Thursday, October 9, 2008

Banksy's Newest "Pet Project"

By now it's almost certain your familiar with the work of graffiti artist Banksy. The anonymous British "vandal" might be the most popular social commentator of our time--and for good reason. Although he primarily uses stencils to create satirical pieces which deal with politics, ethics, and pop culture, he has also dabbled in sculpture, CD production/alteration, and video. There are plenty of places in which you can view his work, and I encourage you to browse through some of them if you have not already:

The brilliance of Banksy is a combination of the quality and creativity of his work. In an interview with Design is Kinky, Banksy shed some light on how he approaches a new piece:

"I use whatever it takes. Sometimes that just means drawing a moustache on a girls face on some billboard, sometimes that means sweating for days over an intricate drawing. The efficiency is the key."

It's not simply this willingness to play with style and method and subject and location that have resulted in his unparalleled success, but a keen understanding of what works and what doesn't. And just when you think you've got him figured out, Banksy turns the tables. Earlier this week in the West Village of New York City, "The Village Pet Store & Charcoal Grill" opened up shop at 89 7th Avenue.
The "pet store" is filled with animatronics in glass cages/displays which almost all serve to comment on the ethical treatment of animals. There is a live leopard with a swinging tail that, upon closer inspection, is actually an expensive woman's coat. There is a fish bowl complete with swimming fish sticks. There is a rabbit applying the latest cosmetics in front of a mirror. There is a rooster and his baby chicken nuggets, feeding from a BBQ dipper. There are an array of caged sausages and hotdogs in habitats which suit their needs. Check it out:

You can also view individual videos of each display (though some don't seem to work just yet) on the pet store's official website.

Banksy's newest work highlights his greatest asset as an artist: his sense of humor. So much of "modern" art is dark and alienating, or at the very least, weird. Yet it's difficult to walk away from a Bansky piece without laughing, even when it's you he's making fun of. While most animal rights activists would call Banksy's method less effective than a more in-your-face reality check, Banksy's humor makes his work accessible, and therefore fun to view.

First he was drawing on the Israeli West Bank barrier, then he was replacing Paris Hilton's new album with fakes created in conjunction with DJ Danger Mouse. He even installed a blow-up Guantanamo Bay prisoner inside the walls of the Big Thunder Mountain Railroad ride at Disneyland in California. But this time he's outdone himself. For the first time, there is no risk of his artwork being painted over or removed. There is no danger of outcries for his arrest, because, well, it's his store.

If you live in New York, you can drop by to view his art in person from 10AM until midnight from now until Halloween. And even if it's closed, or too packed to get inside, the storefront windows provide 24/7 means to catch a glimpse of the work of perhaps our generation's greatest artist and social commentator.

1 comment:

ali total fitness said...

That is eerie it’s so good. I love how even I feel ashamed watching that and I don’t support any of those industries. Good find, Adam