Banksy—the London-based street artist and “documentarian,” known for his wild murals and social commentary graffiti—has struck again. With the Olympics in his backyard, Banksy couldn’t resist the chance to make news with some inflammatory Olympic-inspired street art.
Banksy tagged two local buildings with Olympic-themed street-stencils. Although the locations have not been revealed, they are known to exist, because Banksy recently uploaded pictures of them to his website. With the titles “Going for Mould” and “Hackney Welcomes the Olympics,” the stencils portray the Olympics in a rather unflattering light. One shows a javelin thrower preparing to throw a missile. The other depicts a pole vaulter descending to a grimy mattress.
Banksy’s stencil graffiti have presented a conundrum. One the one hand, Olympic organizers in London have worked tirelessly to remove graffiti (and prevent future graffiti) in order to maintain the pristine Olympic facilities. They wanted athletes, fans and the media to appreciate their bright and shiny city. On the other hand, the latest original Banksy artwork sold for 400,000 pounds. To preserve their immaculate Olympic city, London workers may have accidentally whitewashed expensive and sought-after original artwork.
Many presume that Banksy intended this response, confusing his government with illicit street art while simultaneously making headlines. With the world watching, London must ask itself what’s more costly to its reputation—keeping the street art or removing it?