Thursday, March 16, 2017

Know Your Enemy

"Banksy has described his latest work, the Walled Off Hotel in Bethlehem, as 'a three-storey cure for fanaticism, with limited car parking'. It's a typically glib statement from the bingo master of heavy-handed symbolism, the latest evolution in a career of unsophisticated protest art, the tipping point where he jumped the shark from aggressive mediocrity to ludicrous pompousness."

Thus begins Bella Gladman's demolition of the much-trumpeted latest project from "spray can charlatan" Banksy - essentially a fierce riposte to the uncritical coverage afforded to it by the likes of the Guardian (and subsequently reproduced by me and others).

The crux of Gladman's critique is that Banksy has overstepped the mark by wading arrogantly into a subject that is far too complex and serious for his simplistic and self-consciously "playful" art. As a result, the hotel and the artworks in it don't so much achieve their stated objective of promoting understanding and invite reflection as provoke offence.

I'll admit to generally being a fan of Banksy's work - but in this instance it does feel as though Gladman may well have a point.

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