out he's a graffiti artist.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 10-13-10 6:57 AM
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A mysterious graffiti artist.


Posted by: mcmc | Link to this comment | 10-13-10 7:02 AM
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A very, very famous mysterious graffiti artist.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 10-13-10 7:03 AM
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He could be a mysterious graffiti artist fat kid!


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 10-13-10 7:03 AM
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Arguably his best known work, because it can be see from the mainline trains ito Bristol. 6.2 is absolutely right.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 10-13-10 7:10 AM
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11: Context.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 10-13-10 7:11 AM
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revering the most talented ones inspires the less talented ones to cover every available surface with their ugly bubble lettering.

This is true. Couple of years ago I caught a couple of Shoreditch types trying to stencil some sub-Banksy art onto the side of the block I lived in.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 10-13-10 7:15 AM
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In theory I disapprove of graffiti, and I really do hate the sloppy stuff. But I kind of miss the 70's/early 80's full subway car pieces people painted -- watching one of those cars pulling into a station was great. I sort of wish there was some way not to clamp down too hard on attractive graffiti, while being draconian about the lazy name-scribbling.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-13-10 7:17 AM
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14: On banksy's most recent trip to NYC, his stuff was being hit with dopey bubble lettering nearly as fast as he could paint it. It was an honor, apparently, to scribble over his stuff first. Many examples here.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 10-13-10 7:25 AM
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I just cut the dimensions in half to get the whole thing on the screen, but I think I distorted it. Anyway, I have to go teach but if anyone is dying to fix it before I get back, you have my blessing.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 10-13-10 7:28 AM
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This is twelve kinds of awesome and I can't believe you all don't know who banksy is. This is one of my favorites.


Posted by: foolishmortal | Link to this comment | 10-13-10 7:45 AM
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15: fair play, we did the same thing to David Blaine when he came over to London.

http://www.thisislondon.co.uk/news/article-6582930-blaine-pelted-with-eggs.do


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 10-13-10 7:46 AM
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Banksy isn't that mysterious. Here's a pic.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 10-13-10 7:48 AM
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18: Well, to be fair to you guys, some of the effacing seems to have been done in the service of an old London tagging beef.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 10-13-10 7:52 AM
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Specifically, this beef, which arose when banksy painted over (in his pretty, neat style) some more traditional graffiti.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 10-13-10 7:54 AM
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I daresay it should come as no surprise to most here that I'm generally in support of almost all graffiti. I don't even mind scratch-bombing, if it is audacious enough and well done. And I gather that Banksy's politics are near enough to mine that we'd probably get on pretty well. But there is something about his art, his media presence and his general attitude that causes me to sympathize with the anti-Banksy contingent in the graf' writers scene.

One of the comments on the Flickr about that beef characterized Banksy's fanbase as "Guardian readers", which I think goes some distance towards elucidating what rubs me the wrong way. I like graffiti, I like the history of it, I like the pieces themselves, I like its status as one of the three main components of hip hop culture and I like the subculture around it. Banksy seems intent on co-opting graffiti, admittedly it's for a progressive political purpose, but it's co-optation all the same.

Yes, there are taggers who can be particularly irritating -- I think it's just fucking stupid to tag a church or a house or inside a community space (except in the restroom) -- but there's nothing that fills my heart with joy in the same way that seeing a really well-executed piece go up along the train tracks or in view of a freeway or something. It's the revolt of creativity against capital and propriety. Why should it be that just because some asshole has a lot more money than you, he can put up a billboard for ProLife America or Rush Limbaugh or GMO foods? You want to talk about vandalism? Talk about the vandalism of advertising, the constant stream of pointless, boring, mendacious dreck that constitutes our visual environment under late-stage capitalism. Graffiti may not be the best solution, but it doesn't tell you you're too fat, it doesn't tell you you need a bigger SUV, it doesn't tell you to turn off your critical thinking skills and mindlessly tune in to some rich fascist on the radio. Until we have a society that can undo those kinds of intrusions into our consciousness, I say up with the tags and throw-ups and pieces!


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 10-13-10 8:40 AM
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Pittsburgh had a guy who kept writing "MFONE" on everything. He got six months and still didn't stop. Now he's serving 2 to 5 years. He had some kind of radical political agenda, or at least the people trying to get him out of prison do, but he basically seems like an asshole with slightly above average motivation and well above average narcissism. He certainly doesn't have the kind of talent that could have made him a local notable.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 10-13-10 8:50 AM
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Natilo makes an interesting point. My response to wall advertising is indeed with greater unhappiness than my response to graffito-tagging.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 10-13-10 8:54 AM
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And indeed, who could not be cheered by this?


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 10-13-10 8:58 AM
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my partner and I are considering chalk graffiti. if we actually tag stuff we will get in serious trouble. (we were thinking of a mysterious andre the giant type campaign loosely related to our store). what if we make huge, beautiful pieces and then they are promptly swept away by tropical rainstorms? no harm no foul, right? actually there are cameras everywhere and my husband will tell us we can't do it because our family will be kicked out of the country. bah.


Posted by: alameida | Link to this comment | 10-13-10 9:01 AM
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Do't you get flogged within a inch of your life for taggig in Narnia? As your attorney, I'd advise you not to do it.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 10-13-10 9:04 AM
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27.1: Possibly.

taggig {adj.} (also: sexuellt upptänd, kåt, hornartad, horn-) horny {adj.} (Swedish)


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 10-13-10 9:09 AM
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28. Yeah, that too, but wrong thread. The 'n' key on this stupid computer is fucked and it'll take a month to get it fixed.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 10-13-10 9:14 AM
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the constant stream of pointless, boring, mendacious dreck that constitutes our visual environment under late-stage capitalism.

This, seriously. As I check my email and am assaulted with a fat person melting away to reveal a skinny person again, and again, and again, and again. Every fucking surface is available to persuade you to buy something.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 10-13-10 9:27 AM
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Every fucking surface is available to persuade you to buy something.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 10-13-10 9:29 AM
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22: Well, okay. Just so long as no one starts tagging my dreams.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 10-13-10 9:30 AM
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there's nothing that fills my heart with joy in the same way that seeing a really well-executed piece go up along the train tracks or in view of a freeway or something. It's the revolt of creativity against capital and propriety.

OTOH, a well-designed bridge may have a certain grace to it that is not improved by the words "YOUNG MENTAL DRYLAW" in neon painted letters five feet high.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 10-13-10 9:38 AM
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Bill Benzon had a couple of thoughtful pieces on his experience of graffiti in his neighborhood (including a trip with an artist to the interesting Jersey Cut area) and more generally.

I find I go back and forth on it, Nat pretty much covers what are the positive aspects for me. I do find I enjoy it on freight cars (several roads I drive on parallel busy freight tracks).


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 10-13-10 9:40 AM
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If graffiti artists are willing to stick with vandalizing advertisements, I'll be happy to stop bitching about it. But taggers who mark up playground equipment? Which then inspires middle schoolers to draw penises and pot leafs all over everything?

Someone drew a bong on the inside of a slide my four-year-old uses. So, naturally, he says "what's that?" Not a conversation I wanted to have for another 10 years.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 10-13-10 9:57 AM
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#129


Posted by: lemmy caution | Link to this comment | 10-13-10 10:29 AM
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26: that sounds dangerous.

On one level I really appreciated this, and the unicorn was a nice touch, on another level it kind of bothered me: it seemed less like a satire of sweatshop use than a satire of anti-sweatshop activism, and it feels like its absurdity actually neutralizes the discussion for a while. Rather than making the most pointed and 'funny b/c it's true' type statement, Banksy/animators chose to make the most aesthetically extreme statement, regardless of the longterm after effect.That sort of moves it from the 'art with a message' category to 'art coopting an issue.'


Posted by: Ile | Link to this comment | 10-13-10 10:51 AM
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I agree with 37.2.

I've appreciated a bunch of art graffitti in my day and there are certainly some taggers who have put up beautiful things at certain points in history. But 95% of tagging around here is either gang-related strictu sensu, or the product of specific "tagger" gangs of 12-18 year olds who just like to scrawl their dumbass tags on things. Many of these losers have recently taken to carrying arms, and there have been a couple of murders and other horrible incidents when a property owner confronts them. That kind of tagging is seriously massively destructive to the community, is hideously ugly, and is just a big social problem full stop that should be prosecuted.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 10-13-10 11:10 AM
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26/27: I have no advice to offer for alameida's other problem, but on this one, I suggest an unconventional approach: You and your partner should seek official permission to do your chalk art grafitti.

You just have to identify the right official in whatever government department is in charge of Narnia's long term strategy to use the heavy hand of the state to transform its citizens from mindless workaholic drones into spontaneous, creative knowledge workers. Then you pitch your little exercise to that official as just the kind of mildly-edgy-but-not-too-threatening artistic endeavor that Narnia is attempting to highlight as it rebrands itself in the eyes of the world. And with a the collaboration of Narnia's vibrant, world-class artistic/academic community, no less!

Naturally, you'd want to keep the official authorization secret from anyone except policemen and magistrates if you get caught in the act. With any luck, you'll end up being simultaneously denounced and celebrated by different arms of the state!

Worst case scenario: you get publicly caned and become the top story on cable news for, like, a week.


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 10-13-10 11:16 AM
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you get publicly caned and become the top story on cable news for, like, a week.

And on kinky porn sites for, like, forever.


Posted by: Tasseled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 10-13-10 11:40 AM
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I dig Bansky, but he's no more a graffiti artist than Shepard Fairey or Keith Harring were. His wall stencils are basically unauthorized public art. As such they are awesome and can lead to a more pleasant urban experience, as well as notoriety and ultimately gallery shows for him. Plenty of young art students and bored creative types do the same thing, with varying degrees of artistic or personal success.

But (and this is where I declare Spike and others' argument to be nuts) they only relate to taggers and other graffiti artists in so far as their motivation falls into the broad category "desire for people to see and recognize my work." Taggers, despite the collaborations and crossovers of the 1980s and the more recent incoporation of style elements by gallery artists, aren't generally speaking motivated by the desire to be recognized by the art world, but by other taggers.

Aesthetically, I'm pretty neutral on graffiti. I don't dig writing, but I don't mind it either. And politically, yeah, I feel like it's no worse than advertizing, but it's also, in the aggregate, no better than advertizing. (I fail to see the liberatory potential in the message "Shawna is a slut!")


Posted by: Jimmy Pongo | Link to this comment | 10-13-10 11:46 AM
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a well-designed bridge may have a certain grace to it that is not improved by the words "YOUNG MENTAL DRYLAW" in neon painted letters five feet high.

Recently, I drove under an overpass and saw "THIS IS REBAR" spray painted beneath a piece of rebar sticking out of a concrete pillar. I'm not sure if it was the work of a graffiti artist or a construction crew but aesthetically it was an improvement.


Posted by: Populuxe | Link to this comment | 10-13-10 12:18 PM
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Classic graffiti of my youth:

"ITS ONLY TEENAGE WASTELAND" written on one of the walls of my high school. I remember it being there the whole time I went to this high school (3 years), but that just can't be true, can it?)

"Surrender Dorothy" on the overpass on the Beltway just when the Mormon temple came into view.
http://flyaway.smugmug.com/Maryland/Montgomery-County/300111_jqofx/2/72021828_ZNzBc#72021828_ZNzBc

"U.S. Out of North America" -- lots of places in Ann Arbor in the mid-80s.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 10-13-10 12:39 PM
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I can't find the photo on the internet, but my favorite bit of graffiti was "I Wish I Was A Little Bit Taller" scrawled along the very bottom of a blank billboard.

This is where I get to be all hipster-ish and say I was burned out on Banksy years ago. The Simpsons bit is obviously great, sparkling with cynical wit and all, but I get annoyed at the pretensions of his political messages. I mean, as JP's link at 2 shows, the stuff shown isn't truly controversial or impossible to air; it was all greenlit by the execs. That everything is manufactured by kids in third-world sweatshops isn't a revelation, it's conventional wisdom. By poking fun at it and going all over-the-top with it, the dude's making it easier for people to laugh it off. I don't mean to be humorless; it's really funny. It's just that Banksy seems to get mistaken for being something other than an entertainer.

(To be clear, this isn't directed to anyone here, I'm using this as an outlet to vent about people I'm around, who I imagine would respond to my pointing this out with blank, uncomprehending stares.)


Posted by: persistently visible | Link to this comment | 10-13-10 1:58 PM
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There was a huge "JESUS SAVES FROM HELL" sign that was changed to "JESUS SAVES FROM HELLO DOLLY REVIVALS" in downtown LA in the early '90s. I liked that one.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 10-13-10 2:17 PM
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There's a placard stuck up by a constantly repainted wall of graffiti near here that says "CASH FOR YOUR BANKSY" with a phone number beneath. It cracks me up every time I see it.


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 10-13-10 2:27 PM
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I skimmed the thread and missed Ile pwning me back at 37.


Posted by: persistently visible | Link to this comment | 10-13-10 2:35 PM
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One of my favorite pieces of graffiti is one I saw in Kentucky somewhere near the (delightfully named) Big Bone Lick State Park where the "JESU" in "JESUS OR HELL" had been replaced by "ELVI."

Another favorite is one I saw in New Orleans: VICTOR LASLOW'S HIERARCHY OF NEEDS: INGRID BERGMAN; LETTERS OF TRANSIT; DITCH BOGEY; FOOD, WATER, SHELTER.


Posted by: Populuxe | Link to this comment | 10-13-10 2:40 PM
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Also, 22 is really good. Now I've really read the thread this time, I promise!


Posted by: persistently visible | Link to this comment | 10-13-10 2:40 PM
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This is maybe 250 yards from where I'm now typing. I like it: he's put big funny charming pictures on a score of otherwise dead surfaces in my immediate (much of it rundown) neighbourhood. I'm fine with Fox now picking up the tab for this, honestly.


Posted by: tierce de lollardie | Link to this comment | 10-13-10 3:34 PM
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I mean this...


Posted by: tierce de lollardie | Link to this comment | 10-13-10 3:35 PM
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And honestly, Natilo's idea that drawing on walls is "co-opting graffiti" is as pretentiously silly and anti-political as anything any Guardian reader ever claimed about his work. But there you go, he started on my patch and he made it look nicer, and I'm territorial like that.


Posted by: tierce de lollardie | Link to this comment | 10-13-10 3:41 PM
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The "Give peas a chance" on the M25 always raises a smile.


Posted by: asilon | Link to this comment | 10-13-10 3:43 PM
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25, I love you.


Posted by: mcmc | Link to this comment | 10-13-10 3:44 PM
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(Actually he started in Bristol, which isn't really my patch at all...)


Posted by: tierce de lollardie | Link to this comment | 10-13-10 3:44 PM
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I like its status as one of the three main components of hip hop culture

Four elements, surely. Graf, MCing, DJing, and Breaking, no?


Posted by: W. Breeze | Link to this comment | 10-13-10 4:03 PM
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This isn't my favorite local example of texty spraypainting, but it was nice while it lasted. I haven't seen the one Populuxe mentions, but COLIN POWELL = VANILLA ICE is pretty well-known here.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 10-13-10 5:57 PM
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And honestly, Natilo's idea that drawing on walls is "co-opting graffiti" is as pretentiously silly and anti-political as anything any Guardian reader ever claimed about his work. But there you go, he started on my patch and he made it look nicer, and I'm territorial like that.

But it is co-opting graffiti. Apart from anything else, Banksy aesthetises graffiti in a way I find very very problematic (style is the enemy, more or less).

I also dislike the way his graffiti isn't very good graffiti, and it isn't very good sculpture (or painting) either. (I am a horrid modernist sometimes.)


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 10-14-10 4:49 AM
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Apart from anything else, Banksy aesthetises graffiti in a way I find very very problematic (style is the enemy, more or less).

Style is the enemy of what, exactly? The valuable political work being done by aesthetically naive graffitists?

Why do you say Banksy's work isn't good graffiti? What are the criteria graffiti must meet in order to be good?

And whether it's good graffiti or not, it isn't sculpture or painting, so to call it one or the other and then judge it bad is the sort of thing dishonest critics do before chasing the uncategorized visual arts workers off their lawns.

It's weird how so many lefty political types end up on the same side of the argument with the tweedy purse-lipped ultra-conservative Hilton Kramer/Big Hollywood types when it comes to art. I guess they agree on one thing--that art is meant to serve.


Posted by: mcmc | Link to this comment | 10-14-10 8:41 AM
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59 is well said.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 10-14-10 8:46 AM
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I'm not a huge fan of Banksy's work [although I like some] but I don't think it's true that his graffiti isn't always good graffiti. His use of stencil work is pretty good, and the aesthetic he's adopted reminds me of John Heartfeld, sometimes.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 10-14-10 8:51 AM
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You know, I find that line about dishonest art critics quite offensive, and the line about uncategorised visual arts workers is pretty hilariously misguided.

Why do I say banksy doesn't make good grafitti? Because I don't find it very interesting. I find it quite dull and laboured & over enamoured with technical aspects of graffiti that simply aren't that compelling for me.

Why do I say it isn't very good sculpture/painting/etc? again, because it isn't (and in fact Banksy does sometimes make sculpture/painting; if I can be arsed getting my copy of Wall and Peice out I cite works for you.) But that wasn't really the point. The point was that if they are grafitti I don't like them, and if they're sculpture/painting I don't like them either.

Why do I dislike Banksy's style? Because he makes graffiti acceptable (and only inasmuch as it apes other artforms) basically. All the lines about Banksy being `good' graffiti? That's the problem.


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 10-14-10 9:53 AM
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57: I was the Ghost of Habeas Corpus for Halloween that year.


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 10-14-10 10:01 AM
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My favorite joint costume was also political but not as widely appreciated as I'd hoped, though it was topical then.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 10-14-10 10:16 AM
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"I find it quite dull and laboured & over enamoured with technical aspects of graffiti that simply aren't that compelling for me."

I'm not sure I understand this. While I get a lot of the criticism of Banksy (he's witty but not exactly profound), one thing I do think he has going for him is that his works really engage with their "canvas". Which, while I'm no expert, would seem to be a pretty good quality for graffiti. What "technical aspects" beyond this do you have in mind?


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 10-14-10 10:18 AM
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62: So we've gone from " Banksy aesthetises graffiti in a way I find very very problematic (style is the enemy, more or less)" to "I don't like them". Okay. I guess there's nothing to argue about here.

Sorry about the ill-chosen word "dishonest". Post-coffee, I would have picked something like "tedious".

Why do I dislike Banksy's style? Because he makes graffiti acceptable (and only inasmuch as it apes other artforms) basically. All the lines about Banksy being `good' graffiti? That's the problem.

Graffiti artists were happily transitioning to gallery shows in the seventies. There's been plenty of two-way traffic between the street and the--what? professional? commercial?--art world ever since. You give Banksy too much credit. And you attribute attitudes to other graffitists for which there is little or no evidence.

As for my "hilariously misguided" remark about uncategorized visual art workers, feel free to correct me.


Posted by: mcmc | Link to this comment | 10-14-10 1:14 PM
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