Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Art outside of the Museum

If you haven't heard of it before, it's called "culture-jamming", and it's one of the more fascinating arts emerging in culture today. Above, you'll find a lovely little painting that has had a habit of popping up in art galleries or within the halls of large-scale media headquarters. To the left, you'll see one of a fine example: a "remixed" version of Paris Hilton's last album...just a glimpse at the front cover, and one can immediately tell that there's a noticable difference in the attitude generated. Over 500 copies of these CDs were covertly distributed through music shops across London.

There's no need for longer introduction, as the man behind this elaborate prank is possible the greatest culture-jammer in the known world, whose identity has yet to been uncovered: Banksy

He is a world-renowned artist whose mysterious origins began with in the early 2000's with recognizable graffiti stencils in the United Kingdom. His exploits have grown across oceans. His work can be seen in London, Edinburgh, Madrid, New York, the West Bank barrier, Mexico, Los Angeles, and Disneyland.

There's not much for me to say about this artist except that I find what he has to do rather incredibly amusing and moving. His use of a "real world" canvas is truly unique, in that he hadn't received permission to make his mark. Even more enjoyable are the messages that his art leaves upon it's viewer, and whether they be dreadful or simply humorous. Police hate him, but his use of quick-draw stencils and late night painting has left him practically undetectable.

As much a fan as I am of Banksy and the whole "culture-jamming" movement, I would certainly hope that this sort of art remains outside the clutches of the commerical realm as long as possible. As any quick-thinking marketer will tell you, subversion can be a fantastic advertising theme: There's a large market of people who'd like to think that buy buying a product, they are circumventing the tightly-regulated system of society (i.e. Sprite). Even more depressing is the fact that someday, it could be extremely difficult to tell whether there is a real human message in such efforts, or if it's all just a ploy to get it's viewers to buy or live in accordance to a corporation.

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