Some of us here have a particular affection for the British street artist Banksy. While his medium is, technically speaking, graffiti, his art has a level of subversive brilliance that it's hard to think of him as just another tagger. Cameron did a short piece on Banksy a year ago, and Wired magazine's August 2005 issue has a longer article about him. But Banksy's latest move ratchets up both the subversiveness and the brilliance of his work.
Banksy has hit the West Bank.
More specifically, Banksy has taken his art to the Palestinian side of the wall Israel is building separating the two peoples. He created nine works on the wall, ranging from an image of a hole in the wall looking onto a beach setting to a silhouette of a girl flying through the air holding balloons. The UK Guardian has images of most of the pieces; Protein° Feed has a few more. Although the work is getting quite a bit of global media attention, Banksy's website portrays interactions with both Israelis and Palestinians discomfited by the project.
Old man: You paint the wall, you make it look beautiful.
Old man: We don't want it to be beautiful, we hate this wall, go home.
Soldier: What the fuck are you doing?
Me: You'll have to wait til it's finished
Soldier (to colleagues): Safety's off.
Soldiers fired rounds in the air over his head, but Banksy wasn't arrested or otherwise detained.
Banksy describes the wall as "the ultimate activity holiday destination for graffiti writers."
Jamais, I think you've provided a great answer to Jeremy's question, "What's Culture Jamming Good For?"
I'm curious, what exactly is the great answer? To provide graffiti artists with "the ultimate activity holiday destination(s)"?
I think this example points to the ambiguity of culture jamming as a force for change. In purely practical terms, as far as I can tell, not a whole lot was achieved was it?
Zaid, thanks. You're making a good point. I'm generally skeptical of "thumb your nose" activities, so I wasn't too keen on this either at first. But what was it about Banksey's graffiti that had those Israeli soldiers so nervous? What if all kinds of people were to start "decorating" the wall?, planting flowers on it, opening little windows in it, pitching ladders over it and so on? Might that not de-legitimize the whole wretched thing? Could that help create the conditions for the eventual dismantling of the wall? I'm old enough to have been around during a lot of the Civil Rights movement. The songs were a real source of power, a big part of what was happening. Art matters.
dammit, I was writing up a 'West Banksy' post. Shakes fist... grrr.
a 'West Banksy' post
What I'd like to know is: what's he planning for the *other* side?
banksy has 'taggers' to thank for his art's high profile