8 February 2016
It all began on October 1, 2013, in New York, between Allen and Grand Street, with the stencil painting of two working-class boys, one standing on the back of the other, reaching up to steal the spray can from a sign saying “graffiti is a crime.” No one could have imagined that this was going to be just the first in a series of artistic onslaughts by the most famous, and paradoxically most mysterious, of contemporary street artists: Banksy. All we know about him is that he was born in Bristol, UK, and that for over a decade he has been the outstanding exponent of this essentially illegal art form. That day, and throughout the month, Banksy struck again and again in the Big Apple, putting into effect a sort of “artist’s residency” in the streets, as well as on the internet, with an Instagram profile and a website set up to promote an operation that he called Better Out Than In. In Banksy in New York, Ray Mock tells the story of that incredible month as it unfolded, recounting the sequence of events with the dates and locations of a multitude of interventions: sculptures, puppets, music, noisy stuffed animals, actors in costume, complex installations and, obviously, stencil paintings. A veteran of street art and connoisseur of Banksy, the author brings to life the frenzied treasure hunt that was sparked off all over New York, turning fans and the curious into sleuths in their efforts to find the next intervention. Thanks to a talent for investigation and information drawn from social networks, Mock was in fact able to document the whole project promptly, photographing each piece before it was disfigured, concealed or stolen. The amusing accounts that accompany the reportage reveal some surprising facts about the installations and the reactions of the public. The narrative style, somewhere between the journalistic scoop and the diary, allows us to fully appreciate the many brilliant ideas of this global artist and his witty observations on Western culture and its habits of consumption, always in dialogue with the city which, for a month at least, he literally took over. Published by Carnage.