two reviews of a cans festival in piss street. london.
looking for radical art? try the south bank, not Banksy (shirley dent, guardian, may 6, 2008): “Banksy’s cans festival, bringing together 40 of the world’s best stencil artists, can’t compete with the 40-year-old posters in the hayward gallery” opines shirley, unfavourably comparing the pieces on display in piss street to an exhibition of posters produced in paris in may ’68. the paris thing is “supported by converse with additional support from the new york herald tribune and time out“.
- Apart from a lot of the dialectical jargon, which is just rubbish, there is much that is a bad case of “excuse me but didn’t Hegel say that?” The grandeur of the rhetoric shows up the bathos of the suggested “practice” (e.g. creating situations, whatever that may mean), while the “revolutionary project” itself seems to lack any clear goals.
Time Out (April 4, 1975)
meanwhile, the question is asked: (telegraph, may 6, 2008) Banksy: the michelangelo of graffiti?. “richard dorment was disillusioned with street art’s biggest star, but a new show reveals Banksy as an artist with real talent”; bankable talent. “at a sotheby’s charity auction in new york in january, a Banksy image sprayed on top of a damien hirst spot painting fetched £950,000, a record for the artist.” locally, in recognition of the exchange rate, “a piece of melbourne street artwork by reclusive british artist Banksy has now gone under cover” (melbourne city council moves to protect graffiti artist Banksy’s work, herald sun, april 18, 2008).
- Situationism is a product of the student rebellion, a glorification of the spontaneous happenings which it is felt will spring out of the favoured role of the student within society. It picks up phrases, here from Marxism and there from anarchism. It has an affinity with Blanquism and, when it does, often parades as Maoism or a revised form of Marxism-Leninism — to the indignation of orthodox Maoists or other Marxist-Leninists. But the situationists were virtually non-existent between situations, and unlikely ever to get around to doing anything so positive as attacking a Cabinet Minister.
Stuart Christie, The Christie File (1980)
dent again: “whether looking for icons to smash or to praise, it was the past that informed. in the brochure the political icon held aloft is stuart christie, the scottish anarchist who was a member of the angry brigade in the 1970s.”
unlike christie, Banksy (#84 with a bullet) is less an anarchist than a labor party supporter, having apparently donated “sketch for essex road” to “red” ken livingstone to auction; it raised £195,000 for his mayoral campaign. (jamie reid and a range of other fabulous nobodies also donated their works.) Banksy’s financial support for ken’s failed campaign prompted some others to get out teh vote: “Banksy-esque images purportedly supporting ken livingstone’s mayoral campaign have sparked a whodunnit mystery after appearing on london walls overnight… one group of west country art students are claiming the spray-canned efforts as their work, created as a protest against Banksy’s donation.”
seven years ago, ken had a few things to say about may day, the same day last week he lost his throne to a tory.
Message to all protesters: don’t support the May Day action
“The problem with next month’s May Day Monopoly protests is that violence is not incidental”
Ken Livingstone, April 18, 2001
On 1 May this year, a demonstration will take place in London calling for: the cancellation of Third World debt and the eradication of poverty; a stop to the privatisation of the Tube; and an end to environmental pollution. I support all those objectives and so do many others. But I want to urge everyone who has the slightest sympathy with any of the stated objectives of the May Day Monopoly protesters not to attend this action on 1 May.
Quite apart from the actual illegality of what is proposed, the disruption that is intended and the intimidation that many innocent people will experience, the reason you should not go on these actions is because the organisers do not wish to convince the public of their objectives. Instead they want to carry out individual acts of defiance whose main impact will be to alienate the vast majority. In other words, they will set back the widely supported movements against environmental degradation, deregulation, debt and racism.
This kind of activity should be contrasted with the years of genuinely effective demonstrations which have sought to mobilise the majority of those who support a cause rather than alienate the public. London has a proud record of ensuring the rights of those who wish to protest to do so without interference or obstruction from the police. As the new authority responsible for Trafalgar Square, I will work to ensure that the square retains its landmark status as a home to such movements.
But the entire political approach of the organisers of May Day Monopoly has nothing to do with the mass demonstrations organised by the Anti-Apartheid Movement, CND or the Committee to Stop War in the Gulf. The problem with next month’s protests is that violence is not incidental. In contrast with the mass movements I have mentioned, no attempt has been made to organise the protests to minimise conflict with the police or to maximise peaceful participation. There is no central point of contact for the police to negotiate with and the protesters’ chosen image of masks and uniforms of boiler suits padded to protect them from the police is both provocative and deliberately designed to minimise participation from ordinary people.
The stickers produced to be used in Piccadilly Circus with the slogan “revolutionise your consumer rights & take the lot” are clearly aimed at smashing in shop fronts, as are the parts of the May Day Monopoly website which lists specific commercial targets in the West End. The hostility of the Monopoly organisers to the organised labour movement implies that they are unlikely to be worried by the concerns of shop workers about the targeting of their workplaces.
I know from my own experience last year that these protests are a tool against those who support peaceful protest or oppose Third World debt. Regardless of my frequently stated opposition to the protests, The Sun announced that “A vote for Ken is a vote for them”, next to a picture of a defaced Winston Churchill statue.
Mr Matthews, who served with the Royal Marines in Bosnia and Croatia, justified his actions by telling court: “I thought that on a day when people all over the world were gathering to express their human rights and the right to freedom of speech, I would express a challenge to an icon of the British establishment.”
The secretive organisation of the May Day Monopoly protesters is a perfect example of élitism. The extent to which sympathetic members of the public are asked to participate is very much on the terms of the organisers. It means that those who turn up wanting to protest peacefully against globalisation or debt end up as protecting fodder for those who have already planned their actions. It therefore tends to be the innocent who are thrown unprepared into unnecessary confrontations with the police. If the protesters’ objectives are so benign, why do they hide behind masks?
As mayor of London, it is my duty to look after the interests of London as a whole. London’s economy has already been badly hit by the impact of foot-and-mouth on the tourist trade: turning major tourism and shopping areas into economic targets is simply not acceptable.
I have met the Commissioner of the Police for a full briefing on the planned May Day Monopoly events along with the chair of the Metropolitan Police Authority, Toby Harris. Both Toby and I will continue to be briefed in the run up to 1 May. I have asked the Metropolitan Police Commissioner to ensure London is safe on May Day. Anyone whose intention it is to engage in criminal activities should be arrested and charged without prevarication or unnecessary delay.
London should not have to tolerate any violence or abuse towards its citizens. That is why last week I called for the fascist National Front to be banned from marching through Bermondsey. On my inauguration last year, I said that my administration will be as intolerant of the racist police officer as it will of the anarchist who chooses to desecrate the Cenotaph. Under my mayoralty, there will never be a green light for a return to the bad old days of unaccountable policing. But on 1 May there will be zero tolerance of people who want to disrupt and vandalise London.
My message is clear: don’t attend the May Day Monopoly actions.