In Brief

“What the Hell Is That?”: Banksy Discovers Moscow Exhibit of His Work Over Text Message

The street artist posted a frank conversation he had with a friend on Instagram, expressing his frustration with museums and galleries exhibiting his work in an unauthorized manner.

You are officially put on notice. Banksy recently posted on Instagram speaking out against an exhibition in Moscow charging nearly £20 (~$25) for entry. The globe-trotting street artist known for his urban agitprop may be clever, but apparently not as clever as his friend, who noted that the opposite of LOL is, indeed, LOL. (Palindromes, people.) Needless to say, Banksy is not pleased with galleries and museums displaying his work for profit and without his authorization.

Back in June, Moscow’s Central House of Artists quietly opened its sprawling solo retrospective of reproductions and prints from Banksy’s repertoire. The exhibition’s website proclaims that “approximately 100 exhibits, including unique original works, 3D objects, rare prints and photographs by Banksy, and much more, will be exhibited for the first time in Russia.”

The exhibition also includes a “special multimedia space introducing visitors to the creative work of this legendary graffiti artist.” But said “legendary graffiti artist” had nothing to do with the Central House’s exhibition or any digital manipulation of his work. What’s worse, the cultural institution is charging upwards of $20 for a guided tour of the exhibition. (The street artist is not exactly a fan of museums charging people to view work principally made for the general public’s consumption.)

Don’t worry, though, stripping Banksy’s work of its core value is not just a Russian conspiracy — the Canadians are in on it, too. Steve Lazarides, an art dealer and the artist’s one-time agent, is presenting another essentially unauthorized exhibition of Banksy in Toronto. He’s asking viewers to spend about $26 for entrance into the warehouse housing the artwork. The organizers for Lazarides’s show stress that it contains no art ripped from the street; rather, it features about 80 works on loan from collectors who bought them online or at Banksy’s own commercial shows.

Hyperallergic reached out to the Central House of Artists for comment but didn’t receive a reply before this article’s publication.

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