by Ashraf Nisfudin
He is an artist famous for working in the streets, painting, with the help of stencils, images of kissing coppers, cheeky rats and flower-throwing anarchists on walls all over the globe. Banksy is no stranger to the art world.
On October 5th 2018, at a Sotheby’s auction in London, Banksy absolutely broke the internet with news regarding his art piece ‘that Girl with a Balloon’, a work by Banksy created in 2006. Just minutes after it was sold for $1.5 Million USD, the artwork had self destruct as the frame of the piece was actually a built in shredder that Banksy had made prior to it getting displayed in the gallery.
As Banksy is well known for street art, Sotheby’s was selling a finely framed version of one of his most famous graffiti images and literally domesticating his art by turning it into a luxury painting, a modern Mona Lisa.
Banksy is an unknown individual in terms of his identity. He has never displayed his face publicly. Some may claim that there is actually more than one person representing the name. After a man dressed in black sporting sunglasses and a hat was seen scuffling with security guards near the entrance to Sotheby’s shortly after the incident, speculation mounted that the elusive artist had himself pressed the button that destroyed the work.
The sassy and slick smart alecs who are claiming that all Banksy has done is add value to his work are the latest in a long line of art-world insiders who have turned dissidence into art history.
Joey Syer, an online art broker claims that the auction result will only propel [Banksy’s prices] further and given the media attention this stunt has received, the lucky buyer would see a great return on the $1.5 Million they paid. This is now part of art history in its shredded state and we’d estimate Banksy has added, at a minimum, 50% to its value, possibly as high as being worth £2m-plus.
(images shows imitations of the “Banksy Shred” published days after the stunt)
Auto-destructive art is one of the hardest acts for the commercial art world to assimilate as it is a lifelong refusal to be part of the capitalist system. For once, an artist has genuinely pissed all over the system that reduces art to nothing but a commodity.