Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Bansky With a New Tag

Banksy has tagged this on the side of a school. It has garnered much attention, especially since it's on the side of a school. Does that make it all right? What does it even mean? A child playing a child's game, but with a known tool for the wretched of the earth. Well, I don't mean to be so dramatic, but burning tires have been used by insurgents and people fighting established powers to decrease visibility and to block roadways.

What then could it possibly mean? Could it be that merely that juxtaposition of the tool of the rebel and the games of a child are meant to evoke some thought? Remove the children from their tranquil school? I'm all for people helping raise consciousness among the population, but is this going too far?

Still, the main point about the entire piece is that it rests on some level of ambiguity. I've mentioned my artist friend who's reaching out to newer things to upend the status quo as it is. She too painted next to a school. This one a factory for the bourgeoisie of a certain city on the West coast. 

But she painted nothing ambiguous. The entire school was dosed in paint. Walls had been made to look like bullet holes or bombs had hit, and on trees, with blue backgrounds, drones had been painted [1] to look like they were coming overhead. The stencils of children running and soldiers and other weaponry of post-industrial armies. Behind them were the usual platitudes that precede war. You know, talk about freedom and terrorists. 

On some walls were specific instances of such propaganda and the ensuing mass murder: Laos, Vietnam, Central America and so on. Even I had to admit that it was well done.

The parents bandied together and painted over the offending graffiti with white paint. They also somehow framed themselves as victims in the media.  The mob that followed was as could be expected. Being that this was a school for the wealthy, or the powerful, the people soon had the Justice department looking for her under some odd reading of the Patriot act. She left the country. 

My only wonder is if any of the students took a look at the painting and decided to change their trajectory in life. Doubt it. Brings up that timeless question. What is art? Or rather, what is art for? Can it effect change in the world?



[1] Inaccurate, right? No one can see drones.


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