Banksy in Toronto? Simon says
And there it is: Simon Cole of Show & Tell Gallery says that Banksy, the quasi-infamous/semi-sellout British street artist, has made his first works here in Toronto -- and within days of the release of his film, Exit Through the Gift Shop. Imagine that.
In recent years, Banksy has gone from anonymous socially-conscious public prankster to a major industry; the film is just the latest in a string of money-making hype vehicles -- if you saw his museum show in his home town of Bristol, you'd know what I mean; far from public interventions, his stock in trade, this was a bloated display of gruesome cartoon nonsense, complete with animatronics. And of course, he's made millions selling pieces to the rich and famous for years.
Not that there's anything wrong with that; art's a part of consumer culture as much as any product, culture or otherwise. But coming from a culture meant to reject all that, with anonymous interventions into the urban fabric, it seems a little hypocritical. But what do I know.
Cole, someone who does -- something of a street art expert, Cole represents such local luminaries as Dan Bergeron, aka Faux Reel, and Specter -- says both on his blog and on Facebook that the Banksy pieces are authentic, which follows logic, given his promo tour for the film bringing him here last week. These pieces are strictly old school, which is great; maybe we'll even get cages built around them, like in Bristol, as important cultural artifacts. If the graffiti patrol doesn't get to them first.
BTW: This is CONFIRMED to be Banksy's work by his PR agent, who requests that she remain anonymous. Or it's an even more elaborate prank. But given the movie release, it's hard to imagine. This is the hype machine at full speed.
AND: The Turner Prize shortlist was announced last week, and Banksy fans will be disappointed that he's not on it, despite some very public support on his behalf by one of the judges, the Guardian says.
AND, PT. 2: Word is that at least one of the Banksy works has been removed. I don't have a photo and would never steal theirs, so check out Torontoist for the visual.
Photo by Gary Smithson via Show & Tell