He’s here folks – the mysterious international graffiti artist of mystery has come to Russia!
Street art, graffiti and other such hooligan-creativity was once the preserve of the seediest suburbs of, say, New York and London. Today, it’s on show even in the Central Artist’s House exhibition hall just opposite Gorky Park in Moscow, shocking the Russian public in all its avant-garde satirical edginess.
Yes, the Banksy exhibition is running for four months – from June 2 to September 2; so if you’re in the capital over summer, here’s a mandatory must-see for your calendar and all the calendars of everyone you know. For this is not to be missed – by anyone!
Meanwhile, I can’t choose which photo to show you first in this here blogpost. They’re all just so special and individual in their own way. It’s like when someone asks you what your fave song of your fave band is – you can’t really give a proper answer as you like so many! Ok, first photo… it’ll just have to be the first one I took:
Ok, so who is Banksy?
No one apart from himself/themselves // and the police! // really knows. Ok, there are bound to be a few folks know – but they’re all keeping stum about any real identity/ies. I give the plural too as there is a theory that it’s more than one individual – a collective of now probably very rich street artists.
So who are you, Mr. Banks?
Actually, and I don’t know about you, but I don’t really want to know who he is / they are. That would take away the mystery, which sure does add to the whole aura of the enigmatic phenomenon that is Banksy. So, Mr. Banks – please stay anonymous! No need for one more famous face showing off to the public (as I tend to do:). Main thing, please: keep creating!…
And create he does – prolifically and ever radically.
What’s on show in Moscow, btw, are the paper originals of the stenciled works placed on walls. They could hardly bring those to Moscow ). On paper, Banksy’s works are still amazing: small pics on the internet are one thing – large originals in the flesh are another.
Modern masterpieces. Up there with works of other unconventional modern artists. Subversive, humorous, renegade. Changing how you look at the world? Maybe. Vital alternative commentary on a world gone mad? Probably ).
Penetrating insight verging on cynicism?…
Still don’t get this one…
…What the artist can always get away with: ambiguity dressed up as something else ).
Here’s one of my Banksy-faves. The phone box is real – in Cheltenham.
Social commentary. Oh those poor millennials )…
This, allegedly, is Banksy – in his workshop, allegedly.
To reiterate: here it’s mostly original sketches – or maybe copies thereof – which were used as the basis for the on-the-wall works around the world. They’re usually on paper/card, in albums and behind glass. The on-the-wall works are still out there – if they haven’t been stolen, vandalized or painted over by councils or offended and outraged citizens.
Here’s a large photo of an on-the-waller:
Can’t really see it? That’s because it’s been half-rubbed-out and painted over. Such is the harsh environment of the modern street artist today.
This may be the original or a copy. Doesn’t matter. Still ace:
Consumerism statement alert!
The ‘Politics’ hall. But surely it’s all politics?!
Next hall – ‘Protest’:
Grandmas knitting Punks Not Dead sweaters. I wonder what today’s grandmas would knit – which slogans? Life doesn’t change really – just the slogans?
Non-stop ubiquitous surveillance reigns – yet Banksy still gets his stenciling done right under its nose…
It was the UK that was the first country to openly announce that all (or nearly all) public places are watched over through CCTV. All for the common good, to keep the peace, of course ). But what if it goes too far? Has it already gone too far? Well, not as far as, say, in 1984 – yet. But who knows what’s round the corner? See – even folks like me, with a fairly middle-of-the-road outlook on life and politics, start to think about things in a different way after a large dose of Banksy. I do believe that’s a good thing.
Meanwhile, we continue…
Next up – ‘War’. Napalm girl hand in hand with Mickey and Ronald:
War. There’s always one side saying the other side’s wrong. Even if it’s a proxy war conducted from afar. The reasons are nearly always subjective – there’s always another subjective view that’s just the opposite of your ‘right’ one. Absurd. That absurdity runs through practically all Banksy’s works here in this hall.
Next hall, I’m sure by no coincidence: Love.
Congratulations to the bride and groom! But they missed most of the fun at their own wedding as the Wi-Fi was free.
If you look into the history of mankind, you find that some 40,000 years ago folks would paint or carve pictures into rocks or the walls of caves: bulls, goats and other hunted animals. Walls were painted later too – with all sorts of utilitarian art. But I think it’s graffiti that is most closely related to ancient wall paintings. Thus we had a fast-forward: from rock paintings to wall paintings.
Graffiti itself has undergone evolution. It was once simply hooliganism: scrawling scribbles on a clean stretch of wall. And it was a punishable crime. It still is in places, like my favorite Singapore, with punishments a lot more harsh than a mere fine. Meanwhile in other, more liberal countries, graffiti hasn’t just become street art, it’s now considered an object of ‘art’ proper – and is supported by the authorities. But it wasn’t always so:
We at Kaspersky Lab love Banksy. So it would have been just wrong not to have supported this event…
Graffiti gets graffitied!
Never afraid to touch sensitive topics – including the tragic death of Princess Diana:
So there you have it folks – a must-see in Moscow this summer.
And since my visit I’ve been thinking of taking a guided tour of ‘Banksy London’…
As mentioned, the exhibition runs till September 2, so those wishing to see it have plenty of time. And those not wishing to see it – I still recommend you get there: there’s a chance you’ll become stronger, and exchange some anger/hate for kindliness/love ).