“They knows there’s a bunch of haters, so thats why they got me to sit here all night,” says Victor Rivera, 49, of Ridgewood to ANIMAL. It was little after midnight as he was attempting to sink screws through the plexiglass and onto the wall that Banksy has stenciled earlier that day. Street art fans peppered him with praise. “Thank you,” says one 20-something woman who rides up on her bike. Minutes later a young guy with a camera shows up and gives kudos to Rivera.
Rivera was born in the neighborhood and until today had never heard of Banksy. He tells me that the building owner hired him to secure the work. “They’re going to try to preserve it,” he says. “We’re going to build a frame all the way to the brick wall and then put some safety glass in front of it, sort of make it like a mural.”
Not at all the Banksy fans visiting the piece approve of this type of intervention. “It’s interesting because street art isn’t traditionally behind glass,” explains Annie Plick. “It’s usually subjected to the same elements that anything in the street would be subjected to.”
The 21-year-old circus performer also gave ANIMAL her thoughts about the meaning behind the piece. “I think it’s also interesting how the human beings are placed on the arch, a pinnacle representation of architecture and human development from Roman times, which sort of compares our society to the Roman Empire in a way.” She adds, “The tree is next to it, and the tree seems to be in the shadow of the Victorian-style humans atop the Roman arch.”
A little before 1am a young couple arrive. Migir and Iman begin taking photos of the piece and tell me that they have been intently following Banksy’s public art project. But at least one half of the pair doesn’t approve of the extra protection.
“I don’t like how they have to cover it in order to preserve it because it’s street art,” says Iman, 24, of Manhattan. “It’s vandalism to start with. If someone wants to come and put another message on top it that should be okay.”‘
As with all things Banksy, however, nothing is certain. When I returned this morning, a different contractor was at the wall, busily measuring it out. He says he’s cutting it out tomorrow. You can do that I asked? “Yes, just need to cut in about four inches,” he responded.