Banksy: Painter, polemicist, or prankster?
Gough, P. (2012) Banksy: Painter, polemicist, or prankster? In: Gough, P. , ed. (2012) Banksy: The Bristol Legacy. Bristol: Redcliffe. ISBN 9781906593964
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When I told people in Bristol that I was writing this book everyone asked the same two questions: ‘Have you actually met Banksy?’ and ‘Does he know you are writing this book?’ Answer to the first: ‘Possibly; but how would I know?’; answer to the second: ‘Probably, but why do you think it’s important?’ These and other frequently asked questions – and my cryptic responses – reveal several things about us and Banksy: first, our continuing fascination with this most secretive of public artists; secondly, a begrudging respect at times bordering on genuine affection for his role as a spokesman on contemporary matters; and thirdly, the British fascination with the ‘whodunnit’, who exactly is this person about whom so much is apparently known but who chooses anonymity and absence over visibility and instant recognition. Banksy’s absence throws down a blatant challenge to our cult of instant celebrity. His is the missing face from the weekly glossy gossip mags; a global ‘name’ who simply refuses to reveal himself; the empty seat on the ubiquitous chat show.
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