10 Highlights from Banksy's Better Out Than In Residency in New York
Due to the mysterious allure of his persona and the political dimension of his art, Banksy remains in the spotlight constantly. In 2013, Banksy arrived in New York for a month-long residency which hosted an entire show on the streets of the city. During a NYC residency titled Better Out Than In, the elusive artist unveiled at least one work per day, documenting it on both a dedicated website and an Instagram account for authenticity. The commentary ranged from chiefly political to dark humor and satire. Unpredictable in nature, the Banksy NYC residency excited the artist’s fans from both New York City and abroad but also courted some controversy. And this was all captured in the acclaimed documentary Banksy Does New York.
Five years on, what happened to Banksy’s New York pieces? Let’s find out.
Featured image: October 1st, Manhattan. All images creative commons.
October 2nd, Manhattan
The October 2 piece was located on 25th Street between 10th and 11th Avenue in Manhattan. Painted on a shutter, the piece mimicked classic New York graffiti style, with the words, “This is my New York Accent”. In serif script underneath the artist had stenciled, “…normally I speak like this”. Many saw this as a jab at the stereotypical tags of uncreative graffiti writers from New York City.
Within hours, the piece was completely defaced with tags and angry messages.
October 3th, 24th and 6th Ave, Chelsea
Located on 24th Street and 6th Avenue, the 3rd October piece depicts a dog pissing on a fire hydrant with the bubble attached reading “You complete me…”. The work was accompanied by a satirical audio piece mimicking the style of a museum audio tour. Mocking the nature of the art world, the audio stated at one point, “Are you looking at one of the great artworks of the 21st century? If so, you’re in the wrong place.”
The work was soon covered with other artist’s tags. However, it also inspired a man to start the Banksy Restoration Society, taking upon himself to paint over the marks which defaced the work.
October 9th, Lower East Side
On October 9th on 159 Ludlow Street, the artist revealed an elaborate and politically charged piece featuring armed soldiers and horses spray-painted on a car and trailer in an empty lot. It was accompanied by a disturbing audio of the soldiers conversing during combat, taken from a classified video of Baghdad airstrike which took place on July 12th, 2007.
The car was eventually dismantled and towed away to prevent further defacement.
October 12th, Manhattan
Created at 7 Copper Square, the October 12th piece by the artist depicted a painting of Catholic priest resting his head on his hand, set against the red background. It was later found out that the image was a photo of a Jesuit priest at the Martyr’s Shrine in Ontario, taken by Berni Schoenfield in the 1950s.
Someone added a beard to the figure before it was moved to safety and artists painted more images in other blocks.
October 15th, Tribeca
Painted on a Tribeca building on Staple Street & Jay Street, the October 15th NYC piece by the artist was certainly the most controversial one in the entire series. It depicted the silhouette former Twin Towers with an orange flower placed where one of the planes struck the North Tower. An unfinished version of the piece was also found in Brooklyn and protected with plexiglass.
Overnight, the place became a shrine where people placed flowers. At some point, the orange flower was stolen. The piece was protected with a plexiglass, but someone painted over it.
October 17th, Bed Stuy
Located on Cook Street and Graham Avenue in Williamsburg, the October 17th piece depicted two women in traditional Japanese dress conversing on a bridge and a bonsai tree sprouting from the ground. Some interpreted the work as offensive, playing off geisha stereotype and the exoticism of eastern cultures.
The piece was covered in plexiglass and the roll-down metal security gate was installed to secure it.
October 21st, South Bronx
Painted on 153rd Street and Elton Avenue in South Bronx, the October 21st piece depicted a little boy tagging a wall with the words “Ghetto 4 Life,” while a butler stands next to him, holding spray paint on a tray. As the piece stirred controversy, the president of the Bronx borough, Ruben Diaz Jr described work as racially charged, suggesting “a not-so-subtle pejorative towards people of color meant to implicitly infer low-class, uneducated and criminal in nature.”
However, the piece remained intact.
October 24th, Hell’s Kitchen
Painted on Larry Flynt’s NY Hustler Club & Cigar Lounge at 641 West 51st Street, the October 24th piece depicted a man in a tuxedo holding flowers with a caption “Waiting in Vain.” The security of the club was posted outside to protect is, still allowing fans to take a photo next to it.
Soon after the club issued a statement that they plan to remove the piece in order to protect it. It remains in an undisclosed location.
October 27th, Greenpoint
Created at Noble and West Streets in Greenpoint, the October 27th piece was painted on a wall where previous graffiti was buffed, reading “This site contains blocked messages” in the iconic New York Times font. Banksy wrote on his website that the piece was supposed to be an op-ed for the New York Times, posting a photo of the rejected editorial that he wrote, criticizing One World Trade Center for being too bland, spineless and safe. Banksy argued the building was a betrayal to everyone who lost their lives on September 11th, and that its blandness is a sign the terrorist won.
The piece was painted over by a woman in a hardhat and mask.
October 28th, Coney Island
Painted on Stillwell and Neptune in Coney Island, the October 28th piece shows a robot spray-painting his tag: a barcode. Animal New York suggested it refers to human genetics.
The work was boarded by locals and the owner installed the system to protect it.