Friday, March 30, 2007
High-flying artist? Man of the streets? Whoever Banksy wants to be, he’s keeping it a secret for now.
By James Gaddy
Banksy, the most famous street artist alive, is waffling. I don’t realize this until I’m flying back to JFK from LAX, suspended in the air somewhere over the Ozarks. I had gone out to L.A. to see “Barely Legal,” his first major U.S. show, where I was hoping to find him, talk, and try to understand his appealing mystique. (And hey, maybe cut some stencils together.) I was curious to see what Banksy, an artist who is himself suspended in midair between cult figure and bona fide star, would have to offer this time. What would he do next?
But let’s start with the headlines, because for many, that’s where he begins and ends. “Animals Sprayed by Graffiti Artist,” BBC News declared in July 2003. The report claimed that a young man, whose real name was Robin Banks, had tagged a cadre of pigs, cows, and sheep, enraging the local animal-rights activists (and farmers). He had already sneaked into the London Zoo and sprayed “We’re bored of fish” in the penguin cages. In October 2003, “Graffiti Star Sneaks Work Into Tate,” sang the BBC headlines. Having stenciled “Mind the Crap” on the steps of the Tate Modern in time for the 2002 Turner Prize ceremony, Banksy had gotten inside this time. “I thought my work belonged in there and I got tired of waiting,” he had said. In July 2004, the London Evening Standard published his photo and identified him as Robert Banks, from East Bristol. But the photos were never fully verified.
Click here to read the rest of the article.