WEEKLY

THE PRANKY BANKSY
班式惡作劇

槌聲落下,英國塗鴉藝術家Banksy的名作《氣球女孩》以過百萬美元成交,眾人都以為蘇富比的拍賣會圓滿落幕。誰知那一敲,換來的不僅是不絕於耳的掌聲,更預告了畫作將在頃刻間驟然滑落,碎成條狀。定格數秒後,他們方才回過神來──原來,大家都被Banksy這齣自編自導的惡作劇捉弄了!然而,他最希望的,毋庸是要牽引出藝術與商業之間的角力,教人反思藝術商業化的問題。

Banksy精心策劃的計謀,短短數天經已震驚全球。他事後在網絡公開一段影片,承認自己數年前暗地於畫框內設下碎紙裝置,靜候畫作進行拍賣之日派上用場,同時亦附上畢加索的名言:「破壞的衝動,也是創造性的衝動。」若要創造一樣前所未見的東西,舊的事物或會遭到破壞、蹂躪,最後才能生成新的事物。而且,破壞這個行為更可看作是一種象徵性的手段,用來抗衡現實世界的種種。至於Banksy是誰?他是謎一般的男子,以街頭塗鴉蜚聲國際,他從未在人前露面,也沒有表明過身份,即使外間再多猜測,始終無人知曉其身份。他的塗鴉一針見血地諷刺許多社會及政治議題,諸如以巴衝突、消費主義、英國退歐等。人們只需一眼,便能洞悉哪些作品是出自他的手筆。

世界上的確有不少藝術家的作風都是如此大膽前衛,而事實上,Banksy並非第一個自行毀掉作品的藝術家。1961年,德國畫家Gustav Metzger用鹽酸作畫,任由筆跡在尼龍布上雲消霧散,成功開創「自毀藝術」的先河。多年後,Banksy在拍賣完成後毀掉作品,堅定不移地延續「自毀藝術」的精神。他曾經有一幅描畫拍賣會現場的作品,旁邊寫着諷刺字句「我不能相信你們這些蠢人真的會買這件垃圾」。在他看來,爭相競標的人,是蠢蛋,也是不懂藝術的愚昧之人。他亦試過把一件石頭作品偷偷放進大英博物館,讓參觀者「膜拜」;甚至建造一個暗黑版迪士尼樂園「Dismaland」,盡情揭露世間的醜態。此外,他在2014年做了一個街頭實驗,把自己的畫作放在紐約中央公園旁擺賣,每幅作品僅售六十美元,最後卻只賣出八幅作品。他的行為,能讓大家深思藝術商業化的現象,比起一件藝術品本身更具藝術價值。

當人人將藝術與金錢掛勾,唯有Banksy一次又一次誘導我們反思藝術的價值。拍賣會看似是藝術愛好者及收藏家的樂園,實質為披着「藝術」皮囊的交易所。因此,街頭藝術家的影響力,在於他們把藝術帶到街上,拒絕讓藝術變成一門難以觸及的學問。沒有放在博物館、美術館的東西就不能稱為藝術品嗎?造訪拍賣會的人都是欣賞藝術的人嗎?中標的買家當中,又有多少個真正喜歡那件藝術品?這些藝術品大概早就淪為投資品,被人們玩弄於股掌間。縱然Banksy的畫作價值連城,動軏就可以賺到數百萬美元,但他誓死不做金錢的傀儡,決意做一個有靈魂、有思想的藝術家,其精神值得我們借鑑。

然則,藝術家也要維持生計,故很難避免所有商業行為。而Banksy又是否可以不食人間煙火,分文不取呢?其實,他試過為英國樂隊Blur的專輯《Think Tank》設計封面,還賺到了可觀的收入。商業化令藝術創作不再純粹,但若摒棄一切與商業有關的活動,可能會減低藝術品的流通性,繼而阻礙了藝術家的發展。藝術與商業化這一場矛盾與角力,也許永遠沒有完結的一天,不過我們可以參考Banksy就專輯而發表的一段說話:「我認為這點一定要好好釐清,如果你對某件事信念堅定,做點買賣也不會只因為這點商業性就讓它黃金變糞土,不然你就是個社會主義者,反對一切資本主義,如果可以,那就結合優質的產品與優質的視覺,並成為其中一份子⋯⋯」我想,只要抱持自己的信念,藝術家也不是不能參與商業化的創作。

連日來,事件輿論不止,有人認為Banksy與資本主義和藝術商業化抗衡,有人則指這是一場「搏宣傳」的好戲,因為蘇富比早就知道內有乾坤。姑勿論你認為Banksy是否唯一的幕後主腦,這件壯舉確實為全球帶來深刻的反思。畫作毀掉是一個遺憾嗎?我倒認為不是。這幅畫作,可能根本是未完成的作品,反而自毀的行為超脫畫作本身的狀態,完整了這幅作品。再細想,畫作並沒有完全碎掉,並停留在小女孩與氣球分離的畫面,似乎要呈現願望落空的感覺。

無奈地,一切好像事與願違:《氣球女孩》的價值將會攀升得更高;那塊不知名的石頭作品最後真的被列為藝術館藏;那幅罵人蠢蛋的畫,還是拿去給人拍賣了。Banksy這次行動是成功或失敗,我們無從稽考,但至少,全世界都被Banksy了一下。

撰文:王以珞
美術:王曉澄

As the hammer went down, it was confirmed that one of the British artist Banksy’s most recognized works, “Girl With Balloon”, had fetched over a million US dollars. The banging sound of the hammer did not only garner a round of applause, but also presaged the self-destruction of the painting. Overwhelmed with shock for a few seconds, the participants of the auction finally came to realized that they were all pranked by Banksy! What Banksy really hoped, however, was to inspire people to think about the tug-of-war between art and commerce.

This world-shattering plan was well-orchestrated by Banksy. Soon after the incident, he posted a video on his official Instagram account, showing how the shredder was secretly fitted into the frame few years ago, just in case the painting was put up for auction. He also quoted Picasso, “The urge to destroy is also a creative urge.” To creative something that never existed before, old things may be destroyed and trampled sometimes in order to make new things happen. In addition, the act of destroying can be perceived as a symbolic tool to confront the world. But who is Banksy? A man of mystery. He has gained huge popularity because of his street art paintings, and yet no one knows for sure what he looks like and his true identity. There are plenty of wild guesses about his identity, though none of them are proven facts. His graffiti works are satirical and ironic, which often see connections to social and political issues, such as the Israeli–Palestinian conflict, capitalism and the Brexit. It only takes people a glimpse to recognize his art works.

Many artists are just as audacious as Banksy. Indeed, he is not the first one to carry out self-destructive art. In 1961, Gustav Metzger, a German artist who was known as the inventor of auto-destructive art, applied hydrochloric acid to the canvas, so that the painting was entirely dissolved in the end. Many years later, Banksy conducted the self-destructive art during the auction, which unwaveringly passed on the spirit of it. He has a painting depicting a saleroom auction of an artwork on which is written: “'I Can't Believe You Morons Actually Buy This Shit”. In the eyes of Banksy, those who pay so much money for the paintings are morons, and they do not know art at all. He also placed a rock in the British Museum as a hoax for visitors to “appreciate”. And he even built a dystopia version of Disneyland—the “Dismaland”, so as to reveal the disgraceful behaviors in the world. Besides, he conducted a street experiment by selling his works near the Central Park in New York at USD 60 each. Out of people’s expectation, only 8 of his art works were sold. What Banksy has done are actually more invaluable than an art piece itself, since he allows us to rethink about the commercialization of art.

When everyone inextricably links art with money, Banksy still stands firm in doing what he believes. An auction house appears to be a heaven for art buffs and collectors, but it is actually a place for doing money transaction. Therefore, street artists are important in the way that they bring their works to the streets for nurturing public with art and culture. Do you think only art works put in the museums can be called “art pieces”? Do you believe all participants of the auctions really appreciate art? Do you think all buyers really love the art pieces he or she buys? The art pieces in auction houses have all become investment products. Although Banksy can earn a million dollars easily by selling his paintings, he seldom did so. He is just an artist with real talent, and also has a strong belief in art.

Nonetheless, it is very difficult for artists to reject all the commercial works since they have to sustain their livelihood. And did Banksy ever take on a commercial job? Yes. He once designed the album cover of “Think Tank” for the English rock band Blur and earned quite a lot of money. Some people may think commercial jobs are threatening the nature of art, and yet if artists do not do any of it, their career may be hindered. We may not be able to figure out a balance between art and commerce, but we can listen to what Banksy said and keep that in mind, “If it’s something you actually believe in, doing something commercial doesn’t turn it to shit just because it’s commercial. Otherwise you’ve got to be a socialist rejecting capitalism altogether, because the idea that you can marry a quality product with a quality visual and be a part of that even though it’s capitalistic is sometimes a contradiction you can’t live with.” I think the most important thing is to persist in what you believe.

There has been heated debate over the prank these few days. Some people think Banksy is rebelling against capitalism and the art-world commerce, while others start to question if Sotheby’s already knew the plan ahead of time. Putting aside how the prank was executed, it has brought significant influence to the world, and reminded us about the issue of commercialization in art world. Is the painting really destroyed? I do not think so. The art work would not be completed without the self-destruction. Moreover, the painting stopped shredding after the girl was gone, whereas the balloon was still kept inside the frame. Was there any hidden message behind it? Maybe it was to symbolize the vanishing hope.

Ironically enough, everything turns out of expectation. The price of “Girl With Balloon” has soared. The rock has returned back on display in the British museum. What about the “moron” painting? It was also put up for auction before. We cannot judge if Banksy’s prank is successful or not, but at least, the whole world has got “Banksy-ed”.

Text: Elok Wong
Art: Agnes Wong

ISSUE #213

THE PRANKY BANKSY

 

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