Thursday, June 25, 2009

WARS of VAPID OUTRAGE: Street Art in Bristol

Face it: Defiance starts to look very silly once it's sponsored, once the monied world is paying you to do, in broad daylight, those cute little tricks you used to have to do in the dark.

And by the time your every fart is perfume to the auction houses, you really have to give it up, don't you? You really have to 'fess to the elephantine fact you're no longer an angry young man giving voice to the outrage of the masses.

Which is why art critics find it crucial to poke fun at Banksy, who still poses as a bad boy despite the now complete embrace of every canonized institution. And which is also why misguided wanna-be revolutionary groups like Appropriate Media aspire to tag Banksy's city maintaingd Stokes Croft artwork. Banksy's become an easy mark (ahem).

Here's a funny timeline. I don't know if you'll find it as immediately satisfying as I did, but I will type it out here for your possible entertainment, if not enlightenment:

June, 2007: The Banksy mural entitled "The Mild Mild West" is voted "Briistol's Favourite Alternative Landmark" in a 2007 online poll

June 4, 2007: a proposal for a Park Street atrium in the Stokes Croft developement area of Briistol in which the Banksy work , "The Mild Mild West" would be encased in glass. The Atrium plans seem to have been stalled, and the work was never honored with a glass case of it's own.

Jan 16, 2008: BBC online posts an article informing readers about how to spot a "real" Banksy and pretending to know how street artists show "respect" by not tagging over other works.

Early April, 2009: Appropriate Media, protesting the gentrification of the Stokes Croft area of Bristol sprays arching, dripping red lines across "The Mild Mild West." and takes credit for it on their (now defunct) website.

Calling the Banksy work a "masterpiss" an Appropriate Media announcement, now located on on, stated:

"Graffiti artists are the copywriters for the capitalist created phenomenon of urban art.
Graffiti artists are the performing spray-can monkeys for gentrification."

It is immediately cleaned up by area developers who state that they can't imagine what Appropriate Media means by their statements.

June 24, 2009: In the face of an upcoming Banksy show at the Bristol City Museum and Art Gallery, the mural is again attacked, this time with blue paint.

One of the funniest things about the series of articles and blog posts which follow these "attacks" is that the media will call Banksy's art, a "mural". Back in 2008, when the BBC picked up on the cool new artist, they described his stuff as "guerilla art" and spoke knowingly about street artists who, out of respect, would never tag over another artist's' work. Now Appropriate Media are said to have "vandalized" Banksy's "mural." BTW: they claim they have created "alternate versions."