Art and Design | Banksy | Los Angeles | Paris Hilton

Banksy Addresses the Elephant in the Room


I've been posting a lot about the British street art prankster Banksy lately. His recent stunts —replacing 500 Paris Hilton CDs with doctored artwork and remixes and planting a hooded Guantanamo detainee behind the fence at Disney's Big Thunder Mountain — have been followed up with a "secret" L.A. warehouse show, Barely Legal, in which the artist addresses the elephant in the room, literally.

For his first L.A. show — the address of which media was only given two hours before the preview — the irreverent Banksy features a real elephant painted in a pink and gold pattern meant to blend in with the background of its living room set.

I wonder what PETA has to say about that?

The show also features samples of his street art and references to his recent stunts — a pile of Paris Hilton CDs crawling with roaches.

Journalist Sorina Diaconescu told the BBC: "I don't feel particularly incensed at the fact that he painted a live animal. But I think he's treading a pretty thin line and it's part of his charm...I'm not sure that Banksy's work carries a particular message. The medium is the message and in this case just the very fact that there is an elephant in the room, the proverbial elephant in the room, is what he's trying to say, period."

Banksy told the L.A. Weekly what the real point of the show is:

"This show has been quite a big undertaking for me; it represents nearly a month of getting up early in the morning. Some of the paintings have taken literally days to make. Essentially, it’s about what a horrible place the world is, how unjust and cruel and pointless life is, and ways to avoid thinking about all that. One of the best ways turned out to be sitting in a warehouse making 50 paintings about cruelty, pain and pointlessness. You get immune. I painted one picture of a Western family eating a picnic in a village of starving African children called I HATE EATING MY DINNER IN FRONT OF THE NEWS, and got so obsessed with painting each and every fly on those kids’ faces, I never once thought about a starving kid for a second.

I guess the show is about wanting to make the world a better place whilst not wanting to come across like a jerk. Imagine what would happen if we took all the money we spent on weapons and gave it to the poor. Then I’d have to grow my own cocaine; my manicurist would kill me."

'Guerrilla artist' Banksy hits LA [bbc]
Absolute **** [la weekly]

Banksy2_2 Banksy3 Banksy4

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  1. But is it art?

    Posted by: Bryce | Sep 14, 2006 11:41:09 AM

  2. Less Bansky please.

    Posted by: Rob | Sep 14, 2006 11:58:10 AM

  3. If he does indeed manage to rile the animal rights wackos at PETA over this, then my esteem for him has just gone up several notches. Well done Banksy!

    Posted by: Pompeius | Sep 14, 2006 12:41:41 PM

  4. Billiant!!

    Posted by: Ben | Sep 14, 2006 1:11:20 PM

  5. I wonder how the paint was put on? I think the elephant is the real work of art.

    The poor elephant has probably done so much dumb stuff because of it's docile nature.

    Posted by: Jack | Sep 14, 2006 1:13:19 PM

  6. It's art because rich people are willing to pay upwards of £5000-£8000 for Banksy prints at Bonhams and other auction houses or galleries. The sooner you buy his Random House book and get a t-shirt, the sooner he can change his name to LaughingallthewaytotheBank$$$y. Radical chic, anyone?

    At this rate, five years from now he'll have a house in Malibu and be directing big budget commercials. Watch this space...

    Posted by: John C | Sep 14, 2006 1:24:30 PM

  7. As long as the paint on the elephant isn't irritating to the skin, and the elephant is being fed and taken care of, I see no problem with it.

    Posted by: Jake | Sep 14, 2006 7:04:06 PM

  8. I like it..

    Posted by: moptopm | Sep 14, 2006 10:17:23 PM

  9. This isnt his first LA show contrary to popular belief. He had his first show 3 years ago at Ultimage Graphics in downtown. Just to let you know.

    Posted by: POSTED BY: | Sep 15, 2006 11:15:57 AM

  10. I saw the show - the elephant was really calm and placid, the trainer was right there and taking good care of it.

    The art was great - thought provoking, and beautifully executed.

    Posted by: haim | Sep 20, 2006 12:29:31 AM

  11. Nice to hear the elphant was treated well. Not much different than getting body painted at Burning Man, except that is voluntary, and in the sun. Did the pachyderm get a nice bath afterwards? Hopefully whilst essential oils being evaporated.

    Posted by: elboman | Oct 25, 2006 1:56:52 AM

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