Had I just seen the first story, there would have been a different take on this, but juxtaposed with another story that also appeared today, it raises far more questions.
The first case is not the first time that Bristolian street artist Banksy has become the topic of this website. In the previous instance, the controversy involved the owner of a wall removing the artwork that had appeared on it one night. The local residents complained, even drawing parallels to the Parthenon Marbles. While the case raised other issues though, the person who did the removing had a legal entitlement to do so, as it was their own wall.
This case however is a clear cut instance of Elginism. The person who removed it is claiming that they had a right to do so because it was in a public place, but now they are claiming it as their own & planning on selling it to raise money. I’m not sure in what way this can not be construed as theft. If don’t own something & you take it, the law is fairly clear cut that this constitutes theft.
However, the second article raises the question of what is vandalism. Since a few years before the start of the financial crisis, the levels of graffiti on walls in Athens has massively increased. Walls that were once pristine & respected have become noticeboards of conflicting political ideologies & poorly thought out solutions to the problem. Many of these are vandalism plain & simple, but they have none the less been documented by people, as one of the most indelible records of the change in the city as the crisis took hold. Now, the social messages in some of the better executed pieces are being analysed further – the works have in effect crossed the same boundary that Banksy did, where vandalism becomes art.
Now – it is worth pointing out that this is a very fuzzy boundary. For some people, it is clearly art, while others continue to maintain the view that the perpetrators should be prosecuted. It is intriguing though how this boundary shifts – Other than his fame / notoriety as an individual, what defines the artistic merit in Banksy’s work that makes people angry when it is destroyed, versus the works of a barely known Greek protester that are routinely scrubbed from walls by municipal workers?
“Access Control,” a mural by the Greek street artist iNO on Pireos Street in Athens
New Banksy art ‘Mobile Lovers’ removed with crowbar, hoarded in youth club
Wednesday 16 April 2014
Banksy’s latest official artwork, being dubbed ‘Mobile Lovers’, has been prized off a Bristol wall by an opportunistic local with a crowbar.
Broad Plain Boys Club manager Dennis Stinchcombe removed the image of a man and a woman distracted by their smartphones from Clement Street, believed to be on plywood, and hopes to sell it for hundreds of thousands of pounds.
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