Sex in a stencil
Before we start, let me dismiss any notions you may have of my artistic, creative or (heaven forbid )authentic license to comment on anything. And at the top of the list must be anything deemed edgy. A word I find ironic, in an Alanis Morrissette 'ironic' way. Because in my view (please refer to line one of this paragraph), it is usually the people that think themselves 'edgy' that are anything but. They rage against the system sticking it to The Man, but not before stopping in for shampoo at Aveda and streetwear at Carhartt.
The later which, by the way, is synonomous with hard wearing clothes in the US (think Brokeback Mountain). American Carhartt wearers hang out at Rodeos and Nascar races, London ones at the White Cube Gallery and the Tate Modern Bookshop. Go figure.
But, all of this has digressed from the the Banksy stencil that is fuelling debate today in Bristol. In the past Banksy has sneaked his work into the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the British Musuem, even the controversial wall that separates Israel and Palestine. But this time he sneaks it on the side of a non descript sexual health clinic in Bristol and the town is up in arms.
I was first surprised that the image could be deemed offensive to one's sensibilities, rather than attractive to one's faculties. The classic Banksy style was unmistakable as he turned a cheeky image into a statement of our time by first showing an image of devious sexual behaviour and then by choosing to place it on the side of a sexual health clinic building. Now that is true irony, Alanis!
The image is open to any number of interpretations. On first glance, it reminded me of all the films where people end up hanging off ledges, which led me to King Kong, which led me to I Love Lucy (c'mon stay with me) and how that must have been the best show ever on television. But Lucille Ball's humour was a timeless art form, Banksy's a most fleeting one.
And then I became overfilled with emotion - not for thoughts the image could have provoked about the bereft state of modern marriages or for all the victims of love triangles hanging off the ledges this very minute. No, I felt sad that this significant piece of public art could just easily be washed away at a small cost to the local council.
So, instead I comforted myself that at least I had some tangible tribute to Banksy in the form of a lovely book with the best of his work - old and new.
Liz's far from edgy recommendation:
Wall and Piece by Banksy, £11.80 from Amazon
It probably subverts Banksy's smashing of middle class complacent attitudes by recommending it as a very hip coffee table book (even if you don't live in a loft). Or for the selfless, as a great gift idea for anyone interested in art, or cities, or politics, or the world; or who simply thinks that they are fab, cool, edgy and counter cultural.
As of today, the ICA did have copies. I imagine the larger Waterstone and Borders branches will as well.