Greenpointers are really missing the mark.
October 2, Banksy tagged a Chelsea garage door located on 25th and 10th underneath the High Line and across the street from Pace Gallery. Since the tags inception, his graffiti took on many styles and transformations. I enjoyed walking past it the few times I did that day to see a new perspective on his original art because of its tagged acquisitions. However, Banksy’s ephemeral nature did not please all that witnessed the transformations during what he defines as “Restoration” Phases (Please see my previous Blog Post to see Restoration Phases of Banksy’s Graffiti). I overheard a group of girls sulking over how someone would destroy such an important piece of art. Destruction? I would not go as far as to say Banksy’s mark is devalued; his mark is only taking an inevitable course that he either dictated, approved, or simply did not care to stop.
October 8, a Banksy popped up in Greenpoint. However, it did not undergo restorations like his previous tags. Instead the owner of the door covered the graffiti up to “protect it.” The Hyperallergic article written by Hrag Vartanian stated, “A person named Robert Dunning from Park Slope, Brooklyn, offered the man who was directing the crew $1,000 and a new door for the piece. The man, who refused to be identified, asked, “$200,000?” The man was obviously not tempted by the $1,000 and a door.” It is now being reported that the door has been completely removed.
People are missing the point. Banksy is an elusive street artist that works in the public realm. His graffiti art is not meant to be bought or sold, but is meant to change with time, grow with its surrounding space, and eventually be forgotten after new tags continually appear. My friend did bring up an interesting counterargument affirming the actions of the gentlemen trying to buy the door as only natural. Allow me to paraphrase my colleague: “Banksy should probably be smarter than to tag on a potentially removable object, he’s a commodity.” Banksy should know better as to his status of Contemporary Art Star and should act accordingly to the only natural actions of misinformed viewers.
On a side note, it seems Banksy is inclined to tag moveable and/or removable objects. His tag in Chelsea on 25th and 10th is on a garage door, and he created two on-the-move exhibitions using utility trucks: one with a complete waterfall oasis touring the East Village, another with stuffed animal farm animals peering our of a truck moving around the Meatpacking Distract. Maybe this is a quip on society’s obsession with possessions, or that art commodification is inevitable. I like to think Banksy intends transience to permeate graffiti’s total ethos; art that changes with time, moves through time as well.
If you have seen “Exit through the Gift Shop” you will understand Banksy’s satire in his title. When perusing a museum show, we exit through a gift shop where we can purchase posters, mugs, books, and other merchandise plastered with the exhibiting artist’s artworks. Banksy is right; even when we are unable to own or purchase a piece of art, we can own or possess its image.
Society today has a problem with temporal art. We want to take its photos to remember its existence. We care just as much about the Image as we care about the Art. We want to buy graffitied doors so we can own a “Banksy”. When it comes to art in the public sphere, and especially Graffiti, it is not meant to last, or live on forever: it is meant to change with the times, metamorphose through the seasons, and eventually fade away. Give up the Image, and you can have some fun with the Art.
- Banksy uncovered: Why are we so keen to ‘unmask’ artist? (theweek.co.uk)
- Banksy in New York Day 8: Find This Fake Plato Quote Somewhere In Greenpoint [Update] (blogs.villagevoice.com)
- Banksy’s “Plato” Door in Greenpoint Already Removed (animalnewyork.com)
- Bansky In NY: Better Out Than In On Show (news.sky.com)
- So How Is Banksy’s New York Street Art Spree Going? (usnews.com)
- Banksy hits NYC with a different graffiti accent (techi.com)
- In pictures: Banksy unveils Better Out Than In show in New York (dailyrecord.co.uk)
- Smart Crew Alters New Banksy, Swaps Out His “Graffiti Is a Crime” Sign With Their Own (animalnewyork.com)