Banksy Does New York

Beginning on October. 1, 2013, the nefarious Banksy revealed one work of art each day for a month amongst the streets of New York City. This self-proclaimed “residency” acquired a cult following of Banksy “hunters”: gallerists, art fanatics and admirers who would wait eagerly for their next installment of the scavenger-hunt style art tour of NY, addicted to the chase and the chance to capture a glimpse of the elusive artist’s street art before it was white-washed, vandalized or stolen.

The documentary, Banksy Does New York, surveys the hysterical month of pop-up pieces that ranged from unsanctioned works of graffiti, to transportable installations and dioramas, political stunts and sculptures that teased audiences and excited fans. While Banksy would utilize his website and Instagram account to upload clues concerning the location of his latest act, he did not have any direct involvement with the director Chris Moukarbel or the documentary. The documentary was created and perpetuated solely by the Instagram and Twitter accounts of adherent fans of the residency.

What I found most interesting about all of this was the established NY art scene’s reluctance to acknowledge Banksy’s presence in their midst. The cultural media disregarded Banksy’s “residency”, perhaps due to the association of graffiti with crime or the rogue‘s anonymity, however street artists regarded Banksy as a sellout due to his notoriety. In a niche of his own, however, Banksy’s works became objects of desire, disseminating greed and achieving prices at auction of hundreds of thousands of dollars. Banksy’s “residency” compelled people to venture to suburbs around NY they had never been, all sects of society involved in a pursuit that revealed the city in a light they had never before seen. Banksy asserts that “outside is where art should live … Don’t we want to live in a world of art?”.