Is Banksy Taking to the Streets to Campaign for His Oscar?

Slate's Culture Blog
Feb. 16 2011 6:22 PM

Is Banksy Taking to the Streets to Campaign for His Oscar?

Banksy, the perpetually hoodie-wearing, shadowystreet artist, is up for a best documentary Oscar for his film, Exit Through the Gift Shop .

Last week, Academy executives and the film'sproducer agreed that—in the event of a win— Banksywon't accept the award himself , since he isn'twilling to discuss his identity . (The Academy president did tellThe Wrap that Banksy had signed and returned the paperwork to eventuallyreceive the statuette, if it came to that, and that the Gift Shop team was "ableto give us affidavits and enough legal stuff to make us feel comfortable thatit really was he who signed it.")

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But it doesn't seem like Banksy is going tostay completely out of the spotlight. With Oscar ballots duenext Tuesday , a handful of Banksy pieces are cropping up around LosAngeles.

 

Bizarrely, MTV star and author Lauren Conrad seems to havespotted the first one—a stenciled image of a little boy holding a machine gunloaded with crayons. She tweeteda photo of it from her BlackBerry yesterday, asking, "IsBanksy in LA?" A secondpiece , of Charlie Brown smoking a cigarette and pouring out gasoline, wasseen later that afternoon.

Severalmore pieces were spotted today: a girl holding a mallet; a pissing dog; andan inebriated Mickey and Minnie-ish pair of cartoon mice. Images of four of thefive pieces are now on Banksy'sWeb site , confirming his involvement.

Whether or not Exit Through the Gift Shop wins on Feb. 27—and even if you feel a little queasy about the way this roll out feelslike just another faux-authentic marketing campaign—you have tolove the way Banksy's making Los Angeles seem like one giant treasure hunt. We'rejealous over here in New York.

Elsewhere in Slate , Dana Stevens named the documentary one of her top 10 films of 2010:

Of the many films this year that used the documentary form as a Trojanhorse to smuggle in something else entirely—an audience-baiting prank in  I'm Not Here , an onlinerelationship turned performance-art piece in  Catfish —this one was thesmartest and most surprising. The enigmatic British graffitiartist-turned-director Banksy uses the story of Thierry Guetta, an L.A. man whocan best be described as a graffiti artists' groupie, to tell a part-true,part-staged, 100 percent jawdropping tale about media hype and credulity in theworld of gallery art.

On theoccasion of the documentary's release, Ben Davis asked if street art was over , andthe Culture Gabfest discussed the movie in theirJune 2 episode

Nina Shen Rastogi is a writer and editor, and is also the vice president for content at Figment.

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