Today’s announcement on Banksy.co.uk points to a larger obstacle that Banksy will be facing going forward with his New York residency, the New York Police Department’s draconian anti-graffiti policies. For those of you who might not be aware, the NYPD’s anti-graffiti measures are some of the strictest in the democratic world, which is particularly odd considering this city is the cradle of an art form that has since gone on to transform cities around the world.
This morning, Banksy’s McDonald’s work was targeted by officers in the Lower East Side, who shut down the work when, as Gothamist reports, “About five police cars showed up with ten officers” and started questioning the actor shining the fiberglass Ronald McDonald’s shoe.
I doubt Banksy has ever gone up against a force as strong as the NYPD, which, according to NYC Mayor Bloomberg, is the 7th largest “army” in the world — though that isn’t exactly true. This cat and mouse game is part of the public’s continuing fascination with street art and graffiti, acting much in the same way as the legal problems of hip hop stars helped propel their fame through infamy and headlines.
With city’s far right-wing tabloid, the New York Post, practically prodding the city’s police department to beef up their pursuit of the British street art — “GET BANKSY” blared one obnoxious headline — you can be sure there are forces in this city (mostly right-wing) that can’t stand the fact that Banksy’s monthlong residency is helping to transform many New Yorker’s once religious belief in the increasingly suspect “broken window” theory of crime prevention.
The NYPD has been eager to see any of the building owners impacted by the Bankys to file charges against the artist, and my guess is eventually they’ll find someone to bite. Then what? What if the NYPD ups their efforts to get the artists? My guess is that it will simply contribute to Banksy’s notoriety and fame. I can’t imagine a better publicity boost for the artist — not that he obviously needs it.
Update, 2:40pm EDT: Shoe-shine Ronald McDonald has reappeared at 71st and Broadway.
Update 2, 6:02pm EDT: The Daily News is reporting there’s an “unofficial” Banksy:
The elusive tagger etched a 4-by-8 foot stencil outline on the side of the Red
Hook Arts Project building after the group’s director left her card with a guard at
another piece asking Banksy to tag the building.He complied — and even left a bucket of sidewalk chalk for the kids to use. See the photos and videos below to see the kids getting creative.