Thursday, 3 September 2009

Banks for Nothing

Art? Not according to Hackney Council.

So the Banks are in trouble again. This time it's the far more popular, but equally faceless artist Banksy. His cartoon of the Royal Family waving on a balcony, which was once used on a Blur single cover, has been painted over.

This is not the first time something like this has happened. One of his other works was painted over, simply because NOT removing it would be condoning graffiti.

The decision, made by Hackney council, stinks of passing the buck. At some point, somewhere along the command chain, someone said that Banksy's work is not art, which is a valid point of view (however wrong it may be). From that point onwards people started saying things like this:

"Hackney council does not make a judgment call on whether graffiti is art or not, our task is to keep Hackney's streets clean. We made four attempts to contact the owner of the property to inform her of our intention to remove the graffiti" (Alan "pass the buck" Laing, the Hackney council cabinet member).

The fact is though Alan, you HAVE made a judgement - you called it "graffiti" the above quote, and more importantly you removed the bloody painting. Even when it is put in councillor speak the decision makes no sense - The piece is estimated to have brought in £10,000,000 to the local area and attracted 300,000 visitors in the last 3 months. How many pieces of graffiti do that, and how many are as artistically styled or culturally astute as Bansky's efforts?

There will always be arguments about what is art and what is not, but this occurs all the time in art galleries and those that lose the battle aren't painted over or dismantled. Graffiti is an anti-establishment activity, and thus the harder you suppress it the more people will attempt to undermine the laws and do it anyway. Instead, show that artistically integrous painting, in suitable places, will be accepted with open arms.

Will it cure the problem? Hell no, but it might eventually improve upon the countless "Trevor luvs Sharon" spatterings that blight our walls. Trevor will just have to tell Sharon in a text.

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