Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Who Wants To Go To Dismaland?

Part of an installation is seen at Banksy's 'Dismaland' exhibition at a derelict seafront lido in Weston-Super-Mare, England. (Matthew Horwood/Getty)
While listening to CBC Radio 'Q' yesterday morning on the topic of Banksy's Dismaland art project, located in the seaside town of Weston Super Mare, England, I was left feeling that any criticism of Banksy is not so acceptable because his work is considered almost sacrosanct. 
Personally I thought the Canadian art critic RM Vaughan made some very valid, and relevant points, in spite of the fact that he did not see Dismaland.

His comments resounded with me being a fellow Maritimer, who well understands the tiredness and poverty that exists in small rural areas, as I live in one. Artists and locals often rely on tourism to bring in the dough to alleviate our financial hardships, declining economy, natural resources, and increasingly aging population.

If artists or people in general have no sense of humour toward difficult circumstances we'd be unable to survive. Bansky understands this as well.

RW Vaughan's comments made me hearken back to my art school days when he referenced that seemingly oppositional defiant, clever art student, full of snark, who appears to know everything in class. Turns out he's mostly a jerk, when you go for a beer with him afterward. I had a little nostalgic snort and giggle.
To be clear I am not saying Banksy is the jerk in this case, as RW Vaughan stated he's just preaching to the choir.

When Damien Hirst 's name came up in the conversation my ears perked up.
Damien Hirst has in many ways become the “ it boy”, and, perhaps even a victim of his own persona, that represents all that is superficial, shallow, capitalistic and self-absorbed and dishonest within the art market. In light of accusations and legal charges made against him, being accused several times of art plagiarism, including the public controversial comments he has made, leads one to seriously question his scruples and integrity. In many of his public statements his lack of integrity is evident, “ I can’t wait to get into a position to make really bad art and get away with it. At the moment if I did certain things people would look at it, consider it and then say ‘f off”. But after a while you can get away with things.” Julian Spalding, The New York Times 2008

I have to say, much of the behaviour and attitude exhibited by Damien Hirst was a result of abuse and use of substances and one needs to take this circumstance into consideration when judging his work and who he is as a person taking into account that he no longer is the same person as he was in earlier years. That said, the body of painting has produced more recently, I appreciate and I would conclude he has more to contribute as a painter.

I think Banksy has a different kind of scruples and personality than Damien Hirst.

As RW Vaughn stated I agree his politics hasn't changed. If the basic premise is to educate an uniformed public with answers instead of questions, he may very well be "preaching to the choir" and Dismaland has mostly captivated his art smart fans as opposed to the so called locally uniformed.

I am of the opinion like Damien Hirst, Banksy he has also perhaps become a tired victim of his own persona, but I do think the art world is taking advantage of the "it boy" status, and exploitative for capital gain, and in the very ways that Banksy's purports to abhor about the art world.

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