The Banksy Vote Meme Spreads

Seems the ‘council’s holding votes on Banksy pieces’ idea is spreading, this time to the London Borough of Sutton, article with photo here. A bit less sophisticated than the technology Bristol used a few years back, just an email address to send your comments to, but none the less unrepresentative for that.

On the one hand, hoorah. People are getting involved, power to the people, blah blah blah.

On the other hand, there’s just no clarity at all about what’s going on here. If this was a genuine exercise in democracy and public opinion, then surely things would be set out a bit more clearly. Quite apart from whether you agree with the council’s statement about ‘mindless tagging’ (when generally tagging does have a mind behind it, just not one some people agree with), what criteria has been used to select this particular piece for public vote? Since they’ve dubbed it ‘work such as this’ in contrast to ‘mindless tagging’, the criteria doesn’t seem to be particularly sophisticated.

In effect, it just looks like a council that’s running scared of a PR disaster now Banksy’s ‘famous’, but at the same time one that’s unprepared to look at all the other elements of the graf culture, why it happens, what people support and don’t support on a much wider scale.

Ironic in a way, given the piece itself seems to be taking the piss out of the unthinking ‘out of the box’ approach to graf that’s spread so far over the last few years. An unthinking and confused response to a piece about being unthinking and confused. How postmodern.

3 Comments

Filed under Abroad, Banksy

3 responses to “The Banksy Vote Meme Spreads

  1. DLZ

    its all a bit absurd. i take it the debates about whether Banksy’s stuff is art, and whether the public should be consulted or not, have been resolved in the minds of councils up and down the land now?

    the only criteria that i can intuit, if you will, in this case and in the public debate about the preservation of street art in general, is that the artist should have either a social conscience, the odd satirical observation, a moralist agenda, or the ‘X Factor’ upon which any work of art succeeds or fails in the mind of Joe Public in the early 21st Century: “IT MAKES YOU THINK”

    i can’t figure out how important aesthetics are to most people because nowadays everyone has been conditioned to look for hidden meanings, challenges, and so forth when confronted with a Work Of Art. maybe that’s why Banksy’s novelties are so successful? a can of worms for another day…

    so it also helps if the ‘meaning’ or ‘message’ in the work is so clunkingly obvious that the average tabloid-reading oik can grasp it within a few seconds. which i suppose is fair enough, and anyway most graffiti writers and street artists use the basic techniques of advertising and cartoon illustration (as you know, more often than not they merely advertise the nickname of their alter ego – a tragically stupid waste of time if you ask me.) i think the public are more than capable of appraising this simple artform, however clouded in bravado and mystery it supposedly is.

    thats just the general public. obviously we art lovers can be more concise about what we value in a work of art – as demonstrated in the aftermath of the Mild Mild West defacement – but unfortunately we have to accept that, as art lovers, no one gives a crap about our opinions 🙂

  2. Butch Franker

    So the art of masting the letterform is a tragic waste of time? I think there is a whole movement of artists who could take issue with that…

    The graffiti scene was of course built on people advertising the nickname of their alter-ego – your quote about using the basic techniques of advertising is very accurate. By doing this time and time again the advert works – it serves its perpose, people begin to recognise the name. That is the whole point of doing it – so YOU recognise the name. Love it, hate it. It doesnt matter. You know the name. And that is why it is not a waste of time – the artists goal has been achieved, to gain recognition.

    • DLZ

      I didn’t claim that mastering the letterform is a waste of time. I think people have been doing that in this part of the world since the 8th century (Lindisfarne Gospels) and refining Carolingian script – what you and I would recognise as an early version of A,B,C, etc – since the time of Charlemagne about a hundred years later. talk about old skool kings of style!

      ‘recognition’, or fame for fame’s sake, however, is a feeble goal for any group of people, artists or otherwise. your contemporary kindred spirits like Paris Hilton, Jordan, Kerry Katona et al, can probably only dream of possessing such fundamentalist levels of devotion to Fame – at least they whore themselves partly because of a need to put a roof over their heads.

      it is ironic to me that a art movement should labour under the illusion that it is going against the grain of modern society and yet the main goal of it’s practitioners – ‘Fame’ – could not be more mainstream and banal. you don’t seem to be rejecting the American Dream but actually embracing it with both hands.

      graffiti is actually only outside society in the sense that it contributes nothing lasting to it and is a drain on resources.

      a further irony is that many people within the graffiti soap opera wish to cement it’s legacy using two of the traditional forms of civilisation: books and fine art. I might have some respect for your heroic struggle for ‘recognition’ if you turned the tables around: instead of trying to elevate this folk art into fine art by transferring your scribbles onto a few canvasses, and recording the thoughts of your alter egos in hardback books, how about bringing the ‘high brow’ ideals into graffiti on walls and having your dynamic personas convey their thoughts in spray paint on the streets? aren’t canvasses and coffee table books a bit old hat to you lot, not to mention anathema to graffiti itself?

      mere will and creative energy are not enough. the ‘spirit’ of man is nowhere to be found within graffiti art. historians will probably look back on it as a curious cul-de-sac within Pop Art. as for the tagged nicknames, they were meaningless to begin with.

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