Really quick one tonight. This article was brought to my attention by Ntrpnrs (if you haven’t checked out there site yet, please do- strait after this!), over on facebook.
So Banksy is in New York City and local graffiti artists are daring to go over his work. This is big news to people who have come to see Banksy as a representative for urban street culture- ‘how very dare they deface a Banksy’. But lets put this in context..
NYC is one of the worlds hubs of graffiti, there are many talented artists all fighting for space. The only significance to an NYC artist covering a piece by Banksy is the media attention it brings. In reality there are only so many walls; artists covering others work is just part of the deal. Artists aren’t quite so precious about it as the media are, the worlds press are won over by Banksys simplistic and easy to understand pieces, other artists may not be as impressed.
Taking a look at the pictures on my blog, or taking a walk around any city, pieces of skilled and intricate can be found. These pieces may not be as easy to understand, or the artist hasn’t the time/money to flood the public realm with his work, or he is not afforded the luxury of world travel – therefore they fail to catch the medias attention. Just because his work is noticed it doesn’t mean that within the graffiti/ street art culture he is afforded the same admiration that would lead to his work being preserved.
Banksy wasn’t renting the space to display his art work, he put it up on a wall and another artist did the same. There may have been motivations of basking in his reflected glory by covering the work. However this is a monster of the medias making; if less focus was put on Banksy and more on to the graffiti culture as a whole, pieces would be covered organically, not for reflected glory.
Territory is territory, Banksy was a visitor. It is only right that local artists are showcased. If there is to be a winner in this debate, let it be the talented artists who continue to paint without praise, let this deflect some of the attention away from one ‘famous’ representative for the worlds of graffiti/ street art and on to the culture as a whole. Lets start wondering why graffiti in general is covered up or cleaned away and then we will be having the right debate.