Sunday, 26 July 2015

Banksy Does New York: NZFF Review

Banksy Does New York: NZFF Review


Exit Through The Gift Shop gave the notorious street artist Banksy another outlet for his work a couple of years back at the New Zealand International Film Festival.

This latest has no involvement from the enigmatic Banksy or his team but instead is from a doco team wanting to focus on the one month residency that Banksy launched in New York back in October 2013.

Every day for that month, Banksy, without prompt and only via clues on his website would launch a new work every day - the resulting scavenger hunt was a social media frenzy and also sparked the very best and very worst in New Yorkers.

Director Chris Moukarbel charts the highs of the Banksy hunters and the lows of those trying to cash in on the frenzy, but he does it with such entertaining aplomb that the underlying issues in this bubblegum doco are somewhat sidelined in among the hordes of people clamouring to enjoy the art.

In some cases, the art's cleaned off before it's even been there for a few hours; in others, it's vandalised by street artists throughout NYC desperate to leave their mark; some protect the art with altruistic motives, while others charge for people to see them. It's a fascinating dichotomy of greed, debate and delirium which hits the streets all around NYC.

The most fascinating parts of this breezy and entertaining doco though are when the film raises the question of who owns the art and why others capitalise on it; is the interaction of these pieces the true reason for their success is another interesting alleyway that's wandered down, but unfortunately Moukarbel isn't really interested in fully exploring these questions, which is an occasional source of frustration.

Especially when one of those who chooses to cash in on Banksy's art is the owner of a business slated for demolition in part of the projects and for whom it could make a massive difference.

Ultimately, there are a fair few questions in Banksy Does New York and the social provocateur from Bristol in England's done it again; the issues of art ownership in the public space, the continuing art snobbery, questions over brand and the disposably breezy nature of this doco paint one hell of a compelling bubblegum picture on the big screen.

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