Banksy – the world renowned graffiti artist- takes a liking to Detroit! New street art from Banksy has appeared at the Packard Plant after the original four dissipated.
This infamous graffiti artist is shrouded in mystery. Little is known about his identity other than that he is believed to have been born in Bristol, UK around 1975. His identity is masked even when appearing in his new documentary Exit through the Gift Shop. The illusive feeling of this artist has only fed into his fame. Rumors circulate as to the credibility of some tagging. Banksy only authenticates certain pieces by posting pictures on his website. So far only three of the five in Detroit have appeared.
Paradise Boy has just recently been authenticated by Banksy. Unfortunately, this piece had the shortest life span. MetroTimes reports that the owner of the tagged ‘For Lease’ building in the Cass Corridor had this piece power washed and removed from the building.
Diamond Girl on Van Dyke has yet to be claimed genuine. She is currently missing and is presumed to be in rubble somewhere. As can be seen by the void, Process Theory documents their removal process up to this point in the picture, but claim that in the end they do not know who took her. This picture may be one of the last remaining from when she was still intact.
The Tightrope Rat in Warren was the longest lasting in its original context. The “Banksy Rat” seems to be a signature trademark. A like replica of the rat can be found on the Exit through the Gift Shop movie poster. Sadly the Tightrope rat has been painted over and in remembrance only a small silver square remains.
“I remember when all this was trees” was the first work authenticated on Banksy’s website. It is also the most controversial. 555 Gallery owners were alerted to the location of the piece and set upon a preservation effort. The entire Packard Plant wall was carefully removed and relocated. The recontextualization of this piece continues to have the art world divided.
The most recent authenticated posting is of a caged canary. As of yet, it is the only Banksy in its original context, once again discovered at the Packard Plant. The symbolism of the graffiti possibly deals with coal miners using canaries as test subjects to see if the path was clear ahead. Perhaps the fate of this piece is a forewarning of events to come.
Rumors spread that Banksy is only tagging cities like Detroit to promote his new documentary. Regardless of such intentions this is definitely a film worth seeing. (It is currently being shown in Royal Oak at Main Art and in Ann Arbor at Michigan Theatre.) In my own illusive act, I will refrain from summarizing the plot and only comment that this documentary lives up to the controversy surrounding Banksy in Detroit. I guess the moral of this story is to never become a sell out and instead live by doing something for the rush and love of it.