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Is the Banksy Show in Antwerp a Good or a Bad Thing?

Brace yourselves street art enthusiasts, a Banksy exposition is coming to Antwerp on the 14th of January! Last Sunday morning a bunch of red heart-shaped balloons appeared in the Stadsfeestzaal on the Meir, revealing the location for the upcoming 'Art of Banksy' show. These refer to one of his most popular works of a black-and-white white girl reaching for her balloon, which you might know from the campaign in 2014 against all the bloodshed in Syria. The British street artist is world famous for this kind of playful but satirical work with socio-political statements, as well as his anonymous identity. No wonder thus that the exhibitions are a worldwide succes, despite the surrounding controversy.

The reason there is a lot of controversy surrounding the 'Art of Banksy', is because it is curated by his ex-manager Steve Lazarides. The two had a troublesome falling-out and haven’t spoken in over a year. Lazarides claims it's merely his goal to bring the biggest amount of Banksy pieces together from 40 private collections around the world, now that they’re more relevant than ever. But he admits that Banksy does not approve of it. Well, at least the 'Art of Banksy' website is honest about it: “100% unauthorized” - by Banksy, that is. Many of his fans are outraged however, since they feel that the initiative is out of line with Banksy’s own artistic vision, and have been calling it nothing less than a commercial scam with fake stencils. For example Bøjrn Van Poucke as frontman of both Street Art Belgium and its overarching organisation The Crystal Ship, is an avid opponent of the exhibitions.

Other street art enthusiasts try to keep an open mind and hope that the public attention it attracts will become a positive drive for the street art scene as a whole. While some visitors are disappointed with only a handful of the works being original ones and the rest being prints, the prevailing public opinion about the Amsterdam exhibition is positive. Personally, we can’t help but wonder if this could be a stunt from Banksy himself. Just as in ‘Exit Through the Giftshop’, he succeeds in revealing a troublesome degree of inauthenticity while staying in the background himself. Moreover, Banksy’s identity remains a mystery up to this day, so who even knows for sure that he and Steve Lazarides aren’t the same person? To say the least, controversy has always been a driving force in and around Banksy's art.

Whatever the case, we're all entitled to our own opinions. You decide yourselves if you want to boycott the expo by not going or if you want to go see what all that buzz is about!
Here's a sneak preview of what to expect:



#artofbanksy #artofbanksyamsterdam

Een foto die is geplaatst door Alemsah Ozturk (@alemsah) op




NO BALL GAMES ⚽️ #artofbanksy

Een foto die is geplaatst door Craig Cresswell (@cr3zz) op




#artofbanksy #artofbanksyamsterdam

Een foto die is geplaatst door Alemsah Ozturk (@alemsah) op




#artofbanksy #amsterdam #holland #art #anarchy

Een foto die is geplaatst door Riia Järvenpää (@rialistic) op




The ‘art of Banksy’ exhibition runs until the 8th of January at the Beurs van Berlage in Amsterdam and will open in Antwerp on the 14th of January. More info here.

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