EDITORIAL: Banksy breaks rules and we call it art


Banksy, a renowned street artist, made headlines when one of his more famous artworks was shredded after it was bought at an auction. The piece immediately shredded itself via a secret compartment in the frame

The act has been met with mixed reviews, with nearly everyone lauding the fact that while it may have been a critique on capitalism it had the opposite result. The painting, sold for 1.25 million, will undoubtedly go for twice as much if it’s put on auction again in its shredded state.

This has raised the question of what artists can do with their art when it is being sold.

Art is a commodity like any other. It is bought and sold. However, the intangible difference between what is art and what isn’t is absolute. We place a higher value on that which we deem art. That tends to put it in a special class, different from anything else a person can buy.

This special class gives those who make it special privileges. For example, in 1994 artist Jake Platt vandalized another’s artwork and got away with it as it was artistic expression. Thus, there seems to be a special connection between the artist and the art they create that isn’t held to the same standard as non-artistic efforts. 

This is especially true in Banksy’s stunt as no one has tried to charge anyone. If Banksy wasn’t the one who had done it is doubtful that would still hold true. Society views artists in the same regard they view their artwork. In some ways, artists are untouchable. 

This is exactly how society ought to regard their artists. Art is constantly evolving, changing and reflecting from the culture that birthed it. It is only right that the artists who create a culture’s art be allowed to conduct themselves in a different manner than the rest.

One cannot fully appreciate and thus accurately depict values, themes and tones without being extreme once in a while. Of course, not every line should be crossed but there are always a few that need to be. 

While Banksy’s stunt wasn’t entirely successful, it still got a message across — a message that couldn’t have been sent as effectively or interestingly if he was hindered by the rules that govern the rest of us. Even if you disagree with that message, you have to admit that you wouldn’t have heard it otherwise.

Most people do not pay attention to the art world and the artists within it. Thus, perhaps it is important that artists don’t play by the rules. That way they are able to reach across the gap into the mundane and pull your attention toward their art.

Artists want you to pay attention and you should. Art can carry important messages, emotions and responses. It can help show you a new way of looking at the world and yourself. If an artist has to push a few buttons or break a few rules in order for you to pay attention then it would have been worth it.

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