If you went to watch HBO’s Banksy Does New York expecting a similar mind-trip to what the artist delivered themselves through their earlier work Exit Through The Gift Shop, then you may find yourself left wanting.
But if you watch this documentary about Banksy’s takeover of New York in October of 2013, you get to see the influence this enigmatic artist has and consider that this wasn’t so much pieces of art delivering their own unique messages, but rather an overall statement about art and its place in the current world.
Starting off with that classic trope of “the beginning is the end is the beginning”, we see the attempted theft of Banksy’s final piece and the chaos it causes on the streets as people try to stop the would-be art thieves. From there the story takes us back to the beginning of Banksy’s takeover, delivered in wonderful social media transitions representative of how Banksy slowly drip-fed their pieces to the public.
As the film takes us through each day, some glanced over quickly while others that had more impact are broken apart to show their meaning, it’s never really clear if the pieces delivered by Banksy are the art, or if it’s what happens around the piece that is; the chaos that surrounds the chase and discovery becoming their own form.
With a sort of melancholy to it as we learn of the fate of each piece, it’s endearing to the see the wider public of New York City become more cognizant of the art that surrounds them. And when the end comes for the film, it washes over you in its finality;
That the message of what art is and can be is always around you.
You just have to be open to seeing it.
Banksy Does New York is a wonderful look at the chaotic work and charm of the artist, and the effect they have on one of the biggest cities in the world