I’m a huge fan of Banksy. Not in the cornball “fanboy” sense, but more in the sense of genuine admiration for what he does. He’s an artist in the truest of ways. Aside from his imagery that has become known around the globe for stirring up controversy (which is fantastic). He’s now delved into an awesome statement about the overall perception of value in general. These sorts of social experiments have been done a few times. An earlier version was with Joshua Bell, a world renowned violinist. For those who are not familiar with Joshua Bell, he’s an incredible artist. People are accustomed to seeing him in large fancy venues with major symphony orchestras. But what happens when he just stands in a metro station in Washington DC & just plays in normal street clothing? His ability is the same. His music is no less beautiful. But suddenly people are very busy with no time to stop and admire his profound abilities except for only a few. Check out the Joshua Bell Subway Experiment video for yourself from 2007. Those types who stopped are the types of people I admire. A name / brand need not be attached to it.
So now Banksy takes the same concept and pushes it a step further.
I’d like to think I don’t have to explain this, but I’m always shocked how many people really won’t have any clue of what he was trying to say in the least with this recent action. Let’s assume your like me….a nobody. Even if I did say or come up with the most amazing thing on the planet tomorrow, nobody would listen. Why not? It’s simple. I don’t have status, a reputable name, come from a reputable family or have money. There is no branding attached to me. Therefore nothing I really do will be considered of much perceived value on any larger scale. It’s irrelevant what the thing I do is.
Now take the inverse. A person like Banksy who has achieved global success doing his street art (a thing that many people truly despise and don’t consider any form of art). Let’s take a bunch of his work and put it on the street, and simply label it “spray art”, and sell it for a mere $60.00 each. Funny how the perception of value changes. He even made it easy, and gave lots of clues. “This is not a photo opportunity”, as well as most of the iconic images that have made it around the world. Specifically, the guy in the bandanna throwing the flowers. That’s an iconic image.