Banksy is a British artist for whom I have a tremendous amount of respect. The easiest way to define his work is to say that he is a graffiti artist, but the truth is that he’s much more than that– the terms “guerilla artist” and “culture jammer” fit the bill much more closely. Some people say that his work “gives graffiti a good name,” but the official word from the organization “Keep Britain Tidy” claims that he is no more than a common vandal. I suppose it’s up to you to decide where you stand, but I think his art is exceptional.
My favorite work of his is probably his indoor stuff. As a statement against the politics that govern the fine art world, he will often alter or create a small painting, walk into a famous museum, and hang his own piece beside the famous selected works. As far as I know, this piece didn’t hang in any famous galleries, but it’s an example of what he does to pre-existing artwork:
He does most of his work outside, though. My favorite piece of his was in one of the Disney parks (I think it was Disney World, but other sources have said Disney Land). He took a mannequin, dressed it in an orange jumpsuit, and put a black hood over its head, Guantanamo Bay-style.
He also does all sorts of wonderful outdoor art, all over the world. It’s rather a shock that he has managed to get away with it for so long, but I hope his luck continues. Most of his work has a political slant to it, often delivered through his ironic sense of humor (or humour, I suppose).
I read in this article from Wired that he was offered an opportunity to work on a Nike advertisement campaign, which he wisely refused. It’s not surprising that he turned down the job, but it is somewhat surprising to me that a corporation like Nike would turn to a culture-jammer to try to promote the very things he creates artwork to mock.
Perhaps Nike was simply trying an “if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em” attitude. That attitude, in and of itself, is what differentiates culture-jammers from consumers. Consumers cannot evade the overwhelming flood of marketing and advertising tools thrown at them from every sort of media outlet, daily. The end result is that, in a way, they “join” the marketers by buying into whatever they’re trying to sell. Culture-jammers seek to do exactly the opposite, preferring to fight the commercial miasma that floats about them, even if it means risking jail (as most anti-commercial culture-jamming art pieces do).
More on that later. Now for the music.
I’ve posted a mash-up with this Beach Boys song before, but this first track is quite a bit different.
This second track has been in my music library for ages now, and I decided it was time to bring it out.
I was simply stunned by the cleanliness of this final track. I even wondered for a second if it was mashed up at all (though I realized my error almost immediately). As far as well-produced mash-ups go, this one is at the top of the pile. I hadn’t even heard of the DJ before, though they clearly do wonderful work.
As a final thought, I’ll leave you with this quote, which Banksy uses as his “manifesto:”
When I was a kid I used to pray every night for a new bicycle.
Then I realised God doesn’t work that way, so I stole
one and prayed for forgiveness.
– Emo Philips