Almost everyone is familiar with Banksy’s work – whether you have heard of him through his artwork in various cities, or through his stunts, you understand what he stands for. His most recent stunt was a shredder hidden in a frame of a work of art being auctioned at Sotheby’s; when the work of art sold, someone in the crowd pressed a button activating the shredder, ruining the art piece. Stunts such as these compliment his sustained anonymity and refusal to sell his art through official vendors, and represent his anti-capitalist viewpoint. This is partly a quality of his genre of art; street art is not intended to make a profit. His popularity allows for him to make even stronger statements then he did before, and lash out against those who are selling his art without his consent on a larger platform.
But, it is not as though Banksy does not sell his work at all, he only supports work that he sells himself through his own “authentic” vendor, which he calls Pest Control; his Pest Control website. This does not mean Banksy does not profit off of his art; Forbes estimates that he has a net worth of about $20 million, and has explained before that he feels guilty for profiting off his work at all. It is clear through his constant large scale projects, that he is earning enough to sustain himself and create almost any type of project he wants to.
GRAPHIC COURTESY OF CAROLINE POLICH
Some might argue that if Banksy is profiting off of his art, why should he be the one to complain about the system? I believe that this exact privilege is the reason why. Banksy has an incredible platform to base his rebellion off of. It seems as though people are always anxiously awaiting his next move, whether it is artwork or an elaborate prank such as the shredding of his piece that sold for over one million dollars at Sotheby’s. Everything that Banksy does commands attention, and a lot of it. We can see this through his Dismaland event, where a week’s worth of tickets sold in only one hour; or from the video of his shredding artwork at that went viral.
It’s true that Banksy doesn’t need any more money, or attention, but he is using his power to advocate for those who don’t have a voice. He uses his art to create important political narratives, and speak for artists in his community. He has the ability to reach a world audience, a platform which he takes full advantage of to promote the greater good.