13 February, 2008
Banksy, From The Mouths of Babes- "Cause & Effect" Magazine, January 2008
I can’t be bothered... With anything.
Am I grouchy? Yes. Am I bitchy? Yes. In fact, I am probably the most moody, ill-tempered person I know. I am hardened and awful. Cynical and pessimistic… But once in a while life throws these little surprises at us- and good or bad, even I am not immune to them. Just when you think it’s all said and done, and it is the way it is… You’re set in your ways… You like what you like, and you hate what you hate… Life will flip you right onto your know-it-all ass.
It needn’t always be a major event. Even the little things can make you think twice; and thinking twice can change your life.
I'm writing about my experience visiting the Banksy exhibit in Los Angeles, and the responses my children had to it. Personally, I thought it was brilliant. I loved his lighthearted but indelicate approach to some very delicate issues... It piqued my curiosity and interest in this elusive fellow, and the more I learned about him, the more I liked him. And the more I liked his art…
“We are learning that the people we trust with our liberty cannot be trusted.”
Wow! That’s EXACTLY how I feel, Mr. Banks!
“The time of getting fame for your name on its own is over. Artwork that is only about wanting to be famous will never make you famous. Any fame is a by-product of making something that means something. You don’t go to a restaurant and order a meal because you want to have a shit.”
GENIUS, sir! And the man is funny!
But UGH!!! Am I just hopping on the Banksy bandwagon? I can’t handle that. I can’t be bothered with that… That’s enough to make me give up on Banksy altogether. Which wouldn’t make any difference to anyone, anyway. Except that I love that my kids got a chance to see this show, and that because I had an interest in him- they learned something about profundity and moral accountability. Even if they’re oblivious to it- their eyes were opened and it made them THINK. They asked me some pretty interesting questions about the art they saw there- some that I had difficulty in answering, and those are the BEST. My flipped-on-ass experience this month was really a gift.
I’ve always encouraged my children to think twice, think for themselves, and think as big as possible. I want them to be successful, smart and kind, it’s really important to me. And though I will always love and support my children in whatever path they choose, I’ve had a semi-plan in mind for them. But I’m realizing that success comes in many forms. That was my lesson.
A graffiti artist is not automatically a vandal; he has the opportunity to make himself a messenger. And though I want to contribute two empathetic and thoughtful people to this world, I’ve realized recently that I also want them to break rules, break boundaries and question authority. Even if mine is the authority in question... Maybe. And I really hope that Banksy’s parents (whomever they are) are very, very proud of their son.
Our last minute trip to Los Angeles
for the (now infamous) “Barely Legal” show, by British artist, Banksy was everything we expected And worse... It was chaotic. An urbane zoo, and media circus- complete with elephant!
38 year old “Tai”, was the highlight of the trip for my four and six year old children. Their opinions of her affected moreso by her “looooooooong eyelashes” and “soooooo cuuuuute pink color”, than the uproar she was causing among animal rights activists.
For the record, the paint used on her skin was non-toxic and she spent the majority of her time in a comfortable area behind the warehouse, only coming in for a short while at a time to stand in Banksy’s “living room”. In fact, we waited about 45 minutes to finally catch a glimpse. She was brought in, and offered an obscene amounts of carrots to munch on. She was by far, the main attraction, and stood oblivious to the scandal surrounding her.
Tai was taken home to her ranch each night, and on the third and final day of the show, by order of Los Angeles animal control, she lost her pretty pink paint job. No bother, Banksy’s “elephant in the room” had long since made its point. She represented “a problem we never talk about”, his politically charged theme of global injustice and social oppression. One rather large piece, in particular summed it all up quite nicely… Picnic”, featuring a white family picnicking oblivious to the 15 starving Africans around them, aptly took up an entire wall and could probably be considered a second “elephant in the room”. Angelina Jolie purchased this piece for $226,000; I won’t even comment on the irony in that- but I’m sure the artist is laughing all the way to the bank.
My four year old daughter had this to say about it:
“It’s sad ‘cos the babies don’t have food. I’m mad because those people aren’t sharing, ‘cos I don’t like people that don’t share. ‘Cos that’s mean. ‘Cos I love babies.”
Another piece, featuring Neolithic plains people throwing spears at some strikingly misplaced shopping carts; had a similar affect upon my six year old son:
“Sad because they don’t have food in their shopping carts.”
One of my very favorites was a piece featuring a series
of Blackhawk helicopters topped off with purdy pink bows…
For me, it represented the misguided intentions of war, and the neat little packages they wrap it in. Feeding us cyanide laced cake… It represents perfectly, Banky’s ability to send a politically charged message in a whimsical and humorous way. It’s a powerful practice in that it insights political commentary, and questions among those who may not otherwise have been aware… I like what he’s doing. I can appreciate anything that carries an opinion, and I respect his. According to my four year old, the group of helicopters were:
“A family, and they’re leaving a junk place and going to a new place; ‘cos there was rubbish there, and yucky people."
I completely agree.
“He’s gonna hit a bad person with flowers so bees will sting them. ‘Cos bad people don’t like it when they get stinged.”
“They’re Hawaiian kids and they’re standing on a car with a flag, ‘cos they wanna be like American kids. Isn’t it cool that I know everything about these pictures…?!”