Image via Banksy: Genius or Vandal?
New York, Los Angeles, and Brussels currently play host to an exhibition titled Banksy: Genius or Vandal?. It promises more than 80 authentic art pieces by the mysterious artist, whose work has positioned him among the top ranks of the art world.
Its website states that the exhibition, “as all that have been previously dedicated to Banksy, is not authorized by the artist, who remains anonymous and independent from the system.”
Organized alongside notable Banksy dealer Andrew Lilley, who provided most of the works for the exhibition “from private European collections,” the event invites visitors to take part in a “multisensory artistic immersion” via virtual reality (VR).
This 10-minute VR show comes alongside other tactile offerings, such as a recreation of the artist’s studio as shown in Exit Through the Gift Shop, a mockumentary made in 2010.
This innovative tribute exhibition has been ongoing for a few years now, but it has never been approved by the artist himself. In fact, he’s expressed disdain at these antics.
In particular, in response to the show hitting Moscow in 2018, he scowled in an Instagram post: “I wish I could find it funny. What’s the opposite of LOL?”
In a screenshot of a text conversation with an unknown party who tipped him off, Banksy is quoted to retort “I don’t charge people to see my art unless there’s a fairground wheel” in response to admission tickets costing £20 (US$27.70).
The comments section is filled with people expressing dismay that they attended a “fake” show without knowing. As Instagram user znineteen states, “I went to the one in Atlanta recently and enjoyed seeing the art, but if Banksy wasn’t involved with it then I am pissed I supported something like this.”
In New York, the presentation was reported to cost US$29.90 to get in. This didn’t thwart people from going, though; Artnet News notes that the show has had more than three million visitors in around 15 cities.
Whether Banksy will take action against this show is uncertain, but the artist does note the irony of the situation in his Instagram post. “Not sure I’m the best person to complain about people putting up pictures without getting permission.”