I don’t know if anyone is following British graffiti artist Banksy’s one-month “residency” in New York City – I wouldn’t blame you if you didn’t – but it’s got me thinking about how art becomes “art” and classifying adaptations. Banksy’s been releasing pieces (usually one a-night) in undisclosed locations in the city and it’s become a kind of Urban Outfitter’s Where’s Waldo race against time to find these pieces before they’re “defaced”. Yes, local graffito artists are defacing, or perhaps re-facing, Banksy’s original pieces (which are NOT considered defacings), and galvanization occurs. I’ve read/heard several heated arguments about how Banksy, with his pithy and “challenging” pieces, is a real artist, and the myriad competing taggers are simply vulgar opportunists, but I could also see how the second-degree graffiti can become a kind of challenge, piggy-backing, or engaging with the more famous, foreign Banksy who has claimed his/her motivations for coming to New York as an attempt to re-capture the “danger” of Banksy’s original work. But Mayor Bloomberg also weighed in, claiming that any kind of public defacing is evidence of urban decay, or that “maybe” Banksy is an artist, but this art should not be permitted.
Here’s the original Banksy’s: http://banksystreetart.tumblr.com/
And here are some examples of how they have been defaced (a kind of second-degree defacing): http://www.cbc.ca/newsblogs/yourcommunity/2013/10/banksy-art-defacing-in-new-york-city-provokes-graffiti-war.html
The Mayor’s ingenious art criticism (I’m thinking along the lines of “I can’t define pornography but I know it when I see it”): http://www.nbcnewyork.com/news/local/Banksy-Graffiti-NYC-Mayor-Bloomberg-Art-228045431.html
Banksy’s residency has also brought up some interesting social issues, as evidenced when several East New Yorkers discovered a Banksy piece and decided they could profit off it by covering it up with cardboard and charging admission. They argued that most Manhattanites and Brookliners who were coming to see the work didn’t normally give a damn about this neighborhood, and so if outsiders wanted to participate they had to pay. Here’s an article with a video in which one of the art-guardians asks what the art-work is “worth”? Amazing. http://gothamist.com/2013/10/10/video_things_are_getting_interestin.php#photo-1