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  • Banksy

The Mystery of the Banksy Identity. Will We Ever Stop?

September 3, 2016
Ana Bambic Kostov is an art historian with passion for contemporary art.

Here we go again, poking at Banksy… It seems that every time when the art world goes silent, not many things are going around, muralists are doing their festival murals, gallerists are doing their preparations for the new season, there’s always that one topic to reheat, the magical entity everybody loves to exploit. A new, 2016 theory appeared out of the blue about the infamous Banksy Identity, pinpointing Robert Del Naja, one of the Massive Attack members as the man behind THE name. The idea seems to have emerged from a blog post written by a British journalism graduate student and at first sight, it does make sense. The facts and the parallels given in the article are believeable, but I cannot help but ask myself – what’s the point?

Banksy's Bristol graffiti from 2008 do not reveal his real home, like media said
Alledged Banksy in Jamaica in 2004 and at Dismaland Bemusement Park 2015, According to and courtesy of Daily Mail

Chasing Banksy – An Everlasting Thrill

This is hardly the first theory made in the attempt to reveal the true identity of one of the most famous contemporary British artist and it certainly won’t be the last. People are curious and this elusive visual magician has been escaping us long enough. One of the latest theories publicized earlier this yearrevealed” who Banksy is with the help of sophisticated technology. Conducted by the Queen Mary University of London, the geoprofiling study identified a certain Robin Gunningham as the artist, and gave a mass of evidence to support the claim – later denied on the street artist’s web page. Before that, everybody thought he was the Dismaland’s parking attendant. Before that, who knows – and it really doesn’t matter.

Now, it’s Robert Del Naja, aka 3D and the concept does sound enticing. Surely, I’m not the only one who loves Massive Attack and this piece of information, if true, would indeed be a delight, but let’s leave this personal fact aside for a moment. The thing is – all of us want to complete the puzzle and the pieces are laid out before us to do exactly that. Still, I cannot shake the feeling that the picture comes out somehow wrong.

Banksy's Bristol graffiti from 2008 do not reveal his real home, like media said. Subscribe for Robin Gunningham daily video, unveil privacy. Contact us and read news 2016
Get Banksy! image via mirror.co.uk – Photo Reuters

Leave Banksy Alone!

So, what if it is Del Naja, what then? What if the geoprofiling study was correct? What if it is a collective of artists, or a woman? Well, nothing. The moment we find out who Banksy really is will be the moment we lose Banksy. And do we really want that?

In this global craze of revealing everything about everyone, it appears that our curiosities just won’t leave us alone. But they really should this time.

Banksy is not only a mysterious personality. He (she, them – whatever) is not merely an anonymous scribbler in the street, some vandal we must catch, someone who is just the next spraycan veteran – he’s so much more than that. He’s a communication mastermind, a wizard of visuals, a cultural phenomenon of sorts. But most of all – Banksy is what Banksy does. And what he does is he raises awareness, provokes thoughts and invites us, the average Janes and Joes, to use our own heads while forming opinions. So, how about we focus on what Banksy’s messages say and leave him and his identity alone?

Update: Del Naja denied the allegations, so this hype ended as well.

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All images for illustrative purposes only