Seeking a Renaissance in San Francisco
The Sundance Kabuki movie theater in Japantown, SF, is just a few blocks from the hospital I work at. I was walking by the theater the other day and noticed an interesting movie on their show list – Exit Through the Gift Shop: A Banksy Film (Show times can be found here). This documentary is acclaimed to be “the world’s first street art disaster movie” and premiered at this year’s Sundance Film Festival.
The documentary is based primarily on the street artist known as “Banksy,” who is notoriously stealthy and is thought to be from Bristol, England. He never shows his face (even during interviews), people still don’t know exactly who or where he is, and “Banksy,” is of course just a pseudonym. The mystery of his character as an artist totally adds to the personality of his work itself. He paints all over the world and specializes in graffiti and street art, particularly stenciling. His works portray parodies of society, war, and government – some jovial or satirical and some with serious political messages. In August 2005, he even took a trip to Israel and painted (at gun point), 9 pieces on the West Bank Barrier, which was erected to protect Israelis from Palestinian acts of terrorism. All the pieces depicted freedom in some shape or form.
Here is a video I found that has a good collection of his works and some background on his career (audio is a little funky):
Banksy uses the streets of the world as his canvas and works with his surroundings, bringing them into his pieces – not just letting the paint do all the work. Again, I’m amazed at how limitless creativity really is.
Here are some of his pieces that I find particularly interesting. (And here are more photos from Flickr: http://www.flickr.com/groups/banksy)