Hey guys, Banksy's in town doing that month-long, open-air art show that you've been reading about here and everywhere—this is a really fun, well done, free, street art scavenger hunt so just try to enjoy it. A new piece is going up every day, and Banksy has been lurking in the shadows amongst us this whole time (or working under tarps just before dawn to get the pieces up)—but until now, no one's heard from him.
The man of mystery (who is maybe a woman? QUESTION EVERYTHING) just did a very rare interview with the Village Voice. Here's what we learned:
THIS MONTH LONG SHOW IS ... FOR FUN (As It Should Be): "There is absolutely no reason for doing this show at all. I know street art can feel increasingly like the marketing wing of an art career, so I wanted to make some art without the price tag attached. There's no gallery show or book or film. It's pointless. Which hopefully means something."
BANKSY LIVES HERE (FOR) NOW: He won't say where obviously, but so far all of his pieces have been downtown or in Brooklyn.
SPOTS ARE PICKED ON A WHIM: While there was a plan to use specific spots, which were scouted out months ago, some of the city's streetscape had already changed by the time Banksy was ready to start the show. So now "the plan is to live here, react to things, see the sights—and paint on them. Some of it will be pretty elaborate, and some will just be a scrawl on a toilet wall." And the pieces aren't totally premeditated either: "To be honest... I'm figuring a lot of this out as I go along. Which is one way to keep it fresh, I suppose. The idea to make a stencil saying 'The Musical' only came up when I saw the 'Occupy' graffiti."
HE'S NOT SELF-DISSING: While some think Banksy ruins his own pieces, he says, "I'm not defacing my own pictures, no. I used to think other graffiti writers hated me because I used stencils, but they just hate me." Most of his pieces here have been immediately tagged or buffed. This morning a reader sent us this photo of his Red Hook piece, which has now been plexiglassed... sadly, after Omar tagged it:
ON "SELLING OUT": "I started painting on the street because it was the only venue that would give me a show. Now I have to keep painting on the street to prove to myself it wasn't a cynical plan. There's no way round it—commercial success is a mark of failure for a graffiti artist. We're not supposed to be embraced in that way. When you look at how society rewards so many of the wrong people, it's hard not to view financial reimbursement as a badge of self-serving mediocrity." (He goes more in depth about this in the interview.)
ON NEW YORK CITY: "New York calls to graffiti writers like a dirty old lighthouse. We all want to prove ourselves here. I chose it for the high foot traffic and the amount of hiding places. Maybe I should be somewhere more relevant, like Beijing or Moscow, but the pizza isn't as good."