|Publications : Chapters
'‘Bansky: What’s the fuss and why
does it matter?’'
in Joseph Siracusa (ed.) Humanities,
Arts, and Social Sciences: it’s everyone’s business,
(Sydney and London, Routledge, 2016).
Prankster, polemicist, painter, Banksy is arguably the world’s
most famous unknown street artist. To the press and public, the
question of Banksy’s identity is more intriguing than the
legitimacy of his work and the price that celebrities, dealers and
other wealthy patrons are prepared to pay for it. His greatest triumph
has been his ability to keep that identity swathed in mystery, even
though the artist’s name is said to be in the public domain
beyond all reasonable doubt, readily available on Wikipedia and
subject to myriad press revelations in the past five years.
Anonymity is less important than the impact of his art, which is
more than likely created, fabricated and situated by a group of
collaborators. For this reason alone Banksy might best be understood
as a ‘he’, ‘she’ or even ‘they’,
but for all intents and purposes Banksy is widely-held to be a white
male, now in his early to mid-forties, born in Bristol, western
England and brought up in a stable middle class family, a pupil
from a private cathedral school and a one-time goalkeeper in the
infamous Sunday soccer team The Easton Cowboys. At least that is
what we think we know. These are the known unknowns.
Notoriously cryptic, darkly humourous, Banksy is a global phenomenon,
a personality without a persona, a criminal without a record, and
a paradox within the world of art. The New Yorker described how
Banksy tries to flip ‘off the art world...[and begs] it to
notice him at the same time.’For his part he has described
that same world as ‘the biggest joke going...a rest home for
the overprivileged, the pretentious, and the weak’….