Tuesday, July 13, 2010
Detroit Art Scandal
Banksy is an anonymous UK graffiti artist who has painted on urban walls all over the world – from Palestine to Australia. He was in Detroit recently and left his (suspected) mark in at least four urban locations.
One of them was an old Packard plant, which had been empty and decaying for years. It was slated to be demolished. This work could have gone unnoticed. Street art isn’t shown, but discovered, particularly that of anonymous artists. Yet, Banksy has a web site, where he displays his work.
Someone recognized the plant and contacted a local gallery, the 555 Gallery. Of course, they wanted to preserve the work. This could probably have been accomplished with a call to the plant’s owner. Banksy’s work is highly valued; it’s unlikely that anyone would intentionally allow it to be destroyed.
Yet, the 555 Gallery sent staff to the plant, removed the wall, built a frame for it and took it back to their property. It took them two days, they used a forklift and reduced the piece’s value by removing it. Of course, they will find themselves in a courtroom over these actions.
Graffiti gets destroyed; that’s the nature of street art. A lot of Banksy’s works have unwittingly been damaged, destroyed, painted over or cleaned away. Yet, Detroit is the nation’s poster child of economic troubles. Here, even beautiful buildings fall into disrepair and sit neglected for decades. An empty factory draws no attention in Detroit. Only here could someone walk off with a factory wall.