Recently, the only street artist the mainstream cares about, Banksy, installed one of his signature stencil pieces, depicting two lovers engrossed in their mobile phones, on public property in his hometown of Bristol. Hours after its location was discovered and announced to the world, sending droves of fans to take photos of it, local Dennis Stinchcombe removed it. He said he plans to sell it to benefit the boy’s club he operates, which is in dire need of money. But did he have the right to take it? That question has created quite a stir amongst the city council, Banksy fans, and countless knobs who think their opinion is important.
While we ultimately think the work Banksy puts in the street should stay in the street, we’re not too precious about it being removed as long as it benefits the community and not some rich asshole.
Here’s why it’s okay that he took it down.
Lots of Banksy’s work is site specific. He never came off as the type of street artist who chooses his locations willy-nilly. This latest piece was literally placed steps from the front gate of the Broad Plains Boys Club. The above Photoshopped image from Google Street View shows just how close, so there is the possibility that Banksy deliberately put it there.
This is hardly Banksy’s best work. The sale of this piece is expected to fetch over $100,000. It will be going to a good cause, and if that means some Banksy super fans won’t get to see the work in person, boo-fucking-hoo. It’s helping an organization that is down and out and has been looking after the community’s children for over a century.
Unlike in New York, the work Banksy puts up in the UK isn’t usually vandalized by dick-riding graffiti writers or slick marketers within hours. But the possibility still looms. Theft is also a problem. And this piece was easily removable. So instead of some jerky person running off with it and putting it on eBay, the boy’s club alternative isn’t that *bad.
Bristol’s city council hearts Banksy. He’s their hometown darling, and unlike other street artists in that city, his work, even though it’s illegal, is often protected. Although elected officials are up in arms over the removal of this piece, the likely alternative would be re-installing the door and covering it with plexiglass, or perspex, as they call it in the UK. But even that won’t protect it, as some vandals have gone as far as pouring battery acid behind the plexiglass to ruin the piece. Also, legalized street art is kinda lame.
Banksy is from Bristol. The guy who removed it is from Bristol. It will ultimately help out a Bristol based organization. Hooray for Bristol!
*One caveat: There’s no reason for him to charge money to see the painting. That’s terrible. He’s going to make enough money by selling it; he certainly doesn’t need to scrape a few quid as well. That’s just greedy.