Thursday, April 28, 2011

"Banksy - Wall and Piece" by Banksy

Of all the books I have seen on graffiti this is the most unusual. Even the copyright, or lack of a proper one, is unusual. In the authors opening statement, he asserts that, "The people who truly deface our neighbourhoods are the companies that scrawl giant slogans across buildings and buses trying to make us feel inadequate unless we buy their stuff. They expect to be able to shout their message in your face from every available surface but you're never allowed to shout back. Well, they started the fight and the wall is the weapon of choice to hit them back." This statement sets the tone for the book, which is a beautifully printed 200 and some page collection of some of the most politically, and socially, provocative graffiti which I have ever seen.

Banksy is an internationally known, and anonymous, graffiti artist, painter, writer and filmmaker. This book is a collection of some of his favorite, and most provocative works.

Most of the book is comprised of his work in London, but it also branches out to other countries as well. Isreal, the Palestinian Territories, Paris and even California are all represented here. But this is not the usual type of graffiti that marks gang turf. This stuff is sociological in it's nature, reflecting the concerns, political as well as economic, of the people who live in these countries. Some of the work is truly art.

The beautiful vistas painted on the seperation wall in Bethlehem are breathtakingly real. It appears almost as if you could walk through the wall to the other side. You can taste the freedom of movement intended by the artist.

The British graffiti is also very different than our own brand here in America. Much of it is comprised of "stencil" art, prodding the officials with satirical artwork, exposing the fallacies of the system. One of my favorites involves the sign posted in the water of the lake at St. James Park in London. The sign, complete with the symbol for a Radiation Hazard, simply appeared overnight. The Metropolitan Police actually posted a guard at the site to assure passers-by that it was not a threat.

From road signs depicting "Flying Pigs Crossing", to stencils of children holding helium filled balloons in order to float over the Seperation Wall, this book kicks, and prods, the reader into thinking. And thinking is what good art is all about. Isn't it?

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