Saturday, 24 May 2014

Bibliophilia: Banksy: The Man Behind the Wall – Will Ellsworth-Jones

Banksy: The Man Behind the Wall – Will Ellsworth-Jones

I suppose the first difficulty with this book is the aspect of how much of a biography can you really write about someone who goes to extraordinary lengths to stay out of any kind of limelight, going as far as to tell tall tales in an effort to misdirect.

And as much as I appreciate his work, I’m not sure that his anti-establishment schtick has so much credence anymore, now that for all intents and purposes he is part of the art establishment. Anyone who still thinks he is just some guy who goes out with a can of spray paint and a stencil, will be surprised to find out what a sophisticated operation is behind the Banksy mythos. Publicists, lawyers, agents, etc. This is no longer a mere vandal. Well organized gallery showings, people lined up for days to buy one of your limited edition prints, an Oscar nominated mockumentary, counterfeiters ripping you off and still managing to help further your brand, etc, and thumbing your nose at the capitalist system with an anarcho leftist stance, no matter how witty it may be, does seem to be a glaring contradiction. Still interesting to explore how someone has ridden the anonymity train to, paradoxically, fame, and wealth. Anyone hoping to discover something as pedestrian as what his identity is will be disappointed. But if you want to find out the more interesting aspects of Banksy, a little bit about the world he inhabits, the people who have helped him along the way, that you will find here.

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