Tag Archives: Banksy

Who is Banksy? What is he?

Banksy

If you don’t know who Banksy is, you can join the club. Verification of his identity has not yet occurred, although there are photos which are supposed to be him, and conjectures about who he is.

Despite his anonymity, he is rapidly becoming one of the most famous artists in the world.

He leaves his art on buildings and no one seems to notice him doing it. Sometimes the city removes the art. Other times these works get sold even though Banksy does not seem to approve of people selling his work that was not created to be sold.

His work is technically simple, much of it created with just stencils and spray paint. Which might leave us to ask how in the hell a truly unknown artist became such a phenomenon.

Who hasn’t gone to go see a bar band and thought to themselves, wtf, this music is ten times better than the crap that gets played over and over on the radio, or seen art at a coffee shop that was as good or superior to work that sells in galleries for tens of thousands dollars.

As a writer whose reviewers often state that my book is the best they have read in years and that Edge Play X is better than the mega selling 50 Shades of Gray, but who still struggles to pay my bills, I appreciate the statement he makes about art, and success in art, not just in his work, but in his life.

He became successful outside of the machinery that creates success, machinery that leaves most of us behind.

Let’s face it, anyone who is able to think knows that fame in art is not always about quality or skill. Too often, success is based on marketing and convincing the public or anyone who buys that this song or art work is valuable.

Banksy rejects the pretentious art world. He understands its nature, that it is an illusion created by those with a monetary stake in the system, the power to control what is seen and heard, and the pretension to think they know better.

He lives anonymously, not going openly to art shows. I like to think that sometimes he attends them in disguise just to see how people react. He doesn’t seek to prop up his ego. He is the anti-Picasso.

He criticizes the art establishment. He is quoted as saying, “The Art we look at is made by only a select few. A small group create, promote, purchase, exhibit and decide the success of Art. Only a few hundred people in the world have any real say. When you go to an Art gallery you are simply a tourist looking at the trophy cabinet of a few millionaires…

Banksy is a ghost. His stand is against the consumer culture and the effect that is has on our psyches and our humanity. Banksy does not ask for permission because the companies do not ask for permission when they shove their advertising down our throats and into our heads. He leaves his work wherever he wants, work that forces us to question our culture, our rules, and the established way of doing things.

This is graffiti, right? Real art doesn’t appear on buildings for free. Isn’t the place for art in a gallery where rich assholes can buy it as an investment, convincing themselves that they understand the artistic statement? Aren’t famous artists ego maniacs? Who the fuck is this guy? He is an idea, a spirit. His statements transcend his identity. He has found a way to make statements without an identity, and without having to sell his identity.

It isn’t to say that artists don’t deserve to earn money from their work. But is the primary purpose of art to make money? Does art need to be pigeon-holed to specific areas? Why is it wrong for an artist to make us look at their work when we are forced to look at advertisements?

Artists become famous not just for their work, but also for how they live their lives. He lives outside of the system. He creates for all. Banksy is subversive and the nature of meaningful art is subversive.

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Thank you, Banksy.

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I’m being ripped off. Not for much money, but people are taking something from me that I didn’t say that they could have. My book.

That’s right, I recently found out that my book, Edge Play X, is on a website where people can download it for free. I contacted the site and filled out all their forms, but who knows if it will ever come off of there.

The funny thing is, a couple times a year, I usually do a promotion and give my book away for free anyway, and I don’t have this same feeling when I give the books away as when I realized that my book was free from this site. It’s a control issue. I didn’t say that it was ok for them to do that.

In a strange way, I feel somewhat flattered that my book is good enough to rip off. In every book I write, one of the characters steals a book. So in a way, the people who are downloading my book without permission are like some of the characters I write about.

Once, I stole a book from the library. Actually, I just borrowed it without checking it out and a few months later, I took it back. It was a vintage language book in the special section of the library.  For weeks, every day after school, I would go to the public library and hide in the special editions section. Years later, they closed off that room except by permission. I’m not sure why I was so drawn to the Lenni Lenape dictionary. Maybe it was that their words were so different than English with its Latin roots (the only other thing I ever stole was a pair of bowling shoes). Anyway, with the help of a friend, we smuggled it out of the library, and a few months later I put it back out of guilt.

I guess when my characters are stealing books, maybe they are making a statement about art and ideas and the cost of those ideas. But the book I wrote is not a sculpture in a gallery that is selling for more than what most people earn in the course of a year, (“When you go to an Art gallery you are simply a tourist looking at the trophy cabinet of a few millionaires…” Banksy).

Some of the best art is done without a thought to making money, such as Banksy’s graffiti. I want to have readers, and I didn’t write the book to make money. Some might say that just having my book out there and getting my name known is worth what I would lose monetarily. The Grateful Dead, for example, used to let people listen and trade concert tapes for free and then they made a lot of their money from their tours. I don’t have any illusions that someday I will be a well-known writer. Honestly, I don’t really give a crap how well-known or not well-known I am. I like my privacy and I’m going to write whatever I damn well please, and if that gives me an audience, so be it. If not, I’m not going to bellyache.

Yes, I sell my book. Maybe that makes me a word-whore. Mostly, I think of it as just a little token of acknowledgement that the reader is giving me for all the time and effort that I put into the book. But let’s stop raping writers by taking their books for free without their permission. Writer’s are generally a mal-adjusted bunch and don’t usually make much money from their writing anyway. Show the poor schmucks some respect. Or pity at least.

I don’t think it’s cool for folks to take my book for free without asking. Aside from being illegal, it’s just plain rude.

Edge Play X for free! A word-whore laments.

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