All posts tagged: Gorky Park

Banksy Genius Or Vandal? It’s Up To You! Currently Playing In Moscow

Banksy Genius Or Vandal? It’s Up To You! Currently Playing In Moscow

They could have called it “Smoke & Mirrors”. Now you see him, now you don’t.

Instead the name of the new exhibition about the British Street Artist Banksy here in Moscow is posed by the organizers as a question – “Genius Or Vandal? It’s Up To You!”

Banksy. Genius Or Vandal? It’s Up To You! Central House of Artists. Moscow, Russia. August 2018. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Absent of a substantial collection of original pieces of art, the exhibition relies heavily on print editions (some of the editions higher numbers), blown up oversized photographs and a multi screened multi-media video montage in a darkened spooky area that may impart a sense of Street Art’s original transgressive nature to visitors. There don’t appear to be any masterpieces, but its hard to say.

In order to fill the enormous entire second floor of the venue, Central House Of Artists located in Gorky Park in Central Moscow, the organizers printed large photos taken of the actual original works placed on the streets of England, The USA and Palestine. There isn’t a problem with the photographic material, and many of them are of good quality but the show isn’t advertised as an exhibition of street art photography.

The naming of the show and its description implies that this is a solo exhibition of Banksy, actually, and not only is a large percentage of space taken for documentation of the work, the Instagram account attributed to the anonymous artist has recently announced that Banksy has no involvement in it whatsoever. In reality these are finer distinctions that the majority of visitors will care little about.

Banksy. Genius Or Vandal? It’s Up To You! Central House of Artists. Moscow, Russia. August 2018. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Spare yourself the incredulity; this is a marketing exercise and entertainment show meant to draw a general audience to view the works of Banksy, his greater ideas, his wit, and his politics. In the process the show acquaints them with the general practice of Street Art, and very possibly strengthens the value of his works on the market and in private collections. Truthfully, we are no more assured of Banksy’s or his teams’ involvement / disinvolvement in this show than we are of his hands performing the spraying of stencils on walls or animating stuffed animals in the back of a truck. In this way anonymity has a slew of benefits, and the veracity of any public statements attributed to him must necessarily also be viewed with at least a little suspicion.

If successful, and by unofficial count “Genius or Vandal?” has drawn between a third to a half million visitors, it will probably be packaged as a mobile exhibition and go on the road like the one by his former Manager Steve Lazarides “The Art of Banksy”, which is currently in Toronto, after being shown in Melbourne, Amsterdam, Tel Aviv and Auckland. If this indeed has drawn half a million visitors, that would mean roughly 1 in 26 of Moscow’s 13.2 million inhabitants have seen the show.

Banksy. Genius Or Vandal? It’s Up To You! Central House of Artists. Moscow, Russia. August 2018. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

And this is as much a show (or more) as it is an exhibition. To augment the slim collection of original works the organizers created a video montage that is splashy and attractive; a sort of a retrospective in 20 minutes that is lengthened because every slide or animation with text has to be shown twice, in English and in Russian. The designers of the exhibition create a series of environments or installations meant to be evocative of the margins of metropolis – cargo pallets, metal drums, street cones and a recreation of what we imagine is the artists’ studio as featured in the movie “Exit Through The Gift Shop”. It’s an edgy theme park feeling for everyday folks as well, meant to imbue the show with an aura of authenticity and street cred.

Along the way visitors can also learn about his political opinions and forays into Israel/Palestine/Bethlehem, his sorrowful Dismaland theme park, his general upending of pleasant conventions and his deeper commitment to social justice. Cheesy as it might be, this show isn’t a bad introduction to Banksy the person and Banksy the brand, and if he has no involvement with this it can be argued that it is still beneficial in some ways.

Yes there’s a gift shop as well, naturally, as you exit the show.

Banksy. Genius Or Vandal? It’s Up To You! Central House of Artists. Moscow, Russia. August 2018. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Banksy. Genius Or Vandal? It’s Up To You! Central House of Artists. Moscow, Russia. August 2018. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Banksy. Genius Or Vandal? It’s Up To You! Central House of Artists. Moscow, Russia. August 2018. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Banksy. Genius Or Vandal? It’s Up To You! Central House of Artists. Moscow, Russia. August 2018. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Banksy. Genius Or Vandal? It’s Up To You! Central House of Artists. Moscow, Russia. August 2018. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Banksy. Genius Or Vandal? It’s Up To You! Central House of Artists. Moscow, Russia. August 2018. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Banksy. Genius Or Vandal? It’s Up To You! Central House of Artists. Moscow, Russia. August 2018. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Banksy. Genius Or Vandal? It’s Up To You! Central House of Artists. Moscow, Russia. August 2018. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Banksy. Genius Or Vandal? It’s Up To You! Central House of Artists. Moscow, Russia. August 2018. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Banksy. Genius Or Vandal? It’s Up To You! Central House of Artists. Moscow, Russia. August 2018. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Banksy. Genius Or Vandal? It’s Up To You! Central House of Artists. Moscow, Russia. August 2018. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Banksy. Genius Or Vandal? It’s Up To You! Central House of Artists. Moscow, Russia. August 2018. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Banksy. Genius Or Vandal? It’s Up To You! Central House of Artists. Moscow, Russia. August 2018. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Banksy. Genius Or Vandal? It’s Up To You! Central House of Artists. Moscow, Russia. August 2018. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Banksy. Genius Or Vandal? It’s Up To You! Central House of Artists. Moscow, Russia. August 2018. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Banksy. Genius Or Vandal? It’s Up To You! Central House of Artists. Moscow, Russia. August 2018. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

For more information please visit http://banksyexhibition.com/


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