"There is absolutely no reason for doing this show at all,” he told the Voice. “I know street art can feel increasingly like the marketing wing of an art career, so I wanted to make some art without the price tag attached. There's no gallery show or book or film. It's pointless. Which hopefully means something.” —Banksy to the Village Voice
For the past month of October 2013, street artist Banksy hosted a residency on the streets of New York. During this time, he put up one new piece every day, joined Instagram to share them, stressed out the NYPD, and exposed a strong divide between the Banksy fans and haters.
Banksy may be leaving New York now that October has come and gone (or maybe he's not?), but we don't want to forget the questions he raised, the social aspects he made us rethink, and the laughs he provided. Relive the month with this Timeline of Every Piece From Banksy's "Better Out Than In" New York Residency.
Date: Oct. 5, 2013
Location: Touring New York at dusk (it was at 139 2nd Avenue in the East Village on the first night)
Key developments: This truck was the street artist's first undestroyed piece in New York; Someone attempted to attach a tracking device to the truck
For the 5th installation of his month-long residency, Banksy created a magical landscape in the back of a truck that traveled around the city, providing a brief, lush escape contrasting the overwhelming urban landscape of New York. The miniature landscape included a working waterfall, a rainbow, and butterflies. The piece also had the phone number for the 3rd part of the audio-guided tour. The hilarious voice-over provided an excellent satire of the stereotypical pretentious art community.
While pranks like attaching a tracking device to the truck were expected, Banksy catching and calling out the culprit on his website was not. He provided an image of the device with the text, "Please note: If you're the person who stuck a tracking device on the garden truck you're now following a car service in Queens."
Date: Oct. 6, 2013
Key developments: People on YouTube discovered that the audio came from a video showing footage of Syrian rebel terrorists launching missiles
On October 6, Banksy posted a video to his website instead of putting art out on the streets. The video is titled Rebel Rocket Attack and shows rebels shooting missile weapons into the sky and yelling "Allahu Akbar." Suddenly, they start running as something comes towards them and lands (presumably what they succeeded in shooting), which ends up being the Disney animated character, Dumbo. Banksy posted a clip of this video to his Instagram, captioned with, "I'm not posting any pictures today. Not after this shocking footage has emerged. Go to banksy.co.uk for the full video."
Fans came up with different theories about what the footage means. Some thought that the appearance of Dumbo references DUMBO, the part of Brooklyn "Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass." Others thought that the piece is a specific reference to terrorism in Syria, or a social critique about terrorism and rebellion in general. Banksy has been known to use elephants before to comment on the water crisis and poverty (the live, painted elephant at his Los Angeles exhibition in September 2006 and the text painted on a heavily discussed water tank in LA reading "This Looks A Bit Like an Elephant"). The video art could also be a comment on animal violence, similar to his 2008 New York exhibition, "Village Pet Store and Charcoal Grill."
Date: Oct. 10, 2013
Location: Bradford and Pitkin (Brooklyn)
Key developments: Some opportunist Brooklynites decided to hide the piece and collect $20 from any person who wanted to see or take a picture of it; The beaver's face was chiseled off and a message was left in its place
October 10's piece showed a beaver appearing to have taken down an existing sign. Interestinlgy enough, a few Brooklyn locals who found the piece quickly took it upon themselves to exploit Banksy's work for a profit. They covered the piece with some cardboard and bullied visitors into paying them in order to view and photograph the art. Although this goes against the ideals of street art being accessible to all, it did protect the art for a while. Once the men left, the beaver's face was chiseled off, the knocked over sign was removed, and someone left a message reading: "WE DONT NEED MORE RATS-MATH."
Date: Oct. 11, 2013
Location: Touring the Meatpacking District and then the rest of the city for two weeks
Key developments: Banksy posted a video of people reacting to the truck's first appearance on the streets
The 11th installation of Banksy's residency was a slaughterhouse delivery truck that had plush farm animals peaking their heads out of it. As adorable as the stuffed animals were, they moved and squealed in terror, making the piece more horrifying than endearing. The disturbing piece serves as an intense reminder of cruelty in the meat harvesting industry.
One man posted an image on Twitter of the truck with staff members preparing it for a day in the city, claiming that he had discovered the warehouse Banksy was working out of. This tweet caused a huge controversy between eager members of the media trying to get their hands on the address of the warehouse and die-hard fans who did not want Banksy to be discovered. The truck, like the Waterfall Truck, was touring the five boroughs throughout the duration of the artist's residency.
Date: Oct. 13, 2013
Location: Central Park
Key developments: Two people later made a fake Banksy art sale which sold out in an hour
On October 13, Banksy set up a stall in Central Park, where an elderly man sold original Banksy art pieces for $60 a piece. Most passersby assumed that the work was fake, or maybe just didn't recognize it, and the booth was ignored, only selling eight canvases to three individuals throughout the entire day. These signed pieces are valued to be worth somewhere around $30,000 each. Banksy uploaded the video to his website with the comment, "Please note: This was a one-off. The stall will not be there again today."
One week after Banksy's sale in Central Park, two artists, Dave Cicirelli and Lance Pilgrim, rented the exact same space and set up a stand of their own. The stand looked nearly identical to Banksy's except that this one was filled with fakes. The paintings were sold for $60, and each came with a Certificate of Inauthenticity, making it clear to customers that the artwork was fake. It is unclear as to whether the customers were assuming this was another one of Banksy's schemes or if it was just the hype created around the Banksy name that drove the sales.
Regardless, the stand completely sold out in an hour. All 40 canvases were purchased, including the price sign. In an interview with AnimalNewYork, Cicirelli stated, "We wouldn't have sold any if not for the media hype around Banksy. That was kind of the point—we wanted to complete his statement about the nature of hype and the value of art. Banksy's stunts have created a haze of uncertainty around everything, and we created 'Fake Banksy' within that haze."
Date: Oct. 19, 2013
Location: Staten Island
Key developments: There has recently been speculation as to whether this piece actually depicts a woman or a man
For his 19th piece, Banksy shared a very suggestive video on his website. The video starts with a close-up of a swarming anthill. The camera steadily zooms out, revealing that the area around the hole has been made to look like a woman's legs and hips. Need we say more?
The exact location of this anthill has yet to be established, but it is similar to one that Banksy did in London. For that piece, he transformed a bush hanging over a wall by also drawing a womans legs and hips around it.
Date: Oct. 25, 2013
Location: Houston and Elizabeth Streets (Bowery)
Key developments: Hyperallergic connected the dots between this piece and an earlier painting that Banksy had done and given to a band named Exit Through the Gift Shop (as compensation for stealing their name and using it for his documentary)
This Halloween-themed piece shows a Grim Reaper riding a bumper car. Banksy built suspense for this piece by posting on his website that the piece wouldn't be revealed until 5 p.m. (it was actually posted at 6 p.m.). This left time for people to guess why the new project was taking up so much time. Gothamist called the location before the piece was unveiled, and there were lines of people waiting for the unveil. Who knew that Banksy would embrace the halloween spirit to this extent?