The art world has fascinated me for years. I wouldn’t call myself an art lover and you’ll be hard pressed to find me in a museum regularly, but it is an interesting world. One which follows trends, just like fashion does. When something becomes a hype the prizes skyrocket, but it is also a subculture in which experts regularly can’t tell real paintings from smart forgeries. Banksy has this image that he goes against that world and through his street art regularly makes important statements. Because of this he has become loved and his work is sought after. The prices collectors are willing to pay are extremely high and of course there are people who want to take advantage of that. In the documentary Banksy Does New York it partly focussed on that when a group of men were trying to sell a Banksy they took from the street. In How To Sell A Banksy Christopher Thompson tries to sell one of Banksy’s earlier works which he scraped of a bridge himself.
He has stored the work for ages, hidden behind his mother’s closet and in this documentary he shows the process in order to bring it to market. The piece is in extremely bad shape (large pieces are missing), so Thompson first decides to have it restored and framed. After doing so het enters a market which is new to him and where he still has to learn the rules. Only saying that you own a Banksy isn’t enough, even if you have evidence that you got it of a bridge. Besides that the question remains if people are interested in buying a piece which is in such bad shape.
The most shocking thing about this documentary isn’t its content, but the way it looks. A while ago I tweeted that by using the name Banksy it is possible to sell your personal home video as a documentary. The movie is mostly shot on a cheap camcorder by someone who was unexpectedly given it. The sound often isn’t clear and it contains a lot of moments which don’t seem to belong in the film.
The only thing which I did find interesting is that Banksy makes art for galleries as well. That is something which isn’t his image and shows how clever he approaches his brand. He uses the art world effectively to make his money. He also has a special team, called Pest Control, which is the only group which will give a certificate of authenticity on his work. They don’t give those out for street art though. The rest of the movie doesn’t give much insight which makes it a long watch in which Thompson tries to earn money off “his” Banksy, but unfortunately it doesn’t manage to stay interesting very long.