If I were Banksy

War, Capitalism & Liberty


Banksy comes in Rome, in a city more and more marked by hysteria, police and alienation, as a Giordano Bruno of our days. The night in the capital is now empty and lighted by the sirens. This is not longer the right place to fall in love, a young guy helps his girlfriend to throw up outside a bookshop. You meet a man who says he is armed and ask you for money to get gas, later, an old painter sleeps on the stairs of a church with his easel, and a Maghrebi desperately tries to sell his overblown roses. A strange feeling creeps along the streets, to the river, along with herds of mice peeking out from the cracks of sidewalks.

Banksy’s works seem to explain very well this atmosphere, our automated feelings, driven by signs that distract from the beauty — as suggested by the pink written “Exit Through the Gift Shop” oppressing the breath of a landscape —, everything that happens on TV now seems not so far away. It’s all around us. Inside. We shot anything, like that’s the only way to be in the moment, rather than spending time to contemplate or try to understand. There’s never time. We read listlessly some captions, but our thoughts are somewhere else.

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The exhibition, just ended reporting a good response from the viewers, has examined how social and political events of our world are depicted and viewed through the street art of Banksy, from his motif of monkeys declaring “Laugh Now But One Day I’ll Be in Charge” to the chilling image of Kids on Guns.

Banksy is one of most discussed, debated and acclaimed cultural figures of our age. His stark imagery, provoking messages and anonymous persona has captivated international audiences since he burst on the scene in the late 1990s. An urban artist, his media ranges from painting on canvas, screen-prints and sculpture to large installations and even the occasional livestock. His artwork reveals a unique mix of humour and humanity; it is created for the masses and affords a voice for those in — and indeed outside — of society who would otherwise not be heard. A recent example is his commentary on the refugee crisis and the after effects of Dismaland seen in his work at Calais, France. His anonymity and refusal to conform mean that he is as difficult to nail down as is his artwork, and thus a survey of his works has never been officially or unofficially brought together and exhibited in a private museum to a public audience.

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Produced by the Fondazione Terzo Pilastro, and curated by Stefano Antonelli, Francesca Mezzano & Acoris Andipa, this phenomenal museum exhibition would not have been possible without the kind support of private collection lenders from around the world. The exhibition will highlight Banksy’s unique artistic skills, with artworks spanning his entire career while exploring the themese of War, Capitalism and Liberty.

In a corner of the show, right next the exit — through the gift shop —, there’s a big blackboard where you can write what you’d be “if you were Banksy”: the written that stood out on others like “I’d be rich” or “I’d be famous”, is “I’d be human”.


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