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]

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Paris Hilton “Screwed” by Graffiti Artist Banksy [tr]
Banksy Hits Disney [tr]