Banksy: champion of free speech? With regards to a recent TV documentary, the answer is a resounding “NO.”
An editorial featuring the personal opinions of Phil Tanfield, editor-in-chief of The Infamous.
Illustration by Anthony Arias
In the last issue of The Infamous we covered London’s legendary Robbo. Most people in the culture (and the media) have focused on his beef with Banksy as the highlight of, if not the reason for, Robbo’s return. In August 2011 Britain’s Channel 4 aired “Graffiti Wars,” a documentary not just about Robbo and Banksy, but about the mentality of the graffiti writer, the differences between “graffiti” and “street art,” and the burgeoning art market for the “popular and commercially successful version” of street art personified by Banksy. It features municipal workers in London who mercilessly buff graffiti while leaving “street art” untouched, and preserving, protecting and even restoring Banksy’s work when it is dissed by graffiti writers. And it tells the story of “Blek la Rat,” Paris’ original street artist from the early-1980s, whose trademark rat was “closely replicated” by Banksy, using a Banksy quote from a British newspaper admitting as much.