On reflection, I think my relationship with Banksy may be suffering from the seven-year itch.
In the early days, I gazed with giddy delight at every new Banksy work like a blushing twelve-year-old. I was so proud, so in awe, so inspired. Today, I’m looking at Banksy’s new venture ‘Dismaland’ via its website, like a cranky faced person who owns too many cats.
I flick to an ‘exclusive interview’ about Dismaland with Banksy in The Guardian , where the article begins:
Banksy’s Dismaland: ‘amusements and anarchism’ in artist’s biggest project yet
Banksy’s Dismaland: ‘a theme park unsuitable for children’ – in pictures
Buy the Guardian tomorrow for an exclusive, never seen before Banksy artwork *1
And then further:
Why is this thing?
If you’re the kind of person who feels jaded by the over-corporate blandness that passes for family light entertainment, then this is the bespoke leisure opportunity that will connect with your core brand dynamic. It doesn’t so much ask the question, “What is the point in art now?” as ask, “What is the point in asking, ‘What is the point in art now?’ *1
Yeah, ok, ok, we get it, corporate speak, take the piss out of everyone , whatever. It’s not even funny. It used to be funny. Banksy’s Dismaland will be the anti-fun park, “The UK’s most disappointing new visitor attraction”. And exhibiting artist Damien Hirst , that great rejector of commercialism, wants to make the world a better place too, right?
And so the Dismaland exhibition will see more of the same commentary no doubt, on capitalism, consumerism, and greed . Banksy has become the nagging husband of the art and/or graffiti world (are they even different anymore?). How many times can he tell society we are messed up , have got it all wrong, are unthinking consumers, without, after a while and with no viable alternative , it just becoming a broken record?
And for those that still get on that dolphin in Banksy’s Pier Pressure installation, it clearly falls on deaf ears anyway,in many camps. So what, people will bring their kids to Dismaland as a legitimate day out and Banksy’s cool, in crowd get to laugh at them and say to each other , the poor misguided, commercialised ,material suckers?
We get it, we’re all f&*ked up, now what?
Banksy’s work continues to tell us society is lost and we’re all idiots, and , ok , he might be right, but by now I’m numb to it. The commentary doesn’t inspire me, hurt or interest me anymore, I’m immune. I’ve always been a supporter of Banksy’s philosophies and commentary, but after so long with no next step, without alternatives or a vision I’m worn out.It’s a cliché and I’m bored. I’m the clichéd bored housewife of Banksy’s art.
If you want to move me Banksy, it’s time to make art that moves my heart, rather than reinforces my despair for humanity. I’ve already got despair in spades. It’s time for something more than selling tickets to another spray painted member on another wall.
Or is the joke really on us, ‘buy a ticket to my show to see how much I hate commercialism??’ I’ll show my support to Banksy’s grand exhibition by not attending Dismaland, because as a supporter of Banksy’s philosophies I wouldn’t want anyone to think I’d sold out to novelty consumerism and commercialism.
Good luck with your show, brand Banksy.It’s sure to be a huge hit. Get your people to talk to my people and we’ll do lunch sometime.
Lead image by unknown artist, Newtown,Sydney Australia, 2011.