<body> Public Ad Campaign: Banksy - Colossal Media Hit
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Friday, October 3, 2008

Banksy - Colossal Media Hit

Notice the "!!!DAMN RATS" graffiti which has peen put up over the Banksy only days after it was finished.

photo by Jake Dobkin

I have a gathered a few interesting facts about the Banksy/Colossal Media Street Art collaborative mural that happened this week

1-Banksy paid Colossal Media to paint these murals
2-Colossal Media did contact the landlord to approve the work
3-Colossal Media is renting the space through the landlord at an undisclosed monthly fee
4-59 Grand Street Equities Inc. did not get the proper permits from the DOB to put up a sign here

So I'd call this illegal Street Art, albeit art more heavily financed than most individuals have the resources for; nonetheless Street Art with all its connotations, challenging who gets to use the streets and for what. Despite this, no one seems to be getting all that worked up about it, even though it may be one of the largest illegal projects ever done in this city. It even surpasses large Super Soaker graffiti hits, and giant wheat pastes like the current JR piece at the corner of Houston and Bowery. (Pictured)

And maybe that's a good thing. Certainly it shows people are not averse to Street Art. In fact, I spent half an hour watching people take pictures and then talking to them about the fact that this mural was an illegal artwork and that it could be removed. The responses I got were overwhelmingly upset over the fact that it might be taken down.

So what would happen if this illegal artwork was removed? Other than decoration, what purpose can the work serve for the public in the way that good street art often does?

A few blocks away at 380 Canal street, there is a large illegal advertising billboard for the new movie "Body of Lies." Over a year ago,

outraged residents filed complaints to The Department of Buildings against the advertisement. Soon after, the Special Sign Enforcement Unit condemned this illegal advertisement and demanded that the landlord remove it. Today, this illegal advertisement still reaps significant profits for the owners of that property, without public oversight.

The public's reaction to this illegal advertising billboard is not nearly as affectionate as it is towards the illegal Banksy mural. Reactions to the illegal advertisement range from passive acceptance to outright rage over the fact that we are being forced consume this commercial message illegally.

This illegal Banksy mural, along with the public's help, can turn this situation into an overtly political message to the city. This message would assert the public's right to decide what is left on the city's walls, and thus what it wants to see on the city's walls in the future. With no complaints about the illegal Banksy mural having been filed, and several complaints having been filed against the illegal advertisement, it is imperative that the city remove the illegal advertising billboard and leave this artwork up.

By bringing its own illegality to the forefront, the Banksy piece, along with public support, forces the city to choose sides in the debate over the appropriate use of public space. If the city does not carry out its duty to remove the illegal advertisement first, it will be sending a strong message about who's interests the city serves - those of the commercial forces or those of the public interest. Public protest of the removal of this artwork, if it comes to it, would imbue this piece with a purpose it never had, thereby giving it the authenticity we associate with true Street Art.

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