Celebrated street artist Banksy’s famous painting of a girl standing under an umbrella was defaced with red spray paint over the holiday. (It is currently being restored.) The identity of the vandal or vandals is as yet unknown, and will probably remain so given the at best legally ambiguous nature of Banksy’s work. While Banksy’s paintings are appreciated by many, the defacement provokes this question: Should his work be considered sacrosanct?
By choosing public space as his canvas, he is operating in a living, competitive environment: a rich artistic biome full of taggers, street artists, sloganeers and run of the mill vandals. Defacing or modifying the work of competitors is par for the course in this Darwinian milieu. Should we, as Banksy’s audience, be any more outraged when his work is defaced than we would be when another street artist has his labor destroyed?
It can be argued that the public outcry is symptomatic of personal identification with a brand and acceptance of its commodification.… Read the rest