i first became introduced to banksy when i was attending university of new orleans. one of urban planning classes focused on public art. we watched a great movie called "bomb it", and we were talking about an artistic battle going on in new orleans. graffiti in new orleans takes on a new meaning. one of my favorites is under I-10, where they took down rows of oak trees to build I-10, a disputedly racist decision, there is graffiti of oak trees up the supports for the highway. there is an infamous graffiti artist in new orleans who has challenged what is public art. the grey ghost goes over other people's graffiti with grey paint, and these blobs are his signature, claiming he has as much right to put up his "art" as other graffitti-ers. there are bumper stickers and telephone pole signs saying we hate the grey ghost while some t-shirt companies have coined the slogan "grey is graffiti." all of this discourse more or less fine until truly famous graffiti artist banksy came to new orleans. then fred radtke, aka the grey ghost, started covering up banksy's expensive masterpieces. besides the fact that banksy is truly talented, his works sell for literally $500,000 and are owned by celebrities such as angelina jolie. despite his rights, it seems like a complete loss that the works disappear forever because of the grey ghost's effort to make a statement. fred was arrested a few years ago for covering up a commissioned piece of art--those public art lines get fuzzy! banksy's final move, to graffiti the grey ghost covering him up--can the grey ghost beat that?
banksy's work has incredible political messages. he has traveled from city to city and inspired not only graffiti artists but modern art in general.
while banksy's identity has remained a mystery for years, there is a movie coming out about him--with his face covered entirely from as much as i can tell. it's playing in very few cinemas, but it is currently playing at Athena in athens--which is the only place it will be playing in georgia.
i kind of like that he has kept his identity a secret. as for me, banksy has inspired me to go to graduate school for art history and to study the underground movements of public art.
the search for banksy