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Weekend Banksy: East Village Confessional, Central Park Pop-up, Queens Lowbrow, Red Hook Damage

The East Village Banksy on East 7th Street and Third Avenue (all photos by the author for Hyperallergic unless otherwise noted)
The East Village Banksy on East 7th Street and Third Avenue (all photos by the author for Hyperallergic unless otherwise noted)

This weekend’s Banksys touched down in three boroughs. They included some of his trademark black-and-white stencils and a surprise pop-up shop by Central Park, while the story of the Red Hook work continues.

If Saturday’s Banksy confessional outside Cooper Union and adjacent to St. George’s Ukrainian Catholic Church was a generally a weak work, technically anyway, it was quickly politicized as “Free Cooper” popped up, followed by the addition of an image of school president Jamshed Bharucha in the adjacent concrete “confessional” appearing to absolve himself of his “sins.” Later “Free Cooper: The Musical” was graffiti’d on another concrete block, and the whole work was transformed into a pointed piece of viral-friendly advertising for Free Cooper Union and its cause.

Banksy Undercover

While everyone thought that day’s Easter egg was placed in the highly trafficked corner of the East Village, another, stealthier Banksy was set up in an even busier intersection on the edge of Central Park — a stall selling “original 100% authentic original signed Banksy canvases” for $60 each. Manned by an older man, only three people (buying eight pieces in total) stopped to purchase the works — one hailed from Chicago, another from New Zealand, while one woman, who may have been a New Yorker, purchased a few for her kids. The works in the generic stand were only revealed to be by Banksy the following day, when a video and photograph were posted on Banksy’s official site.

A bored salesman sits in front of his table of "real" Banksys that go unnoticed.
A screenshot from Banksy’s video of a bored salesman sitting in front of his table of “real” Banksys that go largely unnoticed

One of his cleverest tricks yet, Banksy’s tomfoolery mocks the endless copies of his and other street artists’ work that are sold on tourist tables around the world. The canvases of barebones stencils have some of his most iconic imagery, but without the clear Banksy label, the vast majority of people walked by the unassuming table. The installation poked fun at our cultural infatuation with bold-faced names rather than the work itself.

There are a few people out there who woke up yesterday to realize they’re a whole lot richer than they were when they thought they were buying tourist trinkets and instead scored rare Banksy canvases.

Banksy in Queens

After everyone was kicking themselves for not knowing about the incognito Banksy table, today’s reveal took place on an unassuming corner in Woodside, Queens. Eyewitnesses mentioned that they saw a man painting the work early this morning, and it was largely covered with a tarp. When someone tried to film him, he supposedly ran away.

The Woodside Banksy at 38th Avenue and 69th Street
The Woodside Banksy at 38th Avenue and 69th Street

Today’s Woodside crowd was one of the largest I’ve encountered at a Banksy soon after it was announced. I’m guessing the Columbus Day holiday was largely responsible for the numbers, but there has certainly been an upward tick of Banksy pilgrims at every site since the first one was unveiled.

People were talkative, and one Daily News reporter darted through the crowd asking for quotes. Banksy consciously chose a quotation from Gladiator, the Hollywood movie, because, according to his blog post on his official site:

Some people criticize me for using sources that are a bit low brow (this quote is from ‘Gladiator’) but you know what? “I’m just going to use that hostility to make me stronger, not weaker” as Kelly Rowland said on the X Factor.

The audience around the Woodside Banksy today around 11:45am
The audience at the Woodside Banksy today around 11:45am

A Parking Ticket in Williamsburg

Banksy’s mobile truck works may be some of the hardest to track down in New York, but last night I finally had the pleasure of seeing his “mobile garden,” which was parked at the corner of N 7th Street and Bedford Avenue in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.

Most people who walked by instantly knew it was a Banksy, and people flocked to the site like it was some artistic version of a communal bonfire, chatting about the work, sharing their experiences, and looking for clues about the artist, his accomplices, and other unanswered questions they might have.

While I stood on the corner to watch the ebb and flow and the banter, two police officers walked up, one asked if anyone knew whose truck this was, and then proceeded to write the vehicle a ticket for parking in a no-standing zone.

As one of the officers wrote the ticket, someone shouted “You’re going to be famous tomorrow” to the policeman, who place the ticket on the windshield ad walked away unamused.

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Red Hook’s Vandal Worries

And the saga of the Red Hook Banksy continues as an eyewitness sent us a report about the precarious state of the red balloon:

The ongoing events around the red hook banksy are insane. Local guy hired to guard it, guard falls asleep, someone takes hammer to plexi, whole thing gets covered by welded steel that night (including neighboring non banksy tag)

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