Banksy needs no introduction. Thanks to his notoriety in the press, everybody seems to have an opinion, including Brian Sewell, who calls him ‘a total clown’.
Text: Michaela Freeman | Images:
There have been numerous books on him and his name has become almost synonymous with the term ‘street art’. He’s also one of the most searched for artists in Google, as well as a favourite meta tag to use by the attention-seeking art writers.
Claimed to be written on ‘the back of de-faced ten-pounds notes in a cellar in Shoreditch’, this new publication by Carpet Bombing Culture thankfully puts aside the undying hunt for Banksy’s true identity. Instead of simply parroting popular and sensationalist views, it goes through a whole list of them, one by one, explaining and defending him, as if he were on trial. It puts the facts straight, using a language that reads well and a voice that is entertaining. Yes, he’s shot to an incredible level of fame, but it wasn’t overnight or a reason for him to produce work, it’s claimed here. He might have painted a zebra in the wrong part of the world, but he also backed off from New Orleans realising that his activity might interfere with the city’s essential clean up. He might have copied Blek Le Rat, but has that not made Blek incredibly famous in return? What the book suggests is that Banksy is the one repeatedly taken advantage of, and forced to fire back by refusing to authenticate works ripped out from their original locations and shipped across the world by greedy gallerists.
Photographs in this book feature some of his well-documented work, but also international and less notorious pieces, emphasising the importance of chosen place, a powerful site-specificity of Banksy’s street works. A no-nonsense, must-read book on today’s culture and politics.
Banksy: You Are an Acceptable Level of Threat and if You Were Not You Would Know About It
Carpet Bombing Culture
228pp Hb £19.95
For more information, go to Carpet Bombing Culture.