Banksy, the invisible artist

By Marianina Patsa

He’s a world renown street artist whose identity remains unknown.  His political, satirical and brilliant works are popping up on walls throughout the world.  Frequently, the walls that have been painted are stolen, or the building is sold along with the painting, thus boosting its value.

His graffiti is used as a “weapon” against global politics and social issues such as war, immigration, consumerism, fascism.

“Gaza has often been described as the world’s largest open-air prison.  Which seems a bit unfair to prisons, because there, they don’t have their electricity and water cut off almost every day. ” In the Gaza Strip, no one’s allowed to enter or leave, and those who are stuck there, suffer from starvation and lack of water, when they aren’t being bombarded that is.  But Banksy managed to find his way in.  He created a series of works on the Palestinian ruins, making a clear statement on how refugees were treated by Westerners.  Standing on a half-ruined wall in Gaza, the cat with the bow “reaches” every home that has access to the internet: “We are all indifferent.  And on social media, we like videos of kittens”.

Dismaland, Bansky’s largest scaled work was a disturbing and revolutionary theme park that operated for 5 weeks, was a sinister twist on Disneyland.  People flocked to see dolphins drowned in oil, dead Cinderella’s in overturned horse drawn pumpkin carriages on the roadside and dreamy castles that had been turned into ruins … the main theme of the park was ecological destruction, capitalism, abuse of power and violence.  In its short time of operation, Dismaland had 150,000 visitors, adding 20 million GBP to the economy of the Weston-super-Mare resort (which has a population of just 75,000 people).  It was finally taken down and sent to the Jungle camp, a refugee concentration camp in Calais France, where thousands of immigrants from Syria, Libya and Eritrea were located.

Banksy’s works didn’t all have the same luck.  Unlike the fresco that appeared at the hospital of Bristol, where 97% of residents voted for it to stay, the rat-bureaucrat of Wall Street didn’t make it.  Accompanied by the slogan “Let them eat crack”, it referred to Marie Antoinette, and the cake she proposed that the hungry people of France eat when they asked for bread.

The elusive artist mocks the system that buys his work.  The famous “Girl with Balloon” was sold for € 1.18 million at auction by Sotheby’s.  When the auction was over, an automated mechanism in the frame shredded most of the painting.  Banksy posted a video on social media, along with a quote by Pablo Picasso “The urge to destroy is also a creative urge”, fueling the controversy over what the future of street art really is.