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Banksy Does New York (2014) Review

The most copied sculpted image in the world these days is Jesus Christ. The second one is Ronald McDonald. What does it say about us? What is the importance of art these days?

Banksy Does New York is a joint film memoir documenting one out of the ordinary month in the fall of 2013. That year’s October will be remembered by the New Yorkers as a Banksy Hunt. On October the 1st Banksy, a British street art artist, claimed residency of New York City for the entire month. On his Twitter account, he promised to publish one work a day with an approximate location. Chris Moukarbel is following a number of Banksy hunters, wanna-be art collectors, artists, journalists as well as ordinary thieves and an opportunity seeking businessmen while they’re trying to be in the presence of Banksy’s art even if just for a minute.

Banksy is a rare phenomenon in modern culture. No one knows nothing about this man. Ok, all we know is that he’s British. His works have been present in London for years now. We know he’s also been traveling around Europe (Barcelona, Berlin, Naples), North America (Boston, Chicago, L.A., Toronto and many others), Middle-East (a famous piece in Palestine) as well as Australia (Sydney and Melbourne) and African Mali. He’s a graffiti artist often compared to Basquiat, a film director, social and political activist. His works are critical, taxing and thought to provoke.

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We know that people from all over the world collect Banksy and are willing to pay millions of dollars for a piece. But what happens when the pieces are located on public building and are there for everyone to see? As the story goes on we learn that a lot of street artists of lesser fame tend to tag Banksy’s works with their own names – that brings that attention and recognizability. There are unrestrained people who are willing to cut a piece of the public building (!) to have a Banksy. Less extreme practices are based on collecting the snapshots of the works when they appear before they get destroyed by other artists, public authorities, or stolen. It’s a statement of some sort being a part of the art moving to the unknown. There is no museum fee, time is money. Presence is everything.

From a day to day madness around artist’s New York’s stunt, we get more insight on Banksy’s magnitude from collector’s/gallery owner’s point of view. During his NY days Banksy puts out a stand, hires an older gentleman to sell his original works for 60$ a piece. Nobody knows they are original Banksys so the clerk collects only 420$ in total. One man from Chicago buys 4 pieces to cover his empty walls. He pays 240 bucks for them – now he’s a millionaire.

Banksy Does New York. Directed by: Chris Moukarbel. Produced by: Jack Turner. 2014 HBO Documentary Films.

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© 2018 Anna Jozwiak. All rights reserved.

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