Saturday, September 16, 2006
I heart Banksy
Who's the cleverest, coolest cat to currently have an art exhibit up in the City of Angels? That'd be Banksy, baby. My new crush, which means he unseats Reza Azlan in that role.
Banksy, who I just recently discovered via someone's blog post about his Paris Hilton CD project (search it at YouTube.com), is a British street artist/social provocateur who likes to make his mark in unexpected, status quo nose-thumbing ways. For instance, he's been know to smuggle his own art into internationally renowned museums and display it--right under the security guards' noses.
His exhibit in L.A. only runs three days (9/15-18). There's only a street name posted on his web site to locate it. There's no admission charge and cameras are welcome (although spray paint and markers are not). Inside a hollow warehouse are around 50 pieces of art, humorously and pointedly holding up a mirror to society's foolishness and cruelty.
For me, the highlight of the show was live elephant decorated with a lovely red and gold wallpaper pattern. It was just so absurd and surreal to see this wrinkled, painted pachyderm being ogled by all these hipster artsy types with their sebaceous scalps and stretched out t-shirts. I had to laugh when I overheard one skinny, short specimen of this ilk chatting on his cell phone with this commentary on the event: "There aren't many hot guys here." (Poor baby. Wouldn't want a socially aware art show to act as a cock blocker for the laddy, now would we?).
The living, breathing, hay-eating elephant was the embodiment of the show's theme:
"There is an elephant in the room. There's a problem we never talk about. The fact that life isn't getting any fairer. 1.7 billion people have no access to clean drinking water. 20 billion people live below the poverty line. Every day hundreds of people are made to feel physically sick by morons at art shows telling them how bad the world is, but never actually doing something about it. Anybody want a free glass of wine?"
I admire Banksy's chutzpah. I applaud his cause. I enjoy his humor (quoted from an L.A. Weekly article):
"This show has been quite an undertaking for me; it represents nearly a month of getting up early in the morning. Some of the paintings have taken literally days to make. Essentially, it's about what a horrible place the world is, how unjust and cruel and pointless life is, and ways to avoid thinking about all that. One of the best ways turned out to be sitting in a warehouse making 50 paintings about cruelty, pain and pointlessness. You get immune. I painted one picture of a Western family eating a picnic in a village of starving African children called I HATE EATING MY DINNER IN FRONT OF THE NEWS, and got so obsessed with painting each and every fly on those kids' faces, I never once thought about a starving kid for a second. I guess the show is about wanting to make the world a better place whilst not wanting to come across like a jerk. Imagine what would happen if we took all the money we spent on weapons and gave it to the poor. Then I'd have to grow my own cocaine; my manicurist would kill me."
Thanks to C-girl for being the first to clue me into the event and thanks to S-girl for The New York Times link about the exhibit.
To see more of Banksy's work, visit his site. The image displayed on this linked page was my favorite in the show. I interpreted it as an Iwo Jima-meets-Detroit commentary on the neglected war against poverty. But that's just me.
Here's to the brilliance of Banksy. The world could use more geezers like him.