13
Oct 05

“it’s his subversion that’s interesting”

The Brown WedgePost a comment • 1,289 views

i like banksy’s work a lot, for good sentimental-personal reasons — there’s a lot of it dotting the grim reaches round old street, which i often used to have to pass through on the way to work, before i knew who he was, and at the time it just seemed good to see SOMEONE was enjoyin themselves

i HATE the lazy, fatuous, self-pleased and self-pleasuring way some of his fans enthuse about him: viz the claim that he’s HACKING the system — the entire “culture-jamming” meme is so fucked and up itself, this complacent assumption that while the SHEEP-LIKE MASSES gawp SLACK-JAWED before EMPTY ESTABLISHMENT ART, only a SELECT CLEVER FEW see THROUGH ALL THAT to REALITY (tickets now on sale…) (or records in the case of smug parasitic twats like NEGATIVLAND). Admittedly the tame art-critic that Channel 4 News roped in last night to “explain” Banksy’s new Notting Show (complete with live rats) only had a single sentence to sum the show up before he wz cut off, and we went back to the studio, but if he wz actually any good at his job (=knowin abt culture) he ALREADY KNEW THIS WOULD HAPPEN and shd have chosen his single sentence accordingly, for maximum effect (in the event we got the headline above, and sighed or slept on)

so, some pointers

i. “subversion” is a FUNDAMENTALLY DEFENSIVE and DESPAIRING (hence REACTIONARY) concept: it entails a hermetic elite, unable to declare themselves honestly to the world at large, let alone convincingly propose their own alternative, pimping in secret off the enemy’s achieved system in the pomp of its alleged monolithic power — thus matrix-style terrorism doesn’t challenge but instead AFFIRMS (and indeed amplifies) state violence; thus baudrilloid-style pol-economy-of-the-sign “criticism” doesn’t REVEAL cultural emptiness, it generates and then revels in it…: both sneer at and in effect shut down ANY ordinary-language responses* to the churned-up, layered, baked-in-a-pie-contradictory complexity of ordinary information, leaving the rest of us at the v.suspect limited mercy of closed-order talibans of “alternative” reading (translation: monolith-worship)

by contrast banksy’s work could hardly be MORE CLEAR or STRAIGHTFORWARD, no second-guessing needed
ii. it derives its POWER from the openness of his appeal to shared sentiment — which is to say, the straightforward utopianism ALREADY PRESENT (if muffled by context, commodification, mystification etc) in a million items of (yes yes sometimes a bit lame) popular art

iii. it derives its STRENGTH from his manifestly obvious pleasure in established technique (the jokes unleash everything that casual repetition has locked INTO the original: détournement isn’t mockery, it’s acknowledgment of temporal priority plus declaration of cultural equality — everyone’s cultural equality — and banksy’s détournement show he’s at LEAST as much a celebrant of REAL ACTUAL PROPER PAINTING as the fkn STUCKISTS)

(ok this above is a bit of a poor example of the proper-painted-gallery-art he adores, seeing as i don’t know who the original wz by: however the new exhib’n loves and re-enshrines a MONET, a HOPPER, a VETTRIANO and naturally several warhols, inc.K.Moss-as-Marilyn) (and lots of rats) (which is a homage to my kitchen, which is since recently full of HORRIBLE MICE bah)

*(MAIN UNSTATED ARGT ALERT: specialist and/or technical jargon, useful as it is, is WAY MORE prey to commodification-repetition and the vagaries of intellectual fetish-fashion than what i’m admittedly rather vaguely callin “ordinary language” here)

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